Business Technology

How SMEs can become a data-driven success story

4 min read

03 August 2016

Rick Jackson, the CMO of data analytics firm Qlik, talks about how small and medium sized business leaders can make better use of the data available to them.

According to the IDC, by 2020 there will be 44tn gigabytes of information out there; about ten times the amount of data there is today. Finding ways to use the avalanche of information available can seem intimidating to small businesses, especially to SME leaders already working round the clock just to keep a new business on track!

Data has always been at the heart of any successful business but, as we become ever more data-centric, it’s imperative for small businesses to use that data through powerful analytics to better understand, manage and grow their business. But how does the average business owner or user go about making the most of the wealth of data they have to hand?

Find the right solution

Analytics solutions aimed at big businesses can be expensive and time consuming but, as technology rapidly develops, software has become more lightweight, powerful and accessible.  Smaller and more agile businesses have a range of options available to them – from desktop software for business tasks, software as a service solutions, to free or even freemium tools.

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Ask and answer the right questions

It’s easy to drown in data. To be successful, businesses need to identify what they want to ask, and work out where that data sits. Trusted, affordable, ready-to-use data from external sources can add to this and provide more granular insights about customer behaviour, purchasing decisions and reaction to marketing campaigns. For a step deeper into the data waters, NoSQL and open source databases offer almost limitless answers to well-formed inquiries.

Use new insights to build vision

If the aftermath of the gold/blue/white/black dress taught us anything, it’s that the human mind is wired to process information visually.  As a result, visual analytics solutions tend to be more user-friendly and intuitive. There are several free options that can jumpstart business processes. Google Analytics can jumpstart online engagement by showing which interactions and when touchpoints resonate best with target audiences. Twitter Analytics can help drive engagement into action over social. 

Data-driven SMEs in action

Hyphen is a fast-growing UK SME which delivers performance marketing data intelligence and consultancy to global brand marketers. The data shows the marketers how they can optimise spend and activity across multiple devices and platforms. Hyphen clients, such as Hailo, who match taxis to passengers through their mobile phone application, rely on these insights in order to inform their digital marketing strategy and understand their performance across different geographies and devices.

Whereas previously obtaining this insight would have taken the company days, with a modern analytics solution in place, it only takes them minutes. Hyphen is then able to help clients increase traffic to their applications and lift their clients’ businesses to the stage where they are able to grow their user base organically. 

By analysing data in a user-friendly, self-service interface that requires minimal IT involvement, small business owners such as Hyphen (and, in turn, the range of businesses it works with) can work smarter, not harder to build better data-driven customer relationships and deliver more profits for their business.

Rick Jackson is CMO of Qlik.

Meanwhile, as the co-founder of business information and intelligence platform DueDil, Damian Kimmelman is well placed to observe which sectors of the market are most likely to experiment with new technology – and it’s medium-sized businesses leading the way.

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