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#FirstinHR: Small Business, Big Data

In Human Resources — by Recruiterbox

Even the smallest of small business should have heard of big data by now. Big data allows businesses of any size to run analytics and crunch an incredible amount of numbers related to all aspects of a business, revealing new insights about your business that could help steer it into clearer waters. While the math behind will leave most laymen confused, the result of big data is that it contains the information businesses need to make better decisions.

For example, 90% of businesses cite a better risk assessment process as one of the biggest benefits of using big data. Additionally, 89% of businesses found misconduct they couldn’t have found before, which is all the more important in small businesses, where every employee counts. Small businesses may not benefit from some of the higher-reaching capabilities of big data, but there’s no reason to ignore it entirely, especially if you’re looking to make better hires or run a tighter ship. Big data can impact small companies by way of compensation information, industry benchmarking or competitive advantage.

Why Big Data Matters

The biggest reason all kinds of businesses talk about big data so much is that using analytics lets us see things humans wouldn’t be able to put together themselves and from that data soup, we can see trends, insights and more. Leaders are 166% more likely to make decisions based on data , so the connection between having information and making better choices is clear. This data is separated into structured data (sets of numbers easily manageable in spreadsheets and the like) and unstructured data (which is harder to turn into numbers and includes videos, emails and other things you can’t put on a spreadsheet). What big data does is bring all of these things together and distill them into information you can use.

And with 90% of the world’s data having been generated the last two years, the deluge of data is a bigger problem than ever. It’s affecting bigger companies, 70% of which are concerned about the amount of data they can handle, and 25% are amping up their budgets to handle it as best they can. Smaller businesses, who have fewer people to handle even more relevant data, stand to benefit all the more from simplifying a complicated minefield of numbers.

As the technology behind big data begins to ramp up, businesses have begun to take notice. From 2010 to 2014, adoption of business intelligence software (the kind that does the work of big data) increased from 1.7 to 9.2%. It’s still marginal when it comes to adoption, but as time goes on, big data is poised to become an important aspect of any business that needs information to do work, or simply wants to look at how actively people use their app, or how their product is doing in the market relative to the competition.

How Small Businesses Can Use Big Data

Still don’t think you should add big data to your toolkit? You’re not alone; small businesses cite not having the time to implement it properly (42%) and thinking it’s too expensive (41%) as the main reasons they don’t adopt big data . In fact, 35% of them haven’t even considered it. As a small business, having information about your market, or knowing where and when to release your product can make all the difference. Rick Delgado ( @ricknotdelgado ), writer at TechCocktail, lays out how small business can better market their product using big data.

“Big data is at its best when tracking customers and potential customers. Generally, this is a very difficult area for small businesses… Big data helps companies gauge how much they should be investing in marketing and where that marketing money should be spent. Companies can be much more precise in who they target and what type of advertising they use. It’s extremely effective at monitoring social media, too, which is a great, cheap way to market.”

And while many startups begin with a dream in their pocket and a twinkle in their eye, they have all have to face business realities at some point or another. The two biggest reasons startups fail is either because there’s no need for their product in the market in the first place (42%) or because they run out of cash (29%). These are the exact things big data can help startups avoid, by providing them data they can use to figure out the best pivot for their product and manage their revenue more intelligently.

As big data becomes more central to business , no doubt some of the conversations surrounding it are going to get a little confusing. Regardless, if you’re a small business looking to make smarter decisions about the market you’re looking to enter, you’d be remiss not to explore the applications of big data, even if your business is small.

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