It wasn’t that long ago that businesses faced a scarcity of information regarding their customers and the market in which they operated. Business analytics once involved plenty of guess work — but those days are over. Now, business owners have the opposite problem: They’re blessed with so much information, so much raw data, that an entire field, data science, has sprung up to help them isolate the most relevant information and make sense of it.
Today’s business owners can harness data to boost revenue, stay ahead of competitors, improve the customer experience and strengthen their organization — if they know how. Data science isn’t just a matter of knowing how to use a few data visualization tools; you need to be an actual scientist. But gaining data science skills is worth it because of the value they can create for your business.
What Data Science Can Do for Your Business
Big Data isn’t just for big companies anymore. Thanks to recent advancements in data analysis tools, small and medium-sized enterprises can jump on the data train and take advantage of all data science has to offer in terms of growing a business.
Data science can do a lot to keep your business competitive and thriving. It can help you spot market trends, enabling you to develop new products in time to stay ahead of competitors. You’ll make better business decisions because you’ll be better-equipped to monitor, measure and understand the responses of your customers to new products and services and to old ones, as well, not to mention products you might be considering for the future.
You’ll be able to analyze customer preferences and behavior patterns using actual data, not guesses, hunches or gut feelings. This will allow you to tweak your product line to match market trends as well as the way your customers really use your products. Perhaps more importantly, you’ll be able to do so while wasting less money on failed products and services or, for that matter, on initiatives that your employees hate — thus reducing turnover. That means the money you reinvest in your business will really count, and your business will grow faster because of it.
Harnessing the Power of Big Data for Your Business
Isolating your target market, testing new products, meeting customer demand, keeping your employees happy, perhaps even streamlining the hiring process — Big Data can help your business do all of these. But as a small business owner, you probably don’t have the budget to hire a full-time data scientist. Never fear; that doesn’t mean you can’t put Big Data to work for your business.
Many small business owners are harnessing the power of data science by learning the ropes themselves. In order to use data science effectively, you need to understand the scientific method and have a solid foundation of knowledge in statistics, as well as some experience with data science tools like R, Python, SQL and Hadoop. The best way to build this foundational knowledge is through higher education, but as a small business owner, going back to school the traditional way may not be an option. However, you could earn a master’s in business analytics online, taking classes in your spare time.
Don’t have the time or money to pursue a master’s degree? Aren’t sure if you need one? You could also cobble together some knowledge of data science with a combination of university courses from providers like edX or Coursera. While these courses are free, you could end up struggling to put together a complete curriculum that covers foundational knowledge and gives you the bedrock scientific skills you need, as well as bringing you up to a threshold of competence with the data science tools you’ll need to use. Besides, developing competence in a single data analysis tool or language, and learning its practical applications, can be a daunting prospect for a solo beginner, even a tech-savvy one; consider that you might need to learn multiple tools, and you can easily find yourself giving up without the structure and accountability of a formal academic program.
Data analytics can help your business monitor market trends, stay abreast of consumer preferences, and grow exponentially — if you understand it. Take the time to educate yourself in data science, and reap the business rewards.