To the individual user, Big Data might simply mean a new 3-terabyte hard drive, which can be acquired for a hundred bucks or so. But real Big Data projects require clusters of servers, vast amounts of storage, and specialized software to analyze, say, every change made to Facebook for a week.
If a setup of that magnitude sounds out of reach for most small businesses, fear not. Big Data analytics are available from third parties who leverage the cloud and their data scientists to gather, store and process petabytes of data.
Big Data for Small Businesses
While traditional Big Data solutions cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, new Big Data service bureaus (like many other cloud-based applications) can provide useful information for a few dollars per user per month.
Sumall offers free analysis of your total social media footprint, including email, Google analytics, Twitter and so on. You give them access to all your social media services, and they pull together more information than you ever could mine by yourself. Dane Atkinson, Sumall’s CEO, wants to help people working in businesses of all sizes live a “data-informed life.” Give Sumall access to PayPal, and it parses every transaction you’ve had with them, a deeper dive than the 90 days’ worth of reports PayPal provides. Cross-reference company tweets, Google+ announcements, Bing ads, and bitly links to see if your store sales have increased, and by how much. Try it for free.
If your company can’t afford expensive business intelligence software, Roambi Analytics can be your mobile BI solution provider. The service focuses on delivering data visualization reports to mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads. Companies upload data, then configure updates to their cloud service portal, and get back visualized information that can be used immediately.
A restaurant business with three locations gave Roambi its employee scheduling spreadsheets and access to its payroll service, according to a report from ZDNet. After two weeks, the company figured out how to cut its costs by 10 percent.
While the virtual world is easy to track, thanks to analytics software, it’s much harder to get such precise data on customer activity in the physical world.