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Big data is just the right size for small businesses

Rachel Wheeler

November 15, 2012

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A few years ago, big data was something that only the largest organizations could tap into. Defined by velocity, volume and variety, the information that can be collected from consumers' purchasing histories, browsing activities on websites and contact information from email newsletter opt-ins can be used to improve marketing campaigns and ultimately boost sales. These strategies are now being adopted by smaller firms that want to take advantage of better business intelligence, according to Business Insider.

New tech tools help small businesses make use of data
The potential to make more informed decisions has inspired the development of systems such as Swipely. Angus Davis launched the platform, which combines credit card processing - something most independent firms already do - with data analytics. Davis designed the Swipely system to put better business intelligence in small business owners' hands so they can offer the level of personalization demonstrated by much larger players like Apple, according to Upstart, the entrepreneurial branch of the Business Journals.

"As marketers, we think about the ways large companies can benefit from tools and technologies, but small businesses fuel the American economy," Davis said at a Startup Summit in North Carolina, as quoted by the source. "There is an even bigger opportunity if we can take some of the best practices in ecommerce and bring that to the folks every day doing 95 percent of retail sales."

The platform makes it easier for businesses to compile the information that's already being captured by their point-of-sale terminals, websites and loyalty programs. However, simply containing the data will not necessarily produce the results they are looking for, Business Insider adds. Insight comes only after firms have put the data to good use and interpreted it.

Deploying the systems is only the first step, upholding data quality is the second
It's crucial that small businesses don't get caught up in the promise of big data and make investments that will go to waste. Along with analytics systems, the source reports companies must first train employees to extract the hidden nuggets of information that can give them a leg up. To avoid issues with mismatched, inaccurate or missing content, companies may also need to implement data quality tools.

Without these quality measures in place, they may not know that their sales are down because a nearby company moved out of the market, or that a loyal client might be interested in new products and services because he or she recently stepped into a new role at work.
 

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