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Big Data, Small Businesses

Computer with data on the screen

Saturday 3 December 2016 is Small Business Saturday in the UK. The national campaign is growing every year and in 2015 saw £623m spent at small businesses across the country. In the lead up to this year’s event we’re blogging about other ways that small businesses can receive support and ensure their own success. In the blog post below our Outreach and Engagement Coordinator Alexandra Beaumont writes about how Big Data can support small business, not just large ones.

Big Data are commonly underused in businesses, often due to the lack of internal skills required to manipulate the data acquired in the most beneficial way. This is a shame, as businesses can significantly benefit from using Big Data correctly.

The statistics outlined in icrunchdata’s blog, “Big Data Never Sleeps” demonstrate the wide use of Big Data in businesses, but it is often wrongly assumed that only large corporations can benefit from Big Data.

Big Data can be used by organisations to gain a competitive edge in their industry, and so can and should be used by small to medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as larger companies to become market leaders.

Computer with data on the screen

Since working with SMEs in my current role I have been surprised at the amount of businesses that have huge amounts of data available to them, but are not tapping into this crucial information which is so readily accessible. One example are data collected through social media. Customers and consumers are regularly “sharing” their experiences of products and services online, and businesses can easily access this information, but do not have the skills to manipulate that data to identify patterns and trends which could enable them to boost sales and increase customer numbers.

Here at the Business and Local Government Data Research Centre we offer free webinars and training to businesses and the public to learn these skills. One webinar that we have lined up for the general public will take place on Friday 2 December, 1pm – 2pm. Delivered by Professor Marianna Marra, this webinar will give attendees and viewers an introduction to Social Network Analysis (SNA). SNA is the process of investigating and measuring social relationships between people, organisations and technology. It is very useful in mapping different kinds of relationships and detects data patterns in economic and knowledge networks. Businesses can use SNA for customer interaction and marketing purposes. You can register for this webinar now.

Mobile data are also invaluable and can assist businesses in mapping demand for services. This can be particularly useful for businesses in the travel and tourism and logistics industries, as the identification of common routes used by the public can help identify a need for services. These data are not just available to larger businesses, often smaller companies will collect these data without realising it or could benefit from datasets that our centre has available.

Do not shy away from making the most of your data, contact us to find out how we can help you enhance your organisation.

Blog post by Alexandra Beaumont (Outreach and Engagement Coordinator at the Business and Local Government Data Research Centre), please email us if you’d like to know more about how you could work with the Centre or participate in training courses and other events.

Published 30 November 2016