Using Big Data for Your Small Business Sales And Marketing (Without Knowing Anything Technical)

Big Data still sounds like a resource only available to a Big Business, complete with tech gurus and Big Five Consultants. But aside from the unfortunate misnomer (“Big”), there is nothing necessarily Big about Big Data. Sure, Big Data can refer to exabytes of recorded touchpoints with customers, but it can also mean a couple of years’ worth of website traffic, combined with point-of-sale data, and Google Trends.

The point is that whoever gave Big Data its name (John Mashey) was extremely excited about the exponential growth of digitized storage. But he was also speaking from the 1990s, back when compact disks (CDs) were also thrilling, and hair stylists ran amok. The cloud did not exist, and computing resources were therefore only available to a handful of people.

Nowadays, his concept of “big,” in today’s terms, is minuscule and easily accessible by all. The best computers from the 90s could not compete with an iPhone 6s; and now the most powerful computers in the world are accessible by all, even Denver SMBs.

If Big Data Isn’t “Big,” What Is It, and How Can You Learn from It?

The more relevant aspect of Big Data is the fact that it is unstructured and messy. Usually, Big Data is aggregated from multiple sources, and powerful computing resources are needed to make sense of it. This aspect makes Big Data completely worthless until we can process it into a meaningful structure.

Fortunately, there are a number of tools out there, which can help you turn raw data into actionable information, most of which offer free trials, so that you can see how the tool works and how useful it will be. The most powerful of these tools and services are:

  • Watson Analytics, by IBM – You might have heard about Watson when the algorithm competed against some of the best Jeopardy players in history, and won. Now, IBM offers this powerful machine learning tool to anyone. Simply upload your data, and the AI will do the rest.
  • ClearStory Data – ClearStory offers mission-specific solutions for industries ranging from healhcare, to food & beverage, to financial services and manufacturing. They also offer tailored solutions for divisions of your business, including Marketing and Customer Analytics.

Becoming Data-Driven in Marketing and Sales

But before you activate the free trials on these cloud-based Big Data analytics solutions, you need to have some business data. Most business software automatically collects data for you as you use it, so all that is needed is to use contemporary Marketing and Sales software. The most powerful data will come from two sources in particular.

  • Google Analytics or any Website Analytics tool (Marketing)
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software (Sales)

Once you begin to incorporate these into your business practice, you will start to build those data sets, recording transactions with prospects and customers. No business is too small to begin the data journey.

Need some extra motivation? How about this: In 2016, McKinsey found that the most digitally-adapted B2Bs significantly outperformed the herd between 2010 and 2015.

During these years, the average annual growth rate of digital masters was 4.3% versus 0.8% of all the rest. In five years, this would mean a difference of almost 20%. If you earned $1 million in 2010, you would be earning $1.23 million in 2015. Everyone else would earn $1.04 million.

Operating profit was an even larger story, with digital masters growing operating profit by over 50% versus an almost 10% reduction for everyone else.

As tools like Watson and ClearStory become more popularly understood, the need to digitize will become greater and greater, as competitors in Denver, the United States, and across the world gain access to more sophisticated technologies that will deliver increasing returns over time.

If you aren’t taking advantage of Big Data, and especially if you think Big Data can only be produced by organizations larger than 100 employees, then think again. In 2018, everyone, no matter how small, can utilize the most powerful Artificial Intelligence in the world. The tallest hurdle is you.