WAUKESHA — Don’t let the name fool you, big data isn’t
only for the Kohl’s and GEs of the world, but can be
used by small businesses to improve sales and manipulate
outcomes, said Bill King, owner of King Innovative in
said he thinks about big data in terms of data gathered
from multiple sources and the analytics used to
really is more about how you bring that all together
into one place so you can manipulate it and output it in
a format that you can understand and can gain some
knowledge from what’s there,” King said.
Benefits of capitalizing on big data
Paul Decker, founder of Maverick Innovation Lab in
Delafield, said he talks about how small businesses can
benefit from understanding and using big data during the
marketing class he teaches at the Waukesha County
Technical College Small Business Center.
said an advantage of big data is it allows a business
owner to see a trend. For instance, data can be
collected on the home-buying process and broken down to
see where homes are being built, how they are being
built, what kind of furnaces are being installed and so
Decker said small business owners can use the data to
help get ahead of their competition.
example that TopLine Results Chief Information Officer
Dan Boehm provided was learning how clients discover a
business. Determining if more clients learned about a
business through a newspaper ad or the company’s website
can help the marketing dollars be used in the wisest
it’s the website, from there the business can get more
specific with the data and learn which pages draw the
most people, Boehm said.
Over time, the data process for a company becomes more
defined and marketing is more targeted, Boehm said.
Accessing useful data is fairly easy, Decker said.
Organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the
Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and
Forbes all collect data and analyze it.
King said the first step to analyzing and manipulating
data is to identify what data sources already exist in a
company, such as a website or production system. Then
identify what systems exist outside the organization,
such as social media and Google Ad Words.
“The next step is to understand what it is you want to
discover or learn. What is it you want to pay attention
to?” King said. “Once you define those then you have an
idea of what data sources to go to.”
Doreen Bridges, vice president of TopLine Results
Corporation in Pewaukee, said the data harvested can be
strategically used to make intelligent decisions.
Bridges said by collecting the data and analyzing it, a
company can use it to determine what their next product
should be and what customers are interested in a new
Optimally using data is essential for small businesses
to stay competitive, Bridges said, especially as buying
habits change quickly.
There are vendors, such as Microsoft and Amazon, that
provide affordable analytics services, she said.
amount of time it takes for a small business to gather
and analyze the data can vary significantly, Boehm said.
It may take more time to set up a database and then
manually enter information for businesses who haven’t
been compiling it before.
may be a year or so until small businesses gather enough
data to start making decisions,” he said. But Boehm said
the payoff can be huge.
“It’s not a one day you do it, the next day you have
(the results). It’s a journey like anything else,” King
said of using big data.
King said hiring an outsider to gather and analyze the
data can be beneficial in that the third party looks at
the data with a fresh set of eyes. Also, that person can
help the business owner learn what they don’t already
to use big data
Identify sources of data located within and outside the
Define what you want to learn or discover.
Collect data from multiple sources.
Use an analytics service provider of system to
understand the collected data.
Implement data to create next steps plan for a business.
Source: Bill King, owner of King Innovative in Waukesha,
and Doreen Bridges, vice president of TopLine Results
Corporation in Pewaukee