By Rohan Day, Partner Armstrong Watson Skipton

MOST people will probably have heard of the term “Big Data”, but is it widely understood and how important is it to your average small business?

It’s easy to see the connection of Big Data to large businesses and how, for example, Netflix may use the data it collects from you to suggest the next movie you might want to watch. However, there are still plenty of things a small business can do to take advantage of the data gathered too.

Whilst smaller businesses are less likely to have a wealth of data analysts to help learn more about customer behaviours or trends in buying patterns, the data you do collect can be used to help improve customer experience, grow your business and increase profitability.

Data can come from numerous sources and used to great advantage, however it is very important to ensure that your collection and usage of data complies with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). Clearly when you see the likes of British Airways being fined an eye watering £183m for data breaches, how that data is handled needs careful consideration.

One good place to start which is often overlooked is the data from your calls. There are plenty of web based VOIP systems which can be used to analyse geographic, demographic and behavioural data from callers. For example, it may uncover a new common problem which then allows you to address the issue in good time and improve service.

There is a vast array of business intelligence software out there, often paid for, but there are some free ones too. For example Google Analytics is free and can be used to analyse data from your website to see where the traffic is coming from, how long visitors stay on there and what they look at most. This allows you to help improve on what’s not working and build on what is to increase the hits and sales/leads which come from there.

There are also lots of add-ons for cloud based accounting software that can help you analyse your financial data, create reports and dashboards which help you track and analyse your business performance and even link with a CRM system. A good example of this is having a product like Zoho working alongside Xero and a CRM system.

If you’d like to learn more about how data collection can be used to enhance your business, please get in touch with our team: telephone 01756 620000 or email