Big data, AI, and machine learning used to be limited to large organizations with deep pockets. Amazon, Google, Facebook, and other tech giants invest hundreds of millions of dollars per year in AI to develop new products, launch marketing programs, and expand their platforms.
Today, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have the ability to leverage the same types of tools as the tech giants to get more out of their data. Budgetary limits and lack of access to technology are no longer the obstacles they used to be. Many SMBs are consistently demonstrating the wherewithal to grow and prosper, thanks to the availability of data, technologies, and partnerships.
Data Is More Readily Accessible
Data continues to become more accessible than ever before. It’s either already within your systems or within reach, given the right tools and guidance. You’re probably collecting customer data through your CRM and other systems. Website analytics provide a treasure trove of customer data. There’s also a lot of data readily available through external sources – it’s just a matter of accessing it.
It is also much easier to integrate your data sets to produce valuable insights. You don’t have to do deep dives into your data when you’re starting the process. You can make small, incremental improvements in data transparency within specific teams or across the organization. For example, you can target a specific issue or metric (e.g., customer response time, satisfaction ratings). You can also focus your analysis on a niche, market, keyword, customer segment or product category to gain significant insights.
Using your own easily accessible data, and targeting low-hanging fruit with your data analysis, helps to create small yet important wins. This leads to incremental advances and garners support from stakeholders for more investment in data analytics. This approach provides immediate returns for SMBs and shows the power of leveraging data.
Analytical Tools and Partners Are More Readily Available
Data is great to have but you need the right tools to get meaningful value from it. Fortunately, analytics and enabling technologies are readily available and affordable. Analytical tools and integrations across systems are also growing rapidly, far more accessible to SMBs than ever before.
Many applications and software packages provide analytics as regular features. These tools enable SMBs to generate visualizations that are easy to absorb and understand at a glance. Patterns, trends, and analyses are relatively straightforward to pull out of the data. Dashboard tools enable different departments to share their own data and KPIs for internal analysis.
What’s more is that SMBs don’t have to go it alone or hire additional internal resources. They can bring in experienced guidance to leverage their data without having to hire permanent staff or invest in expensive systems. Data analytics foundations – which were historically internally owned and created systems – are now available to SMBs through a broad range of technologies, consulting practices, and supportive partnerships. Rather than having to hire and train employees with the right combination of knowledge and expertise, they can work with partners who have the expertise, industry knowledge, and tools to guide their data analysis efforts.
Many SMBs have narrow yet deep knowledge and expertise within their industry. Bringing in a trusted partner with broad experience and expertise across different industries can produce numerous dividends, including the application of knowledge from areas outside the SMB’s core industry or business. This provides another layer of depth, different perspectives, and broader best practices to be leveraged, driving improved insights from their data.
Data analytics is not limited to large corporations with deep pockets. SMBs can leverage easily accessible data, affordable technologies, and outside experts to produce actionable data-based insights. Starting small does not preclude any organization from getting the most out of big data. It’s just a matter of working with the right data, technologies, and partners.