When we think of big data, we usually don’t think of small business. Big data is typically seen as something reserved for larger entities with the means and resources to data mine, analyze the information and integrate findings into a business flow. Perhaps that was the case when big data first came onto the scene, and it certainly read that way when Foreign Affairs featured it on their cover in 2013 – but that isn’t the case any longer.

In a Forbes article titled “What Can Big Data Do for a Small Business,” by Tim Devaney and Tom Stein takes a broad look at the benefits of big data. Notably, the piece draws attention to Google Analytics and AdWords – big data tools already in the hands of small businesses. Devaney and Stein quote Steve King, partner at Emergent Research and coauthor of a report titled “The New Data Democracy: How Big Data Will Revolutionize the Lives of Small Businesses and Consumers.” King believes that “small businesses shouldn’t be scared off by big data.” He offers the example of The Spillers Group, a company that used Roambi to synthesize data across their three restaurants. The move helped them bring data together and see it in a new way. The result was finding a new way to cut cost through minor changes they wouldn’t have recognized without the aide of a big data tool.

Big data is just as much about business management as it is about business marketing. Both require a metrics-based strategy. In addition to Roambi, small businesses can rely on the following links for their intelligence gathering needs:

  • Tranzlogic – Business owners need big data basics like tracking sales, evaluating location-based performance simply and discreetly through each individual transaction. By using credit card swipes to data mine, Tranzlogic offers an online portal for tracking sales, evaluating location-based performance, and determining where and when promos are most successful.
  • Canopy Labs – Customer behavior and sales trends are a lot easier to assess when you’ve got an intelligent system that can loop into your existing email marketing server or Salesforce CRM. The data also projects forecast based on existing behavior.
  • InsightSquared – Traditional big data assessments help forecast consumer behavior so vendors can better strategize marketing efforts. Tracking sales and integrating data with your existing CRM is also a big-data possibility.
  • Punchh – A loyalty app that rewards repeat visits and referrals while giving small business owners insight into those traffic patterns and purchases.
  • Qualtrics – The only thing better than high traffic patterns is high traffic patterns that also offer customer feedback. Qualtrics assists businesses in setting up a feedback request pop-up at the end of website visit.
  • Radius – Best for companies with a high volume of sales leads. Radius helps target those leads and automate customer information so your sales people aren’t getting lost in outdated and misleading information.
  • Riviera Partners – Recruiters can use big-data tools to sort through candidate archives and cross-reference those with Linked-In profiles, keywords, and job requirements. Riviera Partners focus on catering to tech industries, start-ups, and companies courted by venture capitalists – but that doesn’t mean the same principles can’t be applied to your search.

How you use big data is ultimately up to you. Know that the reach it offers isn’t out of your reach anymore in light of all the software advances made in such a short time. Given that marketing campaigns are most successful when based on metrics, it’s just smart business to include the relevant tools you need to assess the data. Of course, 30 years ago you wouldn’t need any of this; but thirty years ago you also didn’t have digital platforms and crazed competition vying for consumer attention. Given how quickly big data has projected into business rhetoric in just the last year, I predict that by the end of next year it will be a common concept and must-have inclusion into your business processes.