Small Data has Big Potential

Recent industry surveys and consumer reports have indicated that companies around the world need to consider getting control of the information in their possession and turning meaningless resources into critical insight. This imperative has encouraged business decision-makers to embrace Big Data initiatives, many of which promise to reduce costs and provide new perspectives into the customer landscape. Although these endeavors will likely continue gaining momentum in 2014, organizations must take a look at the bigger picture to truly be successful.

A recent ZDNet report highlighted how Big Data initiatives are often overkill because the projects require firms to collect, store, and analyze more information than might be necessary. Having a broad range of data assets to choose from will likely provide enterprises with more opportunities to convert those resources into useful information; however, the mere presence of such large volumes of data can introduce potential performance and security issues.

The fact of the matter is that Big Data is difficult to approach, ZDNet noted. Although cloud computing and other advanced technologies can give organizations the ability to scale their infrastructure as needed to meet the demands of the growing information in their possession, most sales, marketing, and customer service departments don't need such vast quantities of data to improve operations. Small Data, on the other hand, can connect employees with critical insight that is packaged in a way that makes it highly accessible and easy to understand.

ZDNet noted that Small Data initiatives are poised to pick up speed in 2014 and may even emerge as a mainstream movement during the course of the year. There are several driving factors behind this growing phenomenon.

Small Data is prevalent
The emerging social media and mobile landscapes are providing organizations of all sizes with easy access to an abundance of Small Data. As the use of these technologies accelerates in the coming years, businesses need to consider how they can aggregate and use this information to improve operations. ZDNet highlighted how people are constantly creating Small Data that can easily be collected by forward-thinking organizations, allowing those enterprises to gain greater insight into current and prospective objectives.

A separate Open Knowledge Foundation report highlighted how Small Data can be extremely helpful for organizations that don't necessarily have the financial or operational resources to back significant Big Data initiatives. However, that doesn't mean smaller businesses can't collect and analyze information on customers and employees, but only that they may need to do so differently from larger enterprises.

By adopting Small Data projects, companies can piece together critical processes instead of launching a single, all-encompassing strategy that may not be able to hit more detailed objectives.

Simple is better
In many cases, businesses will need to hire data scientists and other professionals to properly tackle Big Data initiatives. Small Data, on the other hand, can often be collected and used by non-technical employees, ZDNet noted. This finding means that more organizations will be able to adopt information management strategies without worrying about being overwhelmed or feeling like a fish out of water.

In the coming years, information will become increasingly important. Regardless of whether firms adopt Small or Big Data initiatives, decision-makers need to map out a strategy and find out how they can properly collect, analyze, and use information to improve operations and gain a competitive advantage. By taking the time to understand their firm's critical long-term objectives, executives may be able to build a customized blueprint that optimizes performance and makes hitting those goals less challenging.

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