Much has been written recently about “big data”. In case you’re not familiar with the term, Wikipedia describes it as “a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data process applications.” The hope or promise of big data, of course, is that we can mine massive amounts of data to extract deep insights about our world, our businesses and even our customers. The more we know, the better decisions we can make. As a result, global enterprises are investing tens of millions of dollars on these big-data projects.
The trouble is that 99.9% of all businesses in the world don’t have the time, money or computing resources to take advantage of these big-data projects. In fact, only a handful of the Fortune 500 enterprises have the resources to pull off big data projects. But that could be changing.
A new trend is emerging around what we call “big-little” data projects. TrackVia’s co-founder, Chris Basham, describes it as an “approach that helps small and medium sized businesses, as well as departments within larger organizations, reap the benefits by using more targeted resources and less actual data.”
So how do smaller organizations, start-ups and departments take advantage of big-little data projects?
1. Culture: Collecting data is a boring business. And it’s a commitment. Whether you’re tracking website visitors or what your customers like to buy, collecting data has to be a priority in your organization. A good starting point is simply assigning someone to be in charge of collecting, mining and reporting on the data regularly. And keep it simple. Track and analyze the data you already collect around your business. Many businesses are surprised by how much information they – or their employees – are already keeping track of.
2. Ditch spreadsheets: Spreadsheets are great, but even big little data projects deserve more than what a spreadsheet can deliver. Trade it in for a more powerful, user-friendly online database that allows you to link, share and mine your data more deeply and quickly. And using relational databases versus flat spreadsheets allows you to see early trends and make powerful connections.
3. Departmentalize data: Within small or medium sized businesses, enable data mining for specific areas or departments. The finance department might be able to use big-little data in a different way than the sales or marketing team. Give each departments its own database to run and manage their own projects.
4. Make it Personal: The more your big-little data project is connected with your customers, the better. More so than ever, your customers expect you to know more about them, what they like and don’t like. So the more you can track and learn about your customers, the more your organization will benefit.
5. Share: Access to data and the proper mining tools empowers everyone to do their jobs better and deliver more value to the business. At the end of the day, big-little data is all about delivering real value to your business. Saving money. Generating more revenue. Serving your customers better.
Ultimately, big-little data projects are all about improving your business. The exciting part is that new tools and technologies are forever making it easier for businesses large and small to do just that.