Small or startup businesses should think outside the box regarding data

The use of big data and analytics is now becoming almost as common among startups and smaller companies as it is with large enterprises. This is due largely to the increased availability of reliable business intelligence software, which can be acquired and implemented by firms with less in terms of budgets and infrastructure. However, according to GigaOM, there are some aspects of big data adoption and use that do not work half as well – or at all – for small businesses as they do with larger companies. 

Separation is the problem
Specifically, the idea that data science has to be managed as a process outside of the rest of a company's operations is what is problematic for small businesses, the source stated. Large firms can afford to manage it in that fashion and hire scores of devoted statisticians that only examine the numbers and don't have a sense of a business' overall brand or mission. 

Instead, those tasked with analyzing big data at small organizations need to treat it as something directly tied to the performance and success (or failure) of a company's products and services. It should, in effect, be thought of as part of the product itself. Employees who would ordinarily be solely dealing with products should take the time to be involved in the close reading and application of the big data that is collected.

Treat it like storytelling
One of the key aspects of data analysis is that companies will undoubtedly be sifting through a great deal of unstructured files and information. All of this has to be categorized and organized in some fashion for it to make any sense and be actionable. According to a blog post for the Harvard Business Review, it can be wise for those examining data to look at it like it is a story.

The news source elaborated on this by using the example of department store customers who browse a retail outlet and make various purchase decisions according to their specific wants and needs – all substantiated by existing data. This can be used to determine the level of a consumer's loyalty, and from there retailers could steer marketing efforts, pricing strategies and any other aspect of business accordingly.

Additionally, approaching analytics and big data in this manner allows you to have a greater insight into your customers. This is vital for a startup or small business, as such firms will live or die on the basis of a small but dedicated consumer base.

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