Big Data: what can it do for your business?

While your business might not be actively using Big Data, that doesn’t mean you don’t have the means to harness its potential. In this article, we run through the ‘need to knows’ on one of the most important business trends in recent years, and ask how you could be using data to your advantage.

What is Big Data?

Big Data refers to the capture, ‘harvesting’ and analysis of large data sets which are typically so big that they need to be processed using advanced analytics software. An increasing number of businesses are making more use of the data which they can gather in their everyday business activities to provide tangible insights which can go towards making enhancements in areas such as operations, sales and marketing. Big Data is increasingly not confined to large corporates, as the growing prevalence of analytics software means that Big Data strategies are easier for SMEs to pursue.

Utilise what you’ve got

So what kind of data patterns can be analysed in a big data strategy? In today’s digital era, there are no shortage of data types which could potentially provide valuable business insights to all manner of companies. This data can range from buying patterns, to customer behaviour (both on and offline), and data broken down by geographical location and time (from ‘to the second’ to seasonal).

In terms of the characteristics of the data itself – this is typically classified into the three categories of ‘Structured’, ‘Unstructured’ and ‘Semi-structured’ according to the level of order the data is found in when it comes to be analysed. Structured data will already be in a readable database form, while unstructured data can include information in a raw and disorderly form.

Calculating your KPIs

Key Performance Indicators (KPI) have become a staple of the business world, allowing firms to set targets, and then measure their success against the achievement of those targets. It could be leads, sales, clicks or coverage; KPIs come in a number of different forms but one thing most of them have in common is that they involve some sort of data. That’s where Big Data comes in, giving us more ways of collating information which can help to measure and report KPIs, and in turn, increasing the number of possible KPIs which can be set. It all adds up to more trackable business activities which can allow companies to keep a closer eye on their current performance, and devise better informed future strategies based on their level of success.

Giving you the edge

Like all good business ideas, the effective use of Big Data comes back to making a positive impact on the bottom line. There are many different ways in which this can be done once data has been collated, harvested and analysed. There could be operational insights within the data which allow companies to tighten up supply chains and economise their business processes, allowing them to reduce their overheads significantly. And then there is the opportunity to examine all aspects of customer buying patterns and preferences, giving companies the means to target their future marketing campaigns on an individualised basis. By seeing what customers are buying and searching for, organisations can give themselves a better chance of influencing future purchasing decisions.

Make your data work for you

You might be surprised at just how important the ability to obtain data quickly and consistently across your business can be. At Matter of Software, we develop bespoke business intelligence solutions by integrating existing systems into a data warehouse for enhanced reporting and Big Data analytics. To discover more about what Big Data can do for your business, contact us today.