Big Anxiety Caused By Big Data
The conversation online drives a sense of urgency around big data management — and rightly so. The amount of information being generated online is enormous, and data sources extend well beyond online. Just reading about them can be overwhelming.
Take for example Kevin Kelleher's post on Inc.com. In it, Kelleher writes about the many sources small business could mine data from, and why:
Your company's databases can be cross-referenced with the expanding galaxy of information drawn not just from the likes of social networks, government databases, and usage patterns on mobile devices, but also from increasingly specialized information sources such as digitized transcripts of call-center interactions and sensors sending updates from various steps within a supply chain.”
Are you cross-referencing your client database with multiple specialized information sets? Have you explored Beacon Technology yet? No!?
You’re not alone. Slow your roll, rabbit or you’ll exhaust yourself before even starting the race.
The Data Behind the Curtain
The whole point of this data is to generate actionable (and ultimately real time) insight that powers your inventory, ideas and customer service. And yes, harnessing it in relevant ways will ultimately weigh heavily in your success (or failure) in your space.
So why shouldn’t “big data” figure prominently in small business conversations? It should. But, as mentioned above — it’s all about focus.
Get a Handle on Your DataSo how do we put this big data picture into focus? Or, as Andrew Blackman puts it,
"… be sure to consider exactly what your needs are. Just because big data is what everyone’s talking about, it doesn’t mean you should jump in right now and start gathering all the data you can.”
Here are some Data Ready Inventory questions to consider with your client insight team before drowning in the big data pool:
Data we have today
Data we would like to have
Turn Focus Into Action In spite of the endless scenarios that can result from how you answer the questions above, you should at this point feel comfortable moving your business forward on one of three tracks:
1. Get a handle on your current data. Nine times out of ten, you’ll find that you aren’t using your data appropriately — or at all. Sure, you probably have an email list and maybe even a snappy newsletter you push out, but are you filtering these folks by interest? Are you actually paying attention to what they click and sending targeted materials based on those actions?
Beyond email marketing — what are you doing? And is it effective? Or are you just collecting data for data’s sake?
2. Vet potential data sources and set a realistic budget. Depending on the data you seek, time and budget projections can vary wildly. From social listening and real-time sentiment monitoring services to software integrations that manage your content, ideas or leads, you’ll be looking at very different internal and financial commitments for each.
Vet multiple vendors (no matter how great that ONE place looks) and create a grid to compare options. Remember, you don’t know what you don’t know — and realizing (too late) that you’ve invested in an inferior product is a morale and credibility killer.
3. Add ONE new data source to your client insight capabilities. So you know what data you currently have and you’re managing it optimally, AND you’re also keenly aware of other potential data sources you could be leveraging. You’re a small business big data rock star! Don’t let this go to your head.
If you try to add too much at once, you’ll overwhelm your staff and yourself. Remember, the whole point of the data is to help you pull actionable insight that powers your inventory, ideas and customer service. Adding one new data source at a time helps set (and keep) a reasonable pace around expectations and budget.
And if this process is an exercise in frustration because you have NOTHING in place and no idea of where to start, here’s a tip for consumer-facing folks: mobile. Make mobile first on your list and study everything around it, from making sure your site is mobile responsive to capturing cell phone numbers and understanding SMS marketing.
B2B? You options are too vast to pick just one (sorry) — but I’m sure you can easily find a killer digital marketing strategist to guide your efforts!
This Post Originally Appeared on CMSWire