How small businesses can succeed with their big data projects

(c)iStock.com/Matej Moderc

It’s no secret that businesses are excited about the possibilities they can gain from big data; large corporations have been tapping big data analytics for years as a way to increase revenue and improve efficiency.

Small businesses, on the other hand, may feel a bit left out of the trend. Big data, after all, sounds like a complex strategy using the latest technology to discover important insights. In other words, it’s something that feels like is out of reach. But that would be a mistake. Small businesses now have access to big data solutions thanks to decreasing costs and greater understanding of its uses.

The big questions small businesses have is how best they can use it. With so many possibilities ripe for the taking, what strategy can they pursue to ensure their big data projects are successful? While no strategy is fool proof, there are a number of guidelines small businesses can adopt to increase their chances for success.

Adopting a big data strategy will certainly be a change of pace for a small business. Big data has the potential to completely change how a company operates and what they focus on. Due to this factor, it’s important that small businesses trying out big data for the first time don’t aim too big. Keep expectations manageable. Big data can be collected from a vast array of sources, but if a small business narrows its focus, it will be able to pinpoint specific ways in which it can use big data.

One good place to start is through augmenting the knowledge and data that a small business already has. There’s no need to install Internet of Things sensors to collect data for a company to analyse. Any small business should already have lots of data to examine, from sales data to social media interactions. Mining that information for helpful insights is a good first step before growing a big data strategy.

Specificity is something that applies to all big data projects. Small businesses need to be able to clearly define their goals while also specifying the results they want to achieve. Without clear direction, companies will spend a lot of time collecting and analysing data with no real purpose. Organisations must declare the business cases they’re going after with their big data projects. With this in mind, they’ll be able to proceed with confidence.

Even with these guidelines, small businesses may still struggle implementing big data solutions. In many cases, they’ll have little knowledge of the tools available at their disposal, let alone how to use them in the right way. The answer may be found in the cloud. Just as with many other services, big data analytics is something offered by many cloud service providers. Some of the options are free, while others can be purchased through modest monthly fees, but they all can grant small businesses certain capabilities they’ve never had before.

With big data available through the cloud, small businesses don’t have to worry about investing large sums of money into new software and hardware. Cloud services with a modular data centre can also help smaller companies digitise their existing data, essentially putting them in a form where they can finally be analysed for big data insights.

It all comes down to finding and adopting the right tools. There are a lot of tools available out there, so small businesses need to find one that is user friendly and features a short learning curve. Chances are a small business doesn’t have much in the way of big data experts, so picking an easy-to-use analytics dashboard goes a long way toward promoting a successful big data project. The right tool will help small businesses unify their sources, aiding them in getting the most out of the data already in their hands.

With something as complex as big data, no single solution will provide the pathway to immediate success, but big data projects can be more effective with the above tips in mind. Every small business will have different goals and objectives, but the one unifying aspect is that big data can help them all. Small businesses don’t have to feel like big data is out of reach. If anything, there has been no better time to give it a shot than right now.

Read more: Survey warns about security of small businesses using free cloud storage

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azana.baksh
17 Nov 2016, 8:25 p.m.

Rick, very informative approach when tackling Big Data projects. Many uses of big data have a measurable positive impact on outcomes and productivity. Areas such as record linkage, graph analytics deep learning and machine learning have demonstrated being critical to help in the educational applications you mention as well as many other aspects that help society as a whole. It is worth mentioning the HPCC Systems open source offering which provides a single platform that is easy to install, manage and code. The built-in analytics libraries for Machine Learning make it easy for users to analyze big data. For a compelling eLearning case study, visit: www.hpccsystems.com/case-studies/cpl-online

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JayavelJpa
18 Nov 2016, 3:28 a.m.

ya, thatz true, good information

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