The information age dawned decades ago, and its full potential for small businesses is just now cresting the horizon of a brilliant future. A nearly unfathomable amount of information is being generated about your current and potential customers regarding their habits, likes and dislikes, demographics, psychographics and lifestyles. The amount of information is doubling every two years.
To win the future, your company must create products and services for a community of loyal customers you’ve developed, and every step in the process will informed by the wealth of data, known as Big Data, available. The key will be tapping into that torrent of data and channeling it into usable streams of information. It’s being done already by today’s fastest-growing small businesses. The opportunity to do the same is available to you.
Channeling the Data into Streams of Success
One of the profitable new realities of cloud-based computing is that your company can more easily make use of both the data it generates and data scoured from the broader Internet to improve its performance. It is analytics in the cloud, and it is working in ways such as:
- Analyzing what people search for on Google
- Sorting information available on social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn that can assist in your product/service development and marketing
- Discovering the shopping and purchasing habits of people in your target demographics
- Matching job applicants’ abilities with employers’ needs and cultures
- Developing informational snapshots of the people visiting your website
- Targeting visitors with specific ads and offers they’ll find appealing
Consider the two options that lay before you for mining big data for these and many other processes that will bear fruit for your company. First, you can make expensive hardware and software purchases to collect, store and sort information and hire IT support for in-house analytics of the data.
The second option is the trending one – to select a cloud-based analytics provider with the expertise to turn that torrent of data into information streams that are easy to understand and put to use toward your success.
One advantage to this strategy is putting to work for your business the experts that analyse big data all day, every day, using proven infrastructure and software.
Additionally, the economies of scale make this the cost-effective choice. The provider’s costs are spread out over a large number of client companies, so your expenses are modest. Rather than make a large capital expenditure upfront, you pay for the services you use at the level you need. The process is scalable, so your costs will rise in a smooth trajectory with no expense spikes as your business and your need for big data analysis grow.
Finally, growing competition in the big data analytics industry is producing constant improvement in the services offered.
What to Look for in an Analytics Company
If you make the move to the cloud for your analytics, look for a product that offers following features:
- Customer relationships management (CRM)
- Efficient collection and distribution of data on customer shopping and purchasing habits
- Seamless integration of POS and ERP information
- The ability to effectively categorize data, assisting you in creating strategies to improve both the experience and loyalty of customers
- Simplified access to important data for all users without requiring assistance from IT personnel
- The ability to pull data from a range of sources including Windows applications, third-party data and Hadoop-based systems such as Cloudera.
- Customized analytics for each user through data filters and a wizard tool.
The Wave Analytics Cloud (and supporting Wave Analytics App) seems to be most popular choice at the moment, although SAP Cloud for Analytics and Oracle Business Analytics are following right behind.
The Bottom Line Benefits
The keys to your success just might be locked in the big data generated by your company’s daily performance and by the broader Internet. The ability to analyze the data effectively will allow you to develop winning strategies in this competitive business climate.