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Small Data – The big opportunity for small businesses

Small Data Opportunities for Small Business

There is much ado about ‘Big-Data’ at present and how it is set to transform and revolutionise business. But does data need to be big to be good?

For many businesses this whole area can seem a little daunting; futuristic perhaps and fraught with security worries (never-mind the expense), whilst also feeling a little intangible and hard to  understand what the commercial benefits might be.

The volume of data being produced by every business in the digitally-mobile world is truly mind-boggling, but still largely untapped. Data generation continues at a ferocious pace, but many businesses are slow to react to this potential treasure-trove of business insight. So how can you help your business to be smarter in your operations?

Whether you’re Law firm, Retailer, Recruiter, Butcher, Baker or Candlestick-maker… unlocking such insights is a rainbow worth chasing. It can help you learn more about your customers and what they want, help you to identify emerging trends in your market and formulate better sales propositions.

When thinking of actionable, insight-giving data; are we wrong to think only in terms of Big-Data? Does size matter? Is it possible for a business to work smarter with the data they already have and without huge costs implications?

There is no need to plunge head-long in to adopting some huge IT project to start your business down this road. While the ability to visualise and gain insights from ‘Big-Data’ can lead to impressive results, it is crucial for any business not to neglect the small data that is already being collected on a day to day basis as a natural by-product of your operational processes. It is equally important for businesses not to ignore additional data that is within easy reach with just a few small steps in the right direction.

The more you know about your customers and prospects, the easier it is to sell to to them for the first time or over and over again. So the more you understand of the data created by the interactions taking place between you and your customers (even your website and prospective customers) is only going to be of greater value to you now and in the future.
Small data would be contact details for social followers, email addresses, physical addresses, telephone numbers, info on contact preferences, transaction history etc. Perhaps even fostering a better understanding of who is engaging with your web presence. If a business improves on capturing and collating small data and apply this understanding to improving services and offers – there are be many benefits to be had. There are also a number of advantages regarding the credibility of this type of ‘Small-Data’.
1) It’s accurate: Generally a business can easily stay on top of their small data simply by ensuring systems are in place (CRM systems, accounting systems etc) and by recording contact details along with communication details and transaction history. If you are determined to collect more information as and where possible; then ensuring staff are informed and engaged with internal systems is a simple but worthwhile training process to adhere to.

2) It’s also easy for a company to take-stock, and think more carefully about the level of personal information (data) they seek to collect though stages of the customer engagement and buying cycle. Small data also tends to be easier for a company to capture, map and apply in the real world.
3) Simple Verification steps can be conceived of for different stages of the customer life-cycle; helping you to capture more information and in return getting more value. Verification methods can be employed to understand contact preferences for customers, device preferences and many other snippets of useful info. Other strategies ( special offers, surveys, content marketing, competitions) can also be implemented to get more and more information surrounding your customers.

A common problem with ‘Big-Data’ or 3rd party data surrounds the quality and accuracy of the information at hand, this can obviously create misleading insights and the potential for wasted marketing budget. With ‘Small-Data’ generated 1st hand- direct from your customers; accuracy and quality can be guaranteed.

4) It’s functional: Small data is easy to activate for your commercial gain and a business can more-readily expect a productive response to data-driven sales and marketing strategies. This is because you as a company have much more control over the methods and activities designed to capture the exact information you need in the first place.

Big-Data sets require a significant level of expertise (and expense) to help with useful applications, which in itself can be prohibitive for smaller businesses. Obviously big data can lead to valuable returns, but the bigger the data set and number of sources providing the data, (especially where 3rd parties are involved), the bigger the chance for inaccuracies and for time  wasted on trying to analyse what the data means, so there’s always more potential for misdirection in applications.
Of course there’s always room for small-data to be inaccurately recorded, even a mistake as simple as a member of staff inaccurately recording a potential customer’s phone number would mean you may have no way of going back to that prospect. Generally with small data you have much more control of what you are recording and why, as well as the accuracy of the data itself.

5) It’s available: Forget all talk of data-scientists, transformational IT, and machine-learning (for now). Yes, platforms exist to help you visualise what your data is saying, and yes you may be able to apply predictive modelling so you know which of the customers you’ve done business with in 2017 are most likely to be in need of your support or services again in June 2019.

Remember though, there is a wealth of useful data surrounding your business right now, and it could be at your fingertips and making a real difference with little additional effort.

It’s more a commitment to a new state-of-mind in making your business ‘data-driven’ that;s required and that will ensure you become effective at capturing what’s useful and then activating what you know to your commercial gain.

Whether you’re in B2C or B2B markets, there are incredibly useful and insightful systems to be deployed with great speed, ease and at very low costs, which will mean you instantly get far more information on who is visiting your website? What they are doing? What marketing channel is actually working? And what is making the phone ring? This is the kind of data even the mighty Google Analytics does not give you.

Expanding your understanding about the small data surrounding your business and customers is an intelligent step for any business to take. A better understanding of how prospects are engaging with your business for the first time; who they are? How they choose to communicate with you? And as much detail regarding their preferences, will allow you to hone your marketing efforts, ultimately this involves spending less & making more which can only be good for your bottom-line.
Small Data can be a big deal for small business.

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