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  • Writer's pictureLachlan Scroope

Small Business, Big Data

How do you know if your company is using its data correctly?

In the digital age, collecting data from your business is easier than ever. Your website, POS system, retail provider, and app never stop collecting data for you. The question for directors and managers is; are you being left behind?

Large businesses have long since seen data analytics as a source of advantage. They are using analytics to increase the efficiency of their business and target customers with newfound accuracy. Small businesses, however, have not adopted data analytics in the same enthusiastic way. Can we say that the new gateway to becoming a successful large business is now data analytics?

While massive corporations have been using data analytics for years to target consumers, manage supply chains, and increase productivity. Small businesses have been far slower at using the power of data analytics. In 2019, Score (a large US-based business mentoring organisation) surveyed small businesses to identify their thoughts on data analytics. 51% of the surveyed small businesses believe that analytics is critical for success. However, only 45% of small businesses surveyed used the analytics they collected.

So, where does the gap between want and use occur? The data analytics sector has more than doubled over the last five years. This incredible growth was sure to make a change in many businesses. While it has taken over how large companies conduct business, small organisations are still trying to catch up. Score identifies that managers in small companies point to time constraints as the number one factor as to why they aren’t developing their own analytics. Many managers are now seeing data analytics as a “make or break” for them. To fill this void, private firms have stepped up and begun adding analytics to their existing b2b services.

Where can we see this change? Many social media sites now break down your companies’ data for you. Luckily for managers, the push by social media companies have helped them down the analytics road for little investment. 71% of small businesses which utilise data analytics use it to bring in new customers. The next main use is for customer retention which only makes up 60% of business uses for analytics. It’s not hard to see why. New customers give managers direct and instant financial benefits for using this new technology. This makes focusing on new customers the obvious choice for the risk-averse. However, data analytics can be doing a lot more for them and, more importantly, for you.

As the drive for data analytics for managers has increased, the ability for managers to create their analytics has not kept up. There has been a rise in firms offering outsourced analytics for a fraction of the price of an in-house analyst. This surge in data as a service has created a climate of “haves” and “have nots”. Small companies that can use their data effectively can reach more potential customers and use their limited resources more efficiently. The question remains; which side is your business on?

Large companies have been long seeing the benefits of using analysts. Luckily, they have passed on some of these benefits to their clients. Instagram, for example, provides several different analytics to its business accounts. Using tiered benefits, Instagram provides more and more analytics depending on the business following. This works well in their favour. The analytics incentivise both continued use of their app and growing the businesses that advertise on their platform. Instagram has created a culture within its user base to value the analytics they provide.

Google has also made a push towards providing similar statistics to business accounts. Letting businesses analyse which searches they appear in and what type of searches their customers use. They have let businesses connect with their customers in new and improved ways! However, these tools have only scratched the surface of how small businesses can use analytics.

Third-party applications have brought an old solution to this new problem. By using economies of scale, the new applications can provide outsourced data analytics for small and medium-sized businesses. In Australia, this industry is dominated by few big firms. These tend to be POS system providers and payment handlers.

When it comes to direct marketing companies, Autop operates under the principle of automating analytics. Direct marketing companies have a large amount of data on the sales performance of their employees through KPI’s. Autop automates the recording of KPI’s and importantly visualises the information in a way that’s easy for MD’s, team leaders, and sales reps to understand their data at a glance!

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