One of the major advantages of running a business in a tech-savvy age is the access to unending data. But what is big data, which types should you be looking at and how can you use it to your advantage?
What is big data?
Big data is a relatively new term that is continuously evolving. It refers to large volumes of structured, semi-structured and unstructured data that can be used to reveal vital information for advanced analytics such as machine learning.
Big data can be collected from all sorts of sources such as customer databases, medical records, transactions, internet clickstream logs, mobile apps and social networks to name but a few. Particularly now that most of our daily activities are performed online, companies have access to more and more data about customers’ likes, dislikes, purchasing behaviours, browsing habits and more. All of this can be used to your advantage.
What kind of data should you be analysing?
Any kind of data is valuable for business as it enables companies to understand their customers, research their competition and evaluate their own performance. But for small businesses, unstructured data can be particularly useful.
Unstructured data refers to any kind of data that doesn’t necessarily fit into traditional mainstream databases. Whereas traditional structured data such as transactional figures conform to a rigid format which can be analysed with traditional formulas, unstructured data comes in all sorts of formats.
Unstructured data can come in many forms including text, video, audio and image files. Information can be sourced from various files such as emails, powerpoint presentations, word documents, social media posts, call centre transcripts and much more. Most recently, machine data has become increasingly accessible to small businesses, enabling companies to access information from website servers, mobile apps and more. Information can also be captured and analysed from manufacturing equipment or indeed any devices connected to the IoT (internet of things).
How can you use unstructured data to your advantage?
Evidently, unstructured data is widely available and can be sourced from pretty much any aspect of your business. But how can you use that data to improve your business and increase revenue?
Unstructured data is fantastic for customer analytics. By collecting and analysing this kind of data you can discover both positive and negative feedback about your company, services and products. This allows you to learn more about your brand’s perception among customers. You can then use this information to improve your company image as well as streamline your customer services.
You can also use this data to inform your marketing strategies. By analysing your customers’ browsing habits, likes, dislikes and more with unstructured data uncovered from social networks and other sources, you can ensure that you are targeting the right audience in the right places and at the right times. By targeting people based on thorough research, you can ensure that your marketing budget is put to the best use.
This kind of data can also be used to analyse your competitors’ marketing efforts. By researching your competitors’ strategies, campaigns and customer satisfaction, you can analyse their strengths and weaknesses and learn from both their failures and successes.
Using unstructured data, you can also uncover your company’s weaknesses. Whether it’s customer perception or weak servers and technical issues, analysing the right data can help you identify and rectify your flaws. You can even carry out predictive maintenance using unstructured data. For example, many manufacturing companies are now using sensor data to detect equipment failures before they happen, allowing them to address the situation and avoid delays to production and loss of revenue.
Keeping your customers happy and ensuring that your business is performing optimally are both great. But unstructured data can also help you remain ahead of your competitors by enabling you to carry out market research on a huge scale. With the right data, you can analyse pricing information across currencies, languages, global regions, and retail verticals so that you can remain at the top of your game in your industry. Using Pricing Intelligence tool where you can collect accurate price of product across any numbers of competitors.
How can I collect unstructured data for my business?
When dealing with big data, it’s best to seek outside assistance. With so much data available, it can be hard to know where to start. So rather than attempting to figure it out for yourself, enlist a team of professionals who collect, collate and analyse this kind of data day in day out.
When selecting a data analyst or company to assist you, make sure that they have experience within your particular industry. Big data is a huge field and can be used in vastly different ways. To make sure that you are getting the most out of your data (and budget), you need to make sure that your analysts understand your business, your industry and know exactly how to make the data and information work to your advantage.