Big Data can also be for SMEs - Business Works
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Big Data can also be for SMEs

by Suzanne Stock, Director, Marketscan The process of collecting and analysing vast data sets - or 'Big Data' - is all the rage with corporates looking to extract further revenue from their customers. For smaller businesses who are unable to afford a virtually infinite data storage system, Big Data is irrelevant. Or is it asks Suzanne Stock of Marketscan?

Not just data collection

Big Data is a two-part process; collection of data, followed by analysis of the data. For SMEs, an emphasis on collection overshadows the business data analysis. Even if your organisation cannot collect unlimited information from your B2B data list, you can still apply many of the analytical techniques to your existing data.

"Even within large enterprises, you generally don’t need mountains of data to gain insight from it: you simply need to be asking the right questions, and smaller companies are just as capable of asking intelligent questions as bigger companies." According to Matt Assay, vice-president of corporate strategy at 10gen.

Linking data sets

Big Data analysis works by centralising data from every aspect of your business. Normally your sales team will maintain a B2B data list, the warehouse has some kind of stock control system and accounts have their own database. In a Big Data environment, each of these applications would be aggregated so that business data analysis takes a holistic view of each customer and their interactions with your company.

For smaller companies, use of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to capture interactions against their B2B data list should provide a good basis for business data analysis. Other systems like Enterprise Resource Planning and accounts can then be linked to provide additional insight without needing to invest in a true 'Big Data' platform.

"Look for ways to connect data sets together to produce more compelling and timely insights. An easy way to do this is to start with one problem you want to solve, something as basic as boosting sales on Tuesdays. By setting specific goals for an initial project you'll be able to home in on the data sets you'll need to pull together." Says Anukool Lakhina, founder and CEO of Guavus.

What would you gain from Big Data business data analysis?

SMEs employing Big Data-like business data analysis techniques stand to recognise many benefits similar to those of their corporate competitors. Linking and analysing the B2B data list with other corporate information stores allows for:

  • Identification of trends and patterns per customer, per segment and per industry vertical.
  • Exploitation of these trends for new sales and marketing through more accurate personalisation and targeting.
  • Identification of previously unrecognised customer needs.
  • Development of new products and services to address these needs.

By working the B2B data list you already maintain, you can gain new competitive advantages and revenue creating opportunities.

"Sweaty Betty, a women’s retailer, used data and geo-demographic services to provide detailed insight into customer profiles, which they then used to help devise new store locations." According to Peter Simons.

Rather than getting caught up in the 'big' aspect of Big Data, SMEs should instead focus on:

  • Applying Big Data-style business data analysis to their existing information stores.
  • Ensuring their B2B data list is fully updated after every customer interaction.
  • Using the B2B data list to inform better targeted sales and marketing efforts.

Learn more about how to use your data to your advantage with this eguide: The business owner’s guide: use data lists to boost the sales pipeline

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