You may have noticed a lot of attention being directed towards big data recently. Rightfully so, but there is another story quietly gathering momentum in the shadow of big data. That story is the democratisation of data.
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Of particular interest for small business is how this newfound ability to easily access, collect and analyse data is creating new opportunities for everyone to gather information about markets and customers.
An emerging narrative, thanks to an explosion of online data services, is that market research is no longer limited to big business and big budgets. The emergence of affordable web-based data collection and analysis services has leveled the playing field for businesses of all sizes.
New technology is emerging
Marketers from businesses of all sizes are just a few clicks away from building their own online surveys using tools such as Survey Monkey and Survey Gizmo. They can then upload that data file into a tool like DataCracker to find hidden insights from their data.
All of this can be achieved without the pre-requisite of a background in statistics or data analysis. Advanced insights created from segmentation, predictive modeling and text analytics can be produced and shared in PDF or web-based reports with little effort and little cost.
The recent proliferation of smartphone ownership combined with consumers' growing willingness to share data online has also played its part in democratising data. Most businesses are now just an opt-in away from being able to start collecting meaningful data from their customers or potential customers.
Not so along ago market research was limited to companies who could afford to employ professional research services to run focus groups and execute surveys. They would then need that data crunched by experts familiar with overly complex statistical programs to create long-winded reports. Today you can collect that data yourself and create your own reports for less than $100 per project.
How does data help the business?
With so much information at our fingertips ignoring this data available to us is letting an opportunity for real insights into your business pass by. Creating a simple survey and using email to facilitate responses can produce valuable insights for small business. Testing new ideas or product variations. Collecting feedback on existing products and services. Segmenting different customers and prospects into lists based on tailored marketing messages. Using predictive modeling to create customer profiles. These are just a few of the examples of how survey data can begin to have an impact on your business.
Like many other industries that the Internet has disrupted market research is also not immune to change. The emergence of democratised data is a fun time for small business. There is now an opportunity to gather data in real-time and implement insights quickly. Not so long ago this type of research took either a lot of money or a lot of time. So whilst big data may continue to get the headlines small business should take notice of the democratisation of data that is taking right under our noses.
Entrepeneur Luke Ryan is the co-founder of Details by Sven.