Jim McCann| Cloudtweaks
Putting the power of big data into the hands of small businesses can help them to achieve improved results in sales and marketing and in providing the products their customers want most.
A number of factors have come together to allow the democratization of big data analytics and to provide a practical option for small business owners and administrators in managing their enterprises more effectively.
Big Data and the Corporate Cloud
One of the most important elements in the new big data paradigm is the increasing availability of cloud storage and applications for smaller business operations. Cloud computing systems allow remote storage of and access to corporate data through secure login technologies. In general practice, the cloud allows staff members to perform work and access data at any time and from anywhere with a secured Internet connection. This can boost productivity and increase profits in companies of all sizes. In the context of big data, however, cloud systems can allow truly scalable data storage for large projects and everyday needs. This can make big data analytics an affordable possibility for many smaller firms without the resources to maintain on-site server space for these analysis tasks.
Advanced Services by Hosting Providers
As big data becomes a greater factor in business planning and operational decision-making, hosting service providers are offering a greater range of services to the small business community. These newer services include the following:
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) allows companies to outsource maintenance, upgrades and hosting of necessary software applications on a case-by-case basis.
- Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) arrangements are more comprehensive and include networking services, server space and online storage capacity. These services are typically scalable and may be configured to suit the specific needs and budgetary constraints of the corporate customer.
- Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) allows business clients to outsource all elements of their IT structure to the service provider. Staff members and customers can access these resources through secure online login technologies; all maintenance, hardware, software and security measures, however, are managed at the service provider level. Customers typically pay for IaaS arrangements on a scalable usage model rather than on a flat per-month fee basis.
The increased availability of these cloud services has made it possible for small businesses to derive their own analytics from big data and has provided added accessibility for companies of all sizes.
Implementing Big Data in Small Business
In the business arena, big data comprises a wide range of different data sets. For example, a small business that does both online and in-store sales may have large sets of data for foot traffic and sales in their brick-and-mortar locations and equally large data sets regarding virtual traffic and sales online. Finding points of commonality between these data sets through the use of big data analytics can provide insights into customer buying patterns and can offer added targeting power for marketing and promotional strategies. Because of the inductive nature of big data calculations, companies can often create predictive models that allow even more fine-tuning of advertising messages and media choices in the competitive marketplace.
The Three Vs of Big Data
According to analyst Doug Laney of Gartner, big data analytics implementations are defined by three elements:
• Volume refers to the sheer amount of data to be processed and mined for useful information
• Velocity is the speed at which data analytics can be performed for business needs
• Variety in big data has to do with the types of data that can be cross-checked and compiled into useful reports for use in the small business world
These three Vs are critical to understanding big data and making it more widely available for small to medium-sized businesses in today’s competitive marketplace.
Cloud computing services play a critical role in modern big data analytics. Companies that specialize in big data analytics consulting can be valuable allies in the effort to make more productive use of data sets and to optimize business processes.