Small Business Guide: Making Sense of Big Data

Have you ever thought about just how much data your business has or has access to? Well, if you haven’t, then you should as data is big business these days.

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Never before have we had the ability to capture and analyse so much data. But this of course can create some headaches so today we wanted to share some thoughts on how to effectively manage your data through your IT infrastructure.

In truth data has never been more valuable because of the level of detail we can gather. As a business the difference between understanding and not understanding this data can be the difference between success and failure.

In essence there are two steps here, one is the ability to mine and analyse data effectively and two is to make it easily accessible through good IT infrastructure.

You should start by making sure you have the right infrastructure in place. This is a combination of network solutions and software. After all you want your data to be accessible to everyone within your business. So most businesses these days are looking to the cloud to store and manage their files. This makes everything much more accessible and is relatively cheap these days.

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The next step is to look at specific pieces of software to help manage your data. Every business holds common types of data, for example customer contacts and sales figures. For customer contacts you should look at setting up a CRM system and for sales you could choose one of thousands of packages.

While each solution has its own advantages and disadvantages it is important that the different choices work together so that you can share data easily. This is where many businesses fall down, they make it difficult to connect the dots.

So once you have a solid infrastructure and made your software choices it’s time to start analysing your data. As a starting point you will want to eliminate any bad data within your systems. This can be slow and painful at times but will make the difference in making the right and wrong decisions. It also helps to give you a much more accurate view.

Once you have a clean data set you will want to start looking at data modelling.

That is, what information do you want to see and how? This requires a lot of skill, experience and patience and is a time you should consider hiring an expert. A consultant can you review your needs and produce the models you need. This then gives you the exact information you need. This is because often the packages you use aren’t specifically tailored to your exact needs.

The final step is to analyse the output of your data models. What does the data tell you and how should you proceed? This will of course be open to individual interpretation and again it could be worth hiring a consultant to confirm your thoughts and feelings.

Whatever setup you decide to go with its important to continually gather and mine your data. The more knowledge you have the better and it couldn’t be easier these days. It’s not something that is exclusively for the large corporations of this world.

The DNetWorks Team