SMB’s or small to medium businesses are often reluctant to use data- let alone big data. To a small company big data can look very daunting; something that will complicate their operation, not simplify it. The stereotype is that big data is made for large corporations, those with so many customers they can’t keep track. This assumption is correct in that big data is an extremely helpful tool in understanding customers and adapting to meet their needs, but the assumption is that it is only for large companies.
Big data is simply a tool that helps businesses become more efficient. Many small companies believe they do not need data analytics because they have close relationships with their customers. The business understands its customers because they know one another, listen to the demand and ensure they can adequately supply. Having a computer in the mix would take away from this human relationship. To a certain extent I can see how this would be a legitimate concern- if you are known as the friendly business who keeps up with their customer relationships and you suddenly neglect your customers to study them on a computer all day, they may not be very happy. But this is not necessarily the case.
When businesses form good relationships with their customers they feel very successful, but what happens when that friendship gets in the way of your revenue? What if the customer uses your friendship to receive discounts or free items or services? What happens to your production rate when you get chatting with a customer and suddenly realize two hours have gone by?
These are all business stoppers that naturally happen when a business thinks they are simply maintaining their customer relationships. It is a human flaw that we cannot see these things happen because we are biased. But these are the types of issues that add up and eventually slow a small business down until they are in some serious trouble. Big data is objective. Data doesn’t care if you haven’t seen a customer in a month and you want to catch up, data will tell you straight up- you wasted an hour of work and these are the repercussions.
This is not to say that small businesses should shut their doors and become computer nerds, they should simply allow themselves to see the truth. Use big data as a tool not to understand your customers better, but to understand your business better. Let data give you the unbiased truth about your production rates and ROI so that your small business can not only be loved, but efficient.