Much more than just a buzzword, big data is a phenomenon that businesses are increasingly capitalising on to drive business growth. IDC predicts that the market for big data will reach $16.1billion this year – growing six times faster than the wider IT market – and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.Gartner defines big data with three Vs: variety, velocity and volume. The huge and varied amount of data that has become available so quickly can appear overwhelming.
At first it seemed that only big companies could capitalise on big data, but we think big data can democratise the disparate worlds of the corporation and the small business. With every sector now swamped by data, and as more channels, platforms and devices continue to emerge, the amount of structured and unstructured data could become an opportunity for the small business too.
Big data means big changes
Big data can already be seen to be working for the good. Some significant examples include healthcare; the Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine is building a facility that will map patients’ genomes to predict future diseases. Sentiment analysis of social media ‘chatter’ helped guide one financial institution, which went back on its intention to charge customers a debit card fee. Even in education, schools now have detailed information on the strengths and weaknesses of individual educators – and the computing power to analyse it for professional development.
What can big data do for my business?
In theory, being less cumbersome than the enterprise, small businesses can capitalise quickly on big data. They usually don’t have to overcome the issues associated with consolidating and aligning siloed information stored in different departments and locations. With big data, there is an opportunity to get to know your customers better – enabling better informed decision making, better service and more personalised online shopping experiences.
Three tips for big data brilliance:
1.Set small goals that work towards your strategy:
Before you start to mine data, define what you want to know and set your parameters. Are you looking to improve customer targeting, or maybe more accurately forecast stock requirements? Make the big data set smaller and hit agreed objectives.
2.Look to the information you already own:
Your electronic payment system will hold a wealth of data, and the cost to store it is falling. Use this to your advantage. Use hosted solutions to store your valuable information, and have the connectivity to ensure you’re never hindered in accessing it.
3. Look for the solutions appropriate to your business size:
Google Analytics works just as well for small businesses as corporates in analysing internet traffic. With free or inexpensive data tools growing in popularity, mining big data no longer means expensive groups of data scientists. It’s no longer just the remit of theenterprise.