Big. Scary. Expensive. Right? Big data is a term being thrown around by internet and marketing gurus quite a bit these days. It’s a complex topic with complex analytics that only super-human scientist types understand. Well, sort of. Yes, big data is complex. But you don’t have to be super-human to understand it. And you don’t have to be in big business to take advantage of what big data, or even small data has to offer.
What is big data anyway?
For the record, big data is defined in this article from Forbes as a collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside your company that represents a source for ongoing discovery and analysis. Common sources of big data include digital inputs like web behavior and social network interactions and activity. As such, big companies have so much big data that they require complex software systems run by skilled staff to collect, organize and interpret the massive volume of information being gathered every day. Big data gives big companies an edge by providing a much deeper understanding of their customers’ interests, likes and dislikes. This granular level of information is a gold mine for their marketing teams.
Then what is small data?
According to our friends at TechTarget, small data is data in a volume and format that makes it accessible, informative and actionable. Small data typically provides information that answers a specific question or addresses a specific problem. Examples of small data are sales data, inventory reports, demographics and buying habits like online purchase or automated reorder. Small data is anything you know about your customer base. This information is as valuable to you as big data is to a big company. The key is knowing what to do with it. A somewhat simplified example would be walking into your favorite tavern and sitting in your regular seat. The bartender greets you by name and brings your favorite beverage without having to ask what you want. Small data used to deliver exceptional customer service.
What to do about it
Small data is not limited to helping you develop a better relationship with your customers. It can also help you streamline your operations, improve customer service, boost sales and drive a host of other business building initiatives. Start by building an information strategy. Now don’t run screaming from the room at the sight of the word strategy. Building a strategy can be simple. And data is everywhere in your business. You are probably already using much of this information, it’s just never been labeled as small data before. But it’s time to label it, leverage it and get the most from your business.
The bottom line: leverage everything you know about your customers and your business. Any data that is easy for you to access, collect and interpret will provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions and powerful change.
In our next article, we will offer ideas on where to look for data, ways to capture it and how to get the most out of the information.