Small companies need to tap the power of big data


How busy are you as a small business owner? You’re managing your books. You’re checking on inventory to make sure that you are able to fulfill your orders. You’re deciding which product lines to grow and which to get rid of. You’re debating whether it’s time for you to expand to a second location. And you’re asking yourself which of your staffers is talented and dedicated enough to become managers. Put simply, you’re extremely busy. But there’s one more item that should be on your to-do list: You need to analyze big data and utilize that data to build deeper relationships with your customers. Not surprisingly, you may have no clue how you can do this. And you might not know what big data even is. But here’s why big data isn’t only for big businesses. Here’s why big data can help your small business thrive even in a difficult economy.

Defining Big Data

John Weathington, while writing for the TechRepublic Web site, defines big data as massive quantities of rapidly moving and freely available information that serves a valuable need in the business marketplace. Companies who have access to big data about their own customers’ wants and needs, and willingness to pay to have what they want, can gain a big competitive edge, particularly in a difficult economy. Unfortunately, as Weathington writes, it’s not easy for small business owners to access and analyze big data. The ones that do it, though, will be rewarded.

Big Data In Action

Knowing the definition is one thing, actually using big data to attract new customers is another. Fortunately, CIO Magazine recently took a look at three companies that market themselves in part by highlighting their ability to use big data to help their clients make better choices. Consider Financial Engines. This financial firm, as CIO writes, utilizes large financial data sets and advanced analytical tools to help customers successfully plan their retirements. Because the company has access to retirement statistics, trends and data, it has little trouble grabbing new clients.

Exmobaby uses big data in a different way: Its pajamas come with built-in sensors that compile health information on the babies wearing them. The sensors then compile this health-and-wellness data so parents can access it. The marketing advantage here is obvious: Exmobaby can take large amounts of data and then use it to show anxious parents how healthy their babies are. Parchment relies on big data to help students apply for the right colleges. The company relies on a database of grade point averages, SAT scores and college acceptance data to guide students toward those colleges likely to accept them. The CIO Magazine story proves that big data is not an esoteric matter. It’s real information that can help the owners of small businesses gain new clients.

Posted on: 02.13.13