8 Ways to Use Big Data to Benefit Your Online Business

Thanks to faster processing speeds, widespread WiFi and practically unlimited storage, most online businesses today have access to more data than ever.

This type of “Big Data” can benefit the efficiency and profitability of your online business … if you know what to do with it. But many business owners are intimidated by Big Data and afraid to embrace it as a way of improving the size and scope of their businesses.

If you find yourself being paralyzed by the vast amount of data at your disposal, try these eight helpful ways to break free.

Follow the Money — Base your questions on a “right now” business objective. Think in terms of what instant knowledge would make the biggest difference in moving your online business forward in the current moment. At least for now, don’t worry about the data and tools. Instead, focus only on which insights give you the most value for the business.

Don’t Worry about the Size of your Data Package – You can and should use data from various sources to get the best results.

The good news is that data is everywhere and a lot of it is even free. That means you have enough data available to you right now to use big data tools regardless of how much – or how little – of this data belongs to your company.

Analyze This – It should be obvious by now that big data is changing everything in every industry. It’s better to just get going now analyzing your own data rather than hiring experts. You already are familiar with your business and experienced in data analysis.

All you probably need is a little on the job training on how to use the best tools. If you hire experts, they may be skilled with the tools, but they could take months to learn your business.

Learn as You Go — Don’t wait until you master big data – There isn’t enough time for you to learn everything you need to know about big data before you use it. Instead, begin with smaller projects and learn as you go. If you do one project after another, you will move steadily ahead and be able to handle increasingly complex projects.

Don’t Worry about the Upfront Costs — It’s more costly not to use big data at all – Storage doesn’t cost anything and the cost of analytics is steadily dropping. Your business already is storing and using data already. In all likelihood, those costs are actually higher than the cost of other, newer big data alternatives.

Your focus shouldn’t be cost and Return on Investment. It should be gaining competitive advantages. What would be the cost to your business if you suddenly realize you can no longer compete?

Don’t Worry that You Won’t Be Able to Understand How to Use Big Data –Spoiler alert: Most people already use big data when the use websites like Google Earth, Yelp, Expedia, Kayak and so on. These apps provide results based on big data analytics on mobile devices and elsewhere, so most people already know how to use them.

So don’t worry about big data analytics being a totally foreign concept outside. You will be able to use them with no trouble at all.

Evolution before Revolution – To get better outputs, add more inputs to the algorithms you already use. To put it another way, before you join the big data revolution and start making sweeping changes in your business, improve the data analysis you are already doing. Evolve these into something bigger, better and stronger first.

Face the Music – Change, most of it big data-driven, is coming whether you like it or not. Your choice is clear: Embrace this change or get run over by it. In either case, you won’t be able to avoid it.

Keep in mind that this process is one part science, one part art, and one part sheer necessity. That’s because you have to develop every possible competitive edge in order to remain profitable. Data analysis isn’t about just churning data and serving up whatever you will one day find a way to use that analysis.

Data analysis must be purpose-driven. The purpose for your business depends on the questions you are asking of the data. If the questions are relevant to your business right now, then the answers will be useful right now.

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