mBox Blog

Why Big Data is Not Only for Big Business

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Big data is not just any old data, but refers to huge datasets defined by the three V’s – volume (as in lots of it), velocity (speed) and variety, which includes both structured and unstructured types.

Structured data refers to traditional type data, such as that held in databases and defined by fields and tables. Unstructured data is that which is usually collected in a more organic way and includes data extracted from sensors, search queries, social media, email campaigns and other methods.

How is big data used?

Companies use big data to generate meaningful information in order to make informed marketing decisions. This includes data mining to turn raw data into information they can use, predictive data analysis to make probability forecasts, and data visualisation to create graphs and charts that show patterns of behaviour. As an example, an analysis of data can show historic and current market purchasing trends of a particular product in a specific demographic group, which can then be used to drive future marketing decisions.

While the word ‘big’ in big data could cause one to think that it is only useful for big corporations, the principles of big data analysis can be just as easily applied to SMEs. Even if an SME has little in the way of its own rich data, it can use various tools to access and research all kinds of data to provide market insights.

How smaller businesses can use big data

You don’t need to be a qualified data scientist to make use of big data. There are some excellent easy-to-use analysis tools around for SMEs to use. These include the following.

IBM Watson Analytics:

This program automates the process of predictive analysis and doesn’t require any special skills to use – in fact is has been designed for everyday business owners to utilise. It can be used for a wide variety of analyses including sales, finance, risk management and human resources to identify patterns and trends. 

Google Analytics:

Designed for tracking and analysing user behaviour on your website, such as bounce rates and how users move around the pages on your site.


This program can be used to extract and analyse data from credit card purchases in order to better-understand customer needs and behaviours.


Qualtrics can be useful for SMEs that lack data of their own as it provides access to surveys and data studies. It can be used to gain insights on customers, employees and even students in the case of academic institutions. Businesses can also create their own surveys if they wish.

Google Big Query:

With Big Query, you can simply move your data into program tables, and use the software to do the analysis work and provide you with insights on your data.

Social media:

A great deal of data can be collected from social media due to the fact that it tends to be so public. For example, you can view conversations on company Facebook pages to uncover trends and identify potential new sales opportunities, and also to discover what people like and don’t like.

Just as surveys carried out via email, feedback forms and online fax (by setting up fax to email) can provide you with insights on your customers, don’t overlook the value of big data for obtaining broad insights that can enable you to make better informed marketing decisions. 

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