When business and city leaders gathered at the launch of Leeds Big Data Week many expressed the opinion that although they weren’t quite sure where small data ends and big data begins, their organisations were committed to driving value from the data that they held.
It is true that the amount of data we create is growing rapidly, but there are still many organisations collecting only relatively small amounts of data. Some of these businesses believe that because of this they cannot develop a big data strategy. However, a big data project does not have to involve vast amounts of data, or cost a small fortune – connecting various (smaller) data sets can give even more insights than analysing one vast data set – the real skill is knowing what to focus on and what to ignore, but having it all in one place is essential.
When those smaller company-owned data sets are combined with public and social data sets, great insights can be achieved that can take a small company forward. In addition, if a company wants to grow their small data sets to become big data sets they should start looking for new data creation opportunities.
Small data can easily become big data by cleverly combining various data sets with different data formats. For example if you combine location and weather data with your food retail sales data you can discover the impact of rain on your items sold and adjust your purchasing and stocking behavior accordingly. Combine your customer data with their online sentiment to surprise them with very personalised offers and create long-lasting relationships. Track your customer’s journey through your on-line shop and combine it with your sales data to see how you can adjust and improve the layout. Or combine online sales data with offline customer profiles to see how you can optimise your multi-channel approach for your smaller retail outlet.
It’s not just retail that can benefit by embracing these new approaches – finance, manufacturing, higher education, public services – the opportunities are endless and small data really can deliver big insights.
This was the start of a week’s worth of engaging events, each providing rich content and value across a huge range of disciplines. Lots of happy attendees went away with lots to think about and enthused about the as yet untapped value they have at their fingertips.