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TechSpot: Big Data

Thought Leader

TechSpot: Big Data

The term Big Data is getting people very excited at the moment. It is the name given to the huge volume of data that businesses receive on a day-to-day basis, such as customer buying patterns, social media activity, website browsing patterns, industry forecasts and so on. Businesses have always been inundated with data, both accidentally and deliberately, but the difference now is that technology can now provide the tools to collate this information and analyse it. This means it can be used by a company to make better strategic decisions. By understanding customers spending patterns, for example, a firm will get a clearer idea of when to run promotions and when to launch new products.

Up to now most of the talk has focused on how large firms can capture and use big data, because analysing it can be expensive in terms of tools, software and manpower, making it out of reach for small firms.

The good news though is there are a lot of free and low cost tools which small firms can use to understand the big data that comes their way too.

Google Analytics, for example, will help you understand how customers and potential customers use your website – where they come from, which pages they look at, how long they stay, at what point they get bored. Google Adwords will help you track what products and services potential customers are looking for online. Hootsuite, Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics will help you make sense of all the data you collect on social media – in particular how the type of content you provide increases or decreases the amount of user traffic to your channels.

Small firms can also take advantage of the free data that is increasingly being placed online by the government and other large corporations – statistics on weather patterns, for example, can help you work out staffing requirements, or likelihood of people buying your products at certain times of year, while data on demographics can help you discover where your potential customers live and so where you should focus your sales efforts.

For small business, the secret to using big data effectively is to focus on finding answers to specific questions which have real business value, for example whether an advertising campaign is working, rather than trying to analyse every bit of data that comes your way. That way you will find your answer quickly, and for the least possible time, effort and cost.