Business Intelligence

What Is Big Data And How Can It Empower Your Small Business?

Published by in Business Intelligence

What is big data? It’s an oft-used term for the ungodly amount of data currently in existence.

How much is “ungodly?”

About 2.5 exabytes created every day. That’s equal to 530,000,000 songs you’d download off iTunes.

Big data’s about more than size, however. As Bernard Marr pointed out, calling a heap of data “big data” is only half the story. The size of the data set matters, but what you do with it is more important. Properly speaking, you’re using big data if you’re analyzing “a large data set that is fast moving, ever changing, and includes unstructured data.” It’s the analysis that makes big data more than just a lump of numbers.

To give you an idea of how much data is currently being created.

What is big data to the small businessperson?

It’s insights and money waiting to be found. The big data out there isn’t just music files and photos; it’s transactions, customer preferences, demographics, and other building blocks of higher profits.

Big data’s the second gold rush. Conveniently enough, it’s taking place close to where the first gold rush occurred in California. But instead of panning in a river, you’re using business intelligence software to pan for information and insights. Like the gold rush, you’re also likely to do better with a larger area. And while you may not find the Mother Lode, you can certainly get a lot of out the big data that exists.

Big data tools empower your small business

The more data you have, the more you can get from it. Small businesses may not have as much data as big companies, or as many resources, but they can still take advantage of big data.

In one sense, SMBs are at a disadvantage. Big companies like Amazon and Google collect so much data daily that even their own resources are considered big data. No SMB has as much data as those enterprises. However, they can find other ways to take advantage of big data.

If enough SMBs pool their data, they can create a bigger data set. And the bigger the data set, the more detail and insight you can get out of it. Many third party vendors provide this service to SMBs today.

Mobee, a company that crowdsources data, is already helping SMBs this way. The Mobee app works like a giant, crowdsourced version of what secret shopper companies used to do. Customers download the Mobee app, then answer questions about stores and restaurants they visit. Mobee collects this data, and conveys it to small businesses. As a result, SMBs are able to figure out how competitors are performing, which elements of their business are most successful, and even see photos of other businesses (or their own) taken by customers. Mobee can also show SMBs what demographics are responding well to certain products and ideas, and plan accordingly, based on who they want to attract.

Big Data Can Turn Credit Card Transactions Into More Money

Mobee isn’t the only firm offering the power of big data to small businesses. Atlanta-based analytics company First Data also offers big data solutions to small businesses.

Because First Data analyzes nearly $2 trillion each year and has access to the data from nearly 800 million credit cards, the insights your small business gets are buttressed by big data. First Data’s Senior VP Jim Allen went so far as to call their data set “unparallelled and unmatched.”

First Data analyzes your customers’ credit card transactions and provides insights based on those transactions. First Data uses that information to tailor their solution to the kind of business you have, whether you’re in eCommerce, the restaurant game, or another industry. And since 85-90% of First Data’s customers are SMBs, you’ll be getting experience from people who know the field.

First Data’s Clover Insights is one of the solutions First Data offers to turn your transaction data into moneymaking opportunities. You can segment your customers, check on who’s providing you with repeat business, and even take a look at trends from competitors to see where you stand. You’ll be getting the sort of data that helps you further differentiate what you do, and know which elements of that differentiation appeal to the customer.

Big Data, Small Business

MasterCard’s Local Market Intelligence is another service that makes big data into a useful tool for small businesses. Even if you’re not tracking your transaction data as closely as larger businesses, Local Market Intelligence can still enable data-driven observations.

Local Market Intelligence focuses especially on location data to determine which customers are lucrative, and where new customers may come from. Better yet, the data you get is from a set that includes other local competitors, so the observations you get are optimized for competition.

Another company providing big data insights to small businesses is Tranzlogic. Tranzlogic offers a range of products to help businesses improve marketing efforts. Tranzlogic can help you determine the best sites for new franchises, or make customer loyalty a source of profit, for instance.

Tranzlogic helped the Meatball Shop, a New York City small business, to better understand their customers. By analyzing demographic data, Tranzlogic helped Meatball Shop target a lucrative demographic at one location. The data revealed that many of their highest-spending customers were young, wealthy, and childless, and liked to spend money on alcohol. The Meatball Shop realized that a happy hour would attract this demographic even further. The decision brought old customers in more often, and created new customers, too.

What Is Big Data? Something You Should Check Out!

Has your small business used big data to increase sales or improve insights? If so, let me know in the comments below!

Looking for Business Intelligence software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Business Intelligence software solutions.

About the Author

Geoff Hoppe

Geoff Hoppe

Geoff Hoppe is a former Capterra analyst.


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