Small to medium sized business owners now know about the value and importance of analyzing data, since it allows them to identify key insights and patterns about their business. The main goal for analyzing data is to find and address challenges, find opportunities and help the business save both money and time. A lot of small businesses don’t have the luxury hire data analytics scientists to make sense of the figures, but there are numerous other ways you can manage this data and make sense of it.
So in order to help small to medium sized businesses learn about the importance of data management, we have decided to share the many data management challenges they are bound to face, and the important tips for handling all of them.
1. Data Strategy: Do you have one?
The key to managing data is to form a data strategy, which will identify the basics of how a company will store, manage, handle, and collect content. This data strategy can obviously vary in depth and breadth, but it is a simple strategy that will explain the value of every component. It is important for SMBs to have a data strategy in place, since it will help them manage, collect, and analyze data better.
By implementing a data strategy, the business will be able to access member data, and then download reports, which will help them make sense of the data. It may seem like too much work for SMBs, but that is the only way, in which they will be able to improve their operations, and create engagement with customers on social media platforms.
2. Data collection: What and how?
Now coming up with a data strategy is fine in theory, but how do you actually go about implementing one? There are two important questions that you need to be asking yourself, which will drive your big data analytics forward. These questions are:
- What data do you want to collect?
- How will you collect that data?
You can collect data through different formats, whether it is in-person, digital, or in print form. This means that the data you share and collect needs to be done in the proper manner, especially when you’re dealing with personal and sensitive information.
For instance if you are collecting personal data on customers, make sure that the outlet for data collection is secure, and there are no security compromises. Credit card information is highly sensitive, and the main rule of thumb for collecting such information from clients is that, if you don’t need the information, don’t collect it. This is because mishandling that information can land the business in a whole world of trouble that it can easily avoid.
3. Data storage: Where?
Collecting data is the easy part, now comes the question of where you should be storing that data? There are quite a few options available for SMBs, but then again you need to find a reliable data storage provider that doesn’t have a bad reputation. You should ensure that any data storage service you use must be on a reliable platform, which is both scalable and expandable according to your business needs.
There are data storage spaces like Google Drive and Dropbox that provide free space, but up to a certain point, after that they will start charging. This can be useful for SMBs that don’t need to store a large amount of data, since they don’t have to switch their platforms when they grow. However, the main thing they should be looking at is security here, because whatever data storage platform you choose it needs to be highly secure.
4. Data Sharing: Who?
Now that you have solved the puzzle of how you should collect data and where you should store it, comes the hard part of how you use data, and in order to do that you will have to share it. Data sharing is also known as data integration, and it is necessary because you need to use the data for your own benefit. A lot of data storing platforms are on the cloud, which is something you can use to your advantage, since it allows you to access data from anywhere, and at anytime.
Technology has continued to improve the way SMBs do business, and with the rise of new platforms, data analytics has become easier, and data sharing more simple. There are numerous good platforms that help you import data into them in order to analyze data and crunch the numbers. You can easily export your customer data into a CRM or an email service provider, which will help you manage your database as well.
This is a huge advantage for businesses, since it helps them save time, by streamlining and automating workflows, and ensuring that data sharing is simple and secure.
5. Data use: When?
Now comes the last part of your data strategy, which is regarding the use of data, and understanding how and when you should be using it. In order to successfully implement any data strategy, you need to first understand the many implications that come with using your data, and more importantly, your permission for using that data in a manner that benefits you.
Customers aren’t thrilled when they receive emails regarding things or events they never signed up for, or when they are charged with services they never agreed to use. This is why SMBs must be extra careful regarding how they use the data collected, and ensure that they don’t end up violating any data usage policies, since it will only damage their reputation.
This is why SMBs need to have clear data usage policies posted on their websites, which should be available to everyone. It should contain the details of data usage of the business, and ask for permission from customers to use that data for future services. You should also consider making the following a part of your data strategy in order to be successful: