The Value of Small: Why Small Data Matters Just As Much As Big Data

In a world of big data, it’s easy to forget about small data: those lower volume, more focused data sets. Using these smaller data sets can be just as relevant for your business as the insights gleaned from analyzing big data. For many of your business’s day-to-day challenges, the insights gleaned from small data—or specifically the right data—are enough.

After all, it’s not about how much data your business has; it’s about what you’re doing with it. And no data set should be left unturned because when relevant information is available to employees, easy to understand, and ready to apply to their everyday jobs, you’ve got the data trifecta you need. Here are three ways small data can help your business strengthen your company’s performance.

Keep your focus

Using small data can help you concentrate on specific areas of your business versus the big picture. Consider zeroing in on information that can improve customer service. Maybe you have unused data in a point-of-sale system, customer contact list, or your social media stream. Your business can keep track of all these customer interactions with a CRM system, if it’s not already. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to gain insights on your customers. Any employee with basic data skills can analyze this information.

it’s not about how much data your business has; it’s about what you’re doing with it.

Tracking customer data can help you understand customer’s ever-changing needs better. You’ll be able to detect patterns in customer, product, and social data—and you don’t need a supercomputer to do it. Approaching information in chunks can help you analyze individual customer actions and allow you to customize your approach to segments of customers, rather than relying on instinct.

Run experiments faster

As you do find patterns in data, you can more quickly test demand for new products, develop promotional offers, or identify potential new customers. Running focused tests can help you get feedback fast and respond to it in real time. And if something you try fails, learn from it and either iterate on your first trial or pivot to the next idea. As the saying goes—fail fast, learn faster.

Trying something new will only add to your company’s data and knowledge about its customers. And having specific insights into your audience is growing ever more important. It allows you to send highly targeted ads and relevant offers to your customers. Customizing is critical and market segmentation, versus mass marketing, is what your customers expect.

Get more out of free data

Your business has access to a wealth of free data that’s available on the Internet, including government and federal data. Everything from weather to property registrations is at your fingertips. Social channels have tons of data ready to get collected and guide your marketing decisions.

Doing a better job of collecting the insights and content at your fingertips can help you run timely promotions or tailor your messaging. For example, if a local sports team makes an unexpected victory, understanding what might motivate the team’s supporters (from words to images and the offer itself) can help you craft the right message for the right promotion. Finding meaning (or finding information you can safely ignore) in free data can help you deliver the right information to your employees so they can make real-time adjustments on their work.

As with big data, small data requires your business to remain proactive. If business is settling into a rhythm, it’s not the time to sit back and relax. Marketing trends and consumer preferences are constantly shifting. And while honing in on small data sets may mean more work, it also means your business will keep moving forward.