Small Companies Need Big Data


Here’s a quick quiz for the owners of small businesses. Do you know what big data is?

Here’s a quick quiz for the owners of small businesses. Do you know what big data is? You might have read about big data. You might have even read that people businesses who study big data use it to forge a more powerful relationship to customers and gain an edge over their competition. But as a small business owner you’re busy. You have to hire three more employees . You have to approve your product’s new marketing strategy. And you need to find a new location that will better serve your growing business. This doesn’t mean, though, you can dismiss big data, and here’s why:

Defining Big Data

John Weathington, while writing for the TechRepublic Web site, defines big data as massive amounts of rapidly moving and freely available information that serves a valuable need in the business marketplace. Business owners who have access to big data about their own customers’ wants and needs, and willingness to pay to get what they desire, can have a big competitive advantage, especially in a difficult economy. Unfortunately, as Weathington writes, it’s hard for small business owners to access and analyze big data. The ones that do it, though, will be rewarded.

Big Data In Action

Knowing the definition is one thing, actually using big data to draw in new clients is another. Fortunately, CIO Magazine recently took a look at three companies that market themselves in part by highlighting their ability to make use of big data to help their clients make better choices. Consider Financial Engines. This financial firm, as CIO writes, utilizes large financial data sets and advanced analytical tools to help customers successfully plan their retirements. Because the firm has use of retirement statistics, trends and data, it has little trouble grabbing new clients.

CIO also points to a company called Exmobaby that sells baby pajamas that include built-in biosensors. These sensors send health data from babies to their parents. You can bet this usage of data sets — the health information from babies themselves — attracts parents who want the best for their little ones. Then there’s the start-up Parchment, which analyzes databases of student information — from grade point averages to SAT scores to college-acceptance data — to help their clients, students, choose and apply for colleges. The advantage this company provides? It will help students apply to those colleges statistically most likely to accept them. Big data, then, helps both businesses and consumers. It will help consumers make smarter choices, and it also helps those companies who provide this data gain new business.