Out of OfficeOut of Office Blog

Big Data for Small Businesses

Penelope TrunkPenelope Trunk

PT3Big data is moving into every sector imaginable. Scientists are analyzing reams of data to try to clean up our food supply. Doctors will start using metadata to estimate a patient’s risk and provide treatment via spreadsheet instead of an office visit. Whatever industry you’re in, you can be sure your company will benefit from getting smart about big data.

Need help with big data for your small biz? Here are a few simple steps to starting your journey with metadata:

Step 1.  Don’t get hoodwinked with huge projects.

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You can do a lot with company data, which can be collected though an infinite amount of ways. This means a project plan from a consultant could end up being large and expensive. As a precaution, set an amount of money that you’d like to spend to give big data a shot. Tell consultants your budget and see who proposes something interesting for that amount of money.

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Step 2.  Start small and get ROI before expanding.

You can see what sort of projects work best for your company by examining the Return on Investment (ROI) every time. Define a project scope clearly, and set a date to evaluate ROI. If there is no valuable return, stop with that consultant. This doesn’t mean big data doesn’t work for you. It means you need to give another consultant a try. Someone will understand your business well and show you ROI on a small initial investment. Your job is to find that person by giving lots of people small budgets to show their mettle.

Step 3.  Don’t be afraid of investing once you’ve seen it work.

Most things are scary when you start — especially open-ended areas like big data. But if you can find someone who consistently delivers ROI, then you will learn as you go, and as this person tackles one project after another, you’ll learn the benefits and risks of working with big data. Then you can make thoughtful, informed decisions about where big data fits in your small business.

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You will find success fastest by asking good questions and running tests to find answers. “What do your customers want?” is an obvious one. “Do your product launches create buzz without any marketing?” is another.

You can find answers to both of those questions with the right data. In the best scenario, the smarter questions you ask, the more you will know about your business.

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