The term Big Data conjures images of a monolithic, all-knowing, and possibly sinister entity. It follows you around on the internet, knows your birthday and shoe size. It’s associated with huge data breaches and data-enhanced “fake news” targeting.  No wonder many small business owners think of big data as unwieldy and out of reach.

Despite sounding like “Big Daddy” (the father of Big Brother), big data is not an entity. It’s an umbrella term we use to identify the technologies that help us gather, organize, analyze, synthesize, and prioritize information. These tools are key to staying competitive, and they’re becoming more affordable every day.

This last summer, Arnie Gordon, President of Arlyn Scales, wrote an article for Forbes magazine about “How Your Small Business Can Make Use Of Big Data Now”.  He points out four uses for small business owners:

  • Know your customers better.
  • Create better marketing campaigns.
  • Make sense of social media.
  • Embrace The Future Of Big Data.

And that’s just for starters. An article in AdAge earlier this year, “It’s Time for Small Business to Embrace Big Data” put it this way:

In today’s digital age, it’s now all about engaging your customers seamlessly across the buyer’s journey and delivering the right message, at the right time, via the right channel. Customer experience is expected to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator in the very near future. With customers’ digital footprint available to us through myriad touchpoints online, data is the name of the game.

The good news is you don’t have to jump in the deep end right away.  It’s easy enough to start small, and there are plenty of articles and resources out there to help you find data solutions that are a good fit for your business.  I recommend starting with this article from Business News Daily, “8 Big Data Solutions for Small Businesses” or check out the case studies in “What 3 Small Businesses Learned From Big Data”.

The time to embrace the future is yesterday, but today is not too late. However, if you’re unwilling to adapt and still bragging about being a dinosaur, try to remember how that turned out for them.

photo credit: Canadian Pacific Dinosaur via photopin (license)