By Ade Shannon
Interest in Big Data has reached new heights for many small companies as they attempt to capture information to glean insights from the ongoing conversations on social channels such as Facebook, twitter and consumer blogs.
Businesses large and small face the challenge of vying for consumers who look around and research extensively for the right deal before they buy. And when they do make a buying decision, they express their views and talk about it to everyone – instantly. They blog about it, they post reviews, they want to be heard, they want dialog. They also will loudly change brands and loyalties if crossed. In short, consumers are increasingly influencers, informed, expressive and networked shoppers who have evolved into “networks of intelligence” and a key voice for a brand.
With consumer behavior so volatile, marketers need to know what consumers want, before the consumers do themselves. Besides analyzing their own data to learn how they have performed in the past, businesses need to be able to look forward and change before the market does.
It’s this data that allows small businesses to provide personalization and customization tailored to the specific needs and wants of individual consumers – just as local merchants used to do, only better. However, many small businesses still lack Big Data expertise.
Small businesses are starting to grasp the gold that is buried in the vast amounts of data generated by shoppers using social media and mobile devices. They are just looking for ways to mine this data to gain insight.
By 2020, Big Data will help increase the level of personalization, localization and other considerations that enable small businesses to enhance their presentation. Take, for example, social shopping: consumers involve friends and others, sharing and liking real-time text and photo streams during the shopping experience, and perhaps driving these participants to buy. Big Data also is driving automation, creating a wealth of new smart apps and technologies able to anticipate our needs. Or its prompting issue-influenced decisions, where consumers consider sustainability or conservation as part of their purchase decision process.
Applying Big Data analytics can help small retailers track and understand what’s being said out there. But the leap in value comes when they combine this intelligence with theirs and other data sources in a meaningful way, to mute the social data noise from the valuable insights and move their business forward.
The technologies to achieve these goals for small businesses are available and more affordable than most small businesses expect, especially when factoring in the losses from a lack of investment in a world where competitors are. What’s required are the smarts: knowing which questions to ask of the data and how the organization can best use what it finds. Understanding the value of Big Data is generating increasing demand among small businesses for insight on how to better understand and connect with consumers.
As small businesses learn how to take advantage of customer data and evolving consumer marketing channels, their operations will continue to change significantly. Small businesses will take note if you can show them how to gain consumer insights from their own data. The collaboration with a local technology provider can help a small business take advantage of some of the most effective methods to gain this data insight, while simultaneously bringing a deep level of industry expertise.
Small businesses that understand this consumer value variation will be best positioned to stay ahead of the competition in this Big Data revolution.
Over the next few years, emerging analytical technologies will covert even more daunting data streams into actionable business insight and provide consumers with a more satisfying shopping experience – one worth spreading the word about.