In today’s Information Age, even small businesses produce large amounts of big data. Big data is defined as the raw data collected by organizations from a variety of sources and stored in disparate locations. This data is most often internal transactional data collected from all of an organization’s interactions with its customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders. Because active businesses continue to produce data, all businesses regardless of size eventually reach a point where they must deal directly with the challenges and potential opportunities posed by big data. Instead of letting the sheer volume and velocity of big data overwhelm an organization’s storage and database systems, smart business operators seek to get an early handle on the issue to overcome any problems and leverage the data for marketing purposes.
Most organizations inherently know that the data gathered from transactions with customers and suppliers is valuable, but they find that organizing large amounts of data for future marketing campaigns is labor intensive and costly without the right information technology tools and skilled data management professionals. However, establishing a data management strategy is an investment that brings significant dividends even for small businesses.
Organized big data collected by small businesses help them improve customer relationship management. A data management strategy helps businesses gather data related to consumer buying habits and preferences. Business professionals use this data to generate marketing strategies that target specific consumers without a business even having to contact customers directly or issue them any of those annoying surveys. For instance, many small businesses want to target their burgeoning Latino customer base, and they generally have ideas about the preferences associated with these customers. Analytical tools applied to properly collected data give small businesses accurate information about these customers which takes the guess-work out of the data analysis process. Marketing managers use this information in their Latino marketing campaigns.
Big Data Offers Big Operational Efficiency Gains
Properly managed data helps business operators gain competitive advantages through operational efficiencies. For instance, a small business that has a few store locations and a decentralized, disorganized data management scheme misses out on opportunities for increased sales, decreased costs, and greater customer satisfaction. The same small business leverages organized big data by integrating data collected from all of its stores. Operation managers use the data to direct shipments to stores that actually need the merchandise using just in time supply chain management techniques. Additionally, data analysts who detect a distinct purchasing pattern for their Latino customer base at one of their stores can recommend that inventory adjustments be made among all of the stores. The result is that merchandise moves quicker, and there are no lost sales to competitors due to inadequate inventory. Also, customers are probably happier that they do not have to wait for their favorite items to arrive at a store that they usually visit.
Big Data Strategy For Small Businesses
Because handling big data is often intimidating, small businesses should ensure that they enlist the help of a qualified data management professional who works well with the organization’s information technology staff. The elements of a small business big data strategy features a phased approach that exploits both internally and externally derived big data. The first step is to generate a data ontology for internal data integration efforts. The ontology helps effectively portray the data management domain and associated concepts for handling data of various types and sizes. Since big data becomes more valuable when analyzed with other data, the second phase of the strategy is to incorporate external data into the ontology. Some of these external data sources include social media venues and government data resources like the U.S. Census.
Ignoring big data challenges will not help small businesses address the inevitable problem of managing copious amounts of data. It is best for companies to invest in a data management strategy early so that data analysts can turn a data nightmare into a marketing manager’s dream come true.
Austin Faux works for Luminar Hispanic Marketing Strategy. With a Bachelor’s in Human Services: Mental Health & Couseling Austin is uniquely qualified to understand the Latino marketing perspective. When I’m at home I’m helping my beautiful wife relax, playing with my two wonderful kids, and messing with my nerd podcast called, “I Am A Super Nerd.”