Technically Speaking

The Official Bigstep Blog

Big Data for the Little Business

Big data is for the Fortune 500 guys, right? It’s the sole property of the deep pockets and tech giants like Google and Facebook and Twitter. If you’re falling for this, you’re seriously missing out on some huge benefits that big data has to offer the small business. Here are several ways that small- to mid-size businesses can take advantage of the rich repository of information and insight that big data and data analytics holds.

Improving Operations

Big data has no bias regarding how operations ought to go. Hence, data analytics can revolutionize your production efforts.

Have you ever watched your production workers and thought, “There has to be a better way,” of doing this or that? Chances are, you’re right. But humans have blinders on. It’s unintentional, of course, but people tend only to see what they’ve been taught to see and used to seeing. It’s hard for them to step out of the mindset, “This is the way it’s always been done.” Data has no such preconceived notions. Data can deliver you entirely new perspectives on your production operations, allowing you to improve and refine processes to reduce waste, speed production, increase productivity, and all without sacrificing quality.

Improving Supply Chain Management

Just as big data can yield information from your operations, it can also help you identify snags, bottlenecks, waste, and inefficiencies in your supply chain. Most suppliers, warehouses, manufacturers, and transportation companies now use sensors throughout the supply chain, and the data is available for analysis. This data can show you better places to acquire goods, better ways to get the goods, and how to maximize inventory for optimal production versus storage costs.

Improving Revenue

Is your business leaving money on the table? Most are. Data analytics can identify untapped areas of new revenue streams and can help you evaluate existing revenue streams for ways to make improvements. How can you get this kind of insight? By collecting data from different departments. For example, when you combine the data gathered from billing, production, customer service, tech support, production, etc., you have a more complete and accurate picture of how the business operates and how and why customers do business with you. Areas for revenue improvements will be clear.

Improving Customer Service

Big data doesn’t limit your customer service ratings to answers on a survey. You can combine data from actual customer contacts, as well as social media and other sources, for a comprehensive, inclusive view of customer attitude and sentiment.

What do your customers really come to your business for? An old saying holds that people don’t come to the hardware store to buy a drill, they come because they need some holes. What “holes” are your customers seeking? Through data analysis of social media, your call center data, data from your mobile apps, etc., you can see why customers come. You’ll understand what they’re looking for. Then you’ll be in a much better position of providing it.

Don’t let articles about how Amazon and eBay use big data scare you into thinking it’s only for the big guys. Big data can offer tremendous benefits to the small business, as well. Put it to good use at your company today.

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