No matter what industry you’re in, there are massive amounts of data to wade through. Even information for past sales, customers and inventory can become overwhelming. This collection is difficult to sort through, so many businesses turn to big data tactics to help them analyze and use it to their advantage.
The global big data market nears $49 billion as more companies see the need for insights beyond the capabilities of traditional data processing. Although traditionally used by big corporate players, the expansion of the cloud and access to information has made big data analysis accessible to even small business owners. When it comes to big data, you can spend a lot of money and not get the results you want. It’s essential to understand the dos and don’ts of analysis for your own business.
Do: Know Where To Start
Big data is only valuable to you if you have use for it. Think about your company’s processes and what type of report might help you improve. For example, if your goal is to serve current customers better, you need to look at comments, complaints and the products and services current customers buy. Amazon is a company that uses information from their massive customer base to figure out past order patterns and make recommendations on products you might be interested in.
Do: Make Data Accessible
Your sales department may have asked for data sets, but that doesn’t mean other company departments — such as marketing — won’t benefit from the same information. Whenever you run reports, make them available company-wide.
Allow everyone in your business to get on the same page and offer a tool they can pull from as needed. Some departments may not need the information. If they do, however, it’s easy to pull it up and study.
Do: Have A Problem
Some organizations jump on board with big data without a problem that needs to be solved. Collected information is useless if it’s not centered on a specific pain point in the company. It’s better to know what you’re looking for before you run reports. When you have a question in mind, the results will provide an answer.
For example, a financial institution might run a historical review of their trading data to ensure they’re keeping everything above board. They can also look for patterns that might get them in trouble with the U.S. Justice Department.
Do: Create Enough Storage
Big data takes up a ton of space, running into the petabytes — a million gigabytes. Most small brands don’t have the capabilities or budget to store that much data. Fortunately, some companies offer to keep everything in the cloud and tap into public data to run reports.
Do: Understand Data Laws
Consumer privacy has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds due to recent data breaches and the implementation of the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) in the EU. Take time to carefully review data collection and storage rules for your customers to avoid hefty fines. You must disclose to your customers what information you collect, how you store it and its intended use. However, you’re also responsible for securing data and protecting it from hackers. Successful companies keep their own information and their customers’ data safe with strict password policies.
Don’t: Forget Traditional Sources
Big data has its purpose and can help give you an edge over the competition. However, don’t forget smaller data sources that are still valuable to day-to-day business operations.
Comparing big data and traditional results give you a full picture of how your company functions. You’ll quickly see patterns in consumer behavior or the internal operations of your business.
Don’t: Assume Data Is Correct
Running reports and analyzing data helps create a concept of your business. However, the cold hard facts don’t take into account the personality of your brand or the unique needs of your customers and employees. Always run any data through the filter of your philosophy as a company. Don’t make firm and fast rules that prevent people from meeting individual needs.
For example, an automaker may find that customers trade-in cars every two years. Therefore, they offer fewer miles on the warranty. This two-year trade-up, however, may not apply to every customer. One workaround is the extended warranty offer. If someone plans to keep their car for an extended time, they can invest in an extended warranty to cover costly repairs.
Don’t: Forget About Ethics
Many big players, such as Capital One, use big data to determine what offers to send to customers and the optimal times to send. However, it’s easy to forget about basic ethics when you have an endless amount of information at your fingertips. A widowed woman, for example, might be vulnerable to an offer for a reverse mortgage, though it isn’t in her best interests. If you act with integrity instead of focusing on the dollar, your company will keep a positive reputation in the public eye. Use big data solutions wisely and do not forget about ethics.
Big data is there to better understand the needs of your customers and achieve your goals. A range of technology exists to help you break down and analyze data. Determine which work best for you and fit your budget. Then, apply a little common sense to your big data strategies to move forward.