How small businesses can benefit from big data

Posted by Justin Hesser on May 30, 2012

According to an article in Harvard Business Review (HBR), in order to make the most of "big data" you need to know how to crunch the numbers. While Google can attract fleets of top-notch data analysts, many smaller companies can't afford to maintain or even hire that kind of talent. Some of them go young and seek out college grads but others may invest in a custom database software that can provide the analytical tools needed to process data. Others may even outsource this service with data consultants.

Once companies are able to understand the data, it's time to decide which aspects to use and what are extraneous. HBR uses the example of VinoEno – a winery – that set out to use data to improve its operations. VinoEno's employees not only need to know how to read the data efficiently, but also access it across multiple platforms. The company needed to make a choice on what collection and analysis tools were going to handle its needs.

After this, companies are going to need to decide which types of information make the cut and which are going to stay as numbers in a database. Not every statistic is important to a business, and, for the most part, the statistics any given company will use can vary from one to the other.

The way a company shapes a custom database to handle the data they intend on understanding is determined by the type of company they are. Without a firm understanding of the way they operate, small businesses are not going to be able to get the most out of this increasingly popular way of looking at data.