Admit it: If you’re like many entrepreneurs, you’re likely still in the early stages of digital transformation. And you’re not alone. An SAP-sponsored survey of global small businesses found many of them aren’t quite as up-to-speed as larger companies when it comes to using big data in the workplace.
That may be because smaller businesses tend to overestimate the potential challenges of adopting new technology. But there are lots of simple ways you can effectively gather, analyze and make sense of data you already have without spending big bucks.
1. Know your game plan
You’ve enticed visitors to your website: great. Now, what do you want them to do while they’re there? Your analytics goals should be based on the actions you want visitors to your site to take. Ask yourself questions such as, “Am I tempting visitors to purchase our product?” or “Which specific content do I want them to download?”
Obviously, this goes beyond looking for hits on your site. Once you know what questions you want answered and the site pages you need to monitor, you’ll be better positioned to translate website visits into conversions, and shift your focus accordingly.
2. Boost collaboration
Today, cloud storage providers such as Amazon Cloud Services have grown exponentially in creating cloud and data storage for small businesses. Providing access to centralized files and data used to carry a hefty price tag for software subscriptions and consulting time.
But the recent development of affordable cloud services means you can open files on any computer anywhere in the world, even when you’re offline. Often you just need the internet and a small subscription fee to use these services.
Many subscriptions offer shared folders so you and your staff can work on presentations together without the version control and bandwidth issues of emailing versions back and forth.
3. Gain better customer knowledge
According to software experts SAS, one of the biggest advantages of incorporating big data into business operations is the ability to analyze historical information and use the insights gained to make informed decisions for the future quickly.
Recommendations from huge corporations with big budgets may seem daunting, but you don’t need expensive software to begin gathering data. It can start from an asset you already have: your website.
Google Analytics, Google’s free web-traffic-monitoring tool, provides all types of data about website visitors, using a multitude of metrics and traffic sources to help you learn helpful information about your site visitors.
Small businesses can also take advantage of public data sets and use these free tools to analyze them for change-driving insights. For example, a dog walking service could use social media to identify pockets of potential customers in their area. A fast-food app could provide valuable metrics such as how far away average customers live, how much they spend and what time of day they like to eat.
With this type of information, businesses can engage and learn about potential customers’ pain points and shopping habits more accurately. They also can start to learn why customers switch to competitors and even predict what they’ll buy next.
4. Work in real time
In many ways, big data insights are suited to startups in ways that don’t work for larger business. After all, even the brightest glimmers of insight are pointless if you’re not agile enough to act on them. Small businesses generally have the advantage of agility, making them perfectly suited to act on insights with speed.
You can use this type of machine learning in your own company to monitor the changing behaviors, interests and engagement of your customers and to tweak a campaign in real time. This can help you appeal more to certain users with quick actions such as sending a coupon or discount code of specific interest.
Big data analysis is redefining business, for both small and large organizations — but the first step is creating a structured plan. With proper planning and preparation, your insights will appear with more predictable regularity and enable you to compete with the big guns in the marketplace.