The word ‘data’ had been trending all through 2012, and would most probably continue to do so this year. Our fondness for internet, smartphones and tablets has created a rich vein of data. Our every action creates heaps of data which can be consumed for data analysis. With rampant social media trend and an increasingly tech-savvy market, it has become an important strategy for businesses. A search engine query for data, generally gives loads of results on ‘Big’ data, giving an impression that data analysis is useful only for multibillion dollar corporations. That’s a myth- Data analysis is for everyone, including SMBs.
‘Big’ is a relative term, and every organization reaches a data analysis limit some time or the other. For small businesses, one can avoid that limit because data is generated at lower volumes. However, it doesn’t take much time before the volume, variety and velocity of data comes in out of hand proportions. So, how can small businesses leverage this type of analysis?
Measure, Measure and Measure
While every business keeps customer information or sales record, there’s not enough details captured in those records. Consider that you are managing an Ecommerce website, simply keeping a record of how many customers come from which advertising sources isn’t enough. Details like how long they at your site, how long they stay at each of the pages, or how long one takes to complete a purchase process etc. are valuable inputs for data analysis. So, you have to increase your metric prowess. Having more information increases the scope of data analysis and can be used to reveal critical information.
Understanding your customer
Most small businesses have mechanisms to collect information about their customers. Be it CRM, ERP or social media interactions, there’s lots of information about specific customers. But the problem is that, they are kept in isolated silos. This not only reduces the efficacy of analysis, but isn’t powerful enough to give you information about your customer ecosystem. Integrating these using data analysis tools is the way to go. When one adds information from different sources, customers don’t simply stay as numbers or data but have multiple dimensions, just like in real life.
Visualization of data
Even with less sophisticated data analysis infrastructure, small business can profit if they are able to visualize the collected data. While the traditional techniques involving statistical methods or some other computer intensive paradigms yield better results for experts, data maps or graphs can be a better way to visualize for non-experts. For example, integrating customer data with geographical information can give you better targeting strategy. There are many other ways in which data visualization can help one out.
Giant corporations use data analysis to fine tune their business strategy. Just because you are a small scale business doesn’t mean that this type of analysis won’t yield results for you. While it is interesting to think about this sort of analysis in large scale, from a business point of view, what matters is how effective it is in streamlining your business. Invest more in data analysis and reap the benefits.