It seems that these days if you want to make big money, you need to use Big Data. Big Data is information that is deemed too large and/or complicated for traditional tools to obtain, process, and store. It’s an exponential increase in the amount of information provided, the speed in which it can be obtained, and both the sources and types of data available.

Back in the mists of pre-Internet civilization, businesses got information about their customers’ spending habits via surveys and plain old sales figures. Nowadays, these methods are supplemented with information gathered by means of modern technology, and there you have the new conduit for Big Data. Information like GPS data, posts on social media, search and browsing histories, and credit card purchase information all fall under the umbrella of Big Data, and there’s a lot of it, and used especially by the big companies.

Fortunately, Big Data can also be used by small businesses these days, allowing the little guy to play with the same tools as the big boys do. Take a look on how you can make Big Data work for you.

Big Data Information, Real World Application
A small business could make changes based on user profiles, habits, and other patterns that are highlighted by Big Data. For example, a store that sells yarn may change its hours or bring in more employees (or conversely have fewer staff) to accommodate particular customer traffic patterns.

Customers who have specific complaints about a store’s layout could be the incentive to experiment with a store’s layout to better accommodate customer flow-through. And if you think that’s a minor detail, I can personally vouch for the fact that my wife and I no longer frequent this one book store in our area because they rearranged the store in such a confusing and unpleasant way that it would make the Minotaur in the labyrinth weep with frustration.

If a small business can get their hands on information about the trending purchased of goods and services, the business can initiate changes to inventory levels in order to best conform to these habits, spending money on items that are popular, and not so much on the slow sellers. That’s a savings of money while coming across as having exactly what the customer wants, which in turn enhances the reputation of the business and creates not only a repeat customer but favorable word of mouth.

Big Data can provide geographical data gleaned from GPS technology or sites like FourSquare, so that a company with multiple stores can actually custom-design promotions, contests, and deals that are made special for the locales in question.

Big Data can also guide how advertisement and e-mail campaigns are done, making them more personalized and targeting the right audience (while in turn not alienating the people who aren’t interested).

What all of this means is that small businesses can stop being distracted by useless tactics and instead stay focused on the big data bottom line.

How To Exploit Big Data
For starters, you can try to process Big Data as a do it yourself exercise. Get your hands on a data processing platform like Hadoop, and give it a shot. You’ll have to allocate personnel to do that, people who would otherwise be doing other tasks in your business, so that’s a consideration.

Alternatively, you can hire a company that specializes in analyzing Big Data and presenting it to their customers in easy, bite-sized chunks.

Either way, it will end up costing you, but these days you simply cannot afford not to use Big Data. You can rest assured that your competitors are most likely doing so.

Everyone Wins
Reaching the right people is a careful balancing act, fraught with uncertainty. Big Data helps remove some of that guesswork, while in turn providing your customers with the goods, services, and outreach that they really want. With more efficient targeting of consumers, your marketing dollars will go further, which comes in handy if you have concerns about whether or not you’re spending enough. That means spending less, and making more.

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