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Big Data for the Little Guy

DZone's Guide to

Big Data for the Little Guy

Can small businesses benefit from Big Data analytics in the same way as mega-corporations do? Yes, they can.

· Big Data Zone
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Small businesses can be forgiven for looking at Big Data and saying "no thanks." After all, everything about Big Data screams out "Big!," hence the clever name. Big Data is a huge amount of information gained from a huge number of wildly differing sources, and delivered at rapid speeds. Clearly, Big Data is a big toy for the big boys, right?

Wrong. Dead wrong. Big Data is a useful tool for the little guy too. Let's take a close look at how Big Data and small businesses are a great fit.

Small businesses can benefit from Big Data just as much as the big boys do.

Understanding Your Customers

People are fickle, unpredictable, and when you get right down to it, downright weird and ornery. How can anyone hope to understand them? Fortunately, Big Data has your back.

Data sets derived from Big Data can help you analyze spending patterns, for instance. That kind of information will show you which of your products and services are most purchased, and when demand is high. Big Data can help demystify the whole concept of demographics and help you gain a better understanding of what people are thinking.

Improving Your Business' Operations

The beauty of data is that it comes with no preconceived notions. The article "Big Data for the Little Business" explains that people see what they are conditioned to see, and therefore it's more difficult for them to take a step back and see things from an outsider's perspective. Big Data is cold and rational, and its findings are not biased. As the saying goes, "the numbers don't lie."

If your company needs to run better, Big Data can give you clues as to where the weak spots lie, finding patterns and trends that are detrimental to your business. Consider Big Data as a neutral third party, giving a clear perspective.

Improving Your Product

Not only can Big Data help you to run your company smoother, it can also help guide you in making your products better. Big Data can show a business how customers are using its products, thereby giving a clue as to what the next version of the product should look like.

For example, if your business made a multi-functional tool, like a combination flashlight/bottle opener/screwdriver/scissors, and you solicited feedback from customers, the data collected might show that no one uses the scissors. So when it comes time for designing the 2.0 version of your tool, you could drop the scissors and add something else.

Things like video game play-testing or voting on which new potato chip flavor a company should choose are two more examples of information and feedback that falls under the umbrella of Big Data. The more input you have from customers, the greater the likelihood that your product will be well-received.

Watching Out For The Other Guy

Last but not least, Big Data can provide you with information on how your competitors are doing. Big Data can show you other companies' profit and loss, growth rate, how much they're spending, and a lot more. It's a convenient way of keeping an eye on your rivals without having to resort to elaborate, time-consuming methods. And who knows? That sort of data may also be a gateway into further data searches that may help pinpoint the reasons why they're doing so well.

There are many more ways that Big Data can help a small business. But the one constant throughout all of them is the importance of acquiring the data, analyzing it, and applying it properly. In fact, it need not even be applied on a grand scale; start off small and use the data to address just one challenge, and work from there.

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Topics:
big data

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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