From being a buzzword to becoming synonymous with sound business decisions, big data has come a long way.
However, investing in big data can be a huge challenge for startups and small businesses, considering its strong appetite for resources. Add integration costs to it, and you have a foolproof formula for drilling a hole through your budgetary allocations. Then there are the additional challenges of complying with almost-draconian regulatory challenges.
All said, data quality remains the biggest challenge of big data. Despite the availability of analytical tools, sifting through vast chunks of data to extract relevant and accurate pieces of information remains a demanding task, hence big data’s appetite for resources.
Small data to the rescue
Enter small data. Small data refers to data that is understandable by humans. Unlike big data, small data comprises of data sets that are easily accessible, limited in volume, informative and, more importantly, can be interpreted without using complex analytical tools. It typically deals with information that addresses a specific query or issue, delivering promptly actionable insights that can aid critical decisions. Meeting schedules, individual health records, weekly reports, and weather forecasts are some examples of small data.
What’s in it for startups?
For startups, efficiency and productivity are the most valuable aspects;optimal utilization of resources is crucial.As such, spending time and resources on integrating high-end analytics can be farfetching for a small business when it all boils down to identifying prospective customer needs – not sentiments, not trends, but needs.
Small data helps you do just that; it enables you to identify the areas of opportunity without you having to invest time and other resources in complex data collection tasks.
Let’s take a look at how you can leverage small data to up your startup’s ante.
- It’s all around
Social channels are replete with small data that can readily be collected to inform marketing and buyer decisions. All you have to do is analyze the collected data to extract actionable pieces of information.
For instance, if you’re planning to start a marketing campaign for a product launch, you can simply collect data metrics from your social media campaign regarding how users interact with products. Then you just analyze it to gain meaningful insights to target your campaign to the right audience, with the right messaging.
- It’s quick and cost-effective
You don’t need a team of highly skilled data analystsor complex business intelligence systems to handle small data. Data mining can be done with spreadsheets, saving both, time and costs. Moreover, small data can be collected from open source data collection tools, such as ODK Collect.
- It’s all about the end user
Small data is all about the end user, helping you focus on their needs without going into the murkier details of customer behavior across channels,so you can concentrate on creating customized user experiences through targeted campaigns.
Lego’s remarkable turnaround
Lego is a brand that needs no introduction. However, over the years, Lego faced quite a blow, thanks to the emergence of immersive digital games. Expert big data studies seemed to suggest that the future generations would eventually lose interest in Lego, owing to their lack of time and patience. This led the brand to move away from its core product, shifting their focus to theme parks, apparels, video games, TV programs, and books.
Nevertheless, Lego’s remarkable turnaround was made possible by small data when in early 2004, the brand’s marketing team paid a visit to the home of an 11-year old Lego fan in Germany. The boy, a passionate skateboarder, proudly held a pair of worn-out sneakers as his trophy.
It took no time for the team to realize that children are motivated to be popular among their peers by attaining mastery over their chosen skill, be it video games or skateboarding. It was this chance observation, and not the expensive big data studies, that fueled Lego’s turnaround. They refocused on their core product, this time making it more detailed and complex, to deliver a challenging yet immersive experience for its users.
As a result, Lego’s sales rose by 11 percent in 2014 to exceed $2 billion and trump Mattel as the world’s largest toy maker!
Big data, despite all its uses and benefits, misses the most important aspect of data harnessing: the opportunity lies in the details. And details are seldom overlooked with small data at your behest. Small data is all about your target audience, giving you actionable insights that you can take advantage of to accomplish incredible results. Add to it the immense cost and resource benefits you can enjoy, leveraging small data effectively can open a lot of avenues for your business to grow and prosper.