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‘Big Data’ Isn’t Just for ‘Big’ Businesses

Althea Chang
Big Data Download
‘Big Data’ Isn’t Just for ‘Big’ Businesses

Small businesses employ half of all working Americans. And while many have limited budgets, there are affordable ways to use big data analytics to boost profitability, according to one government agency.

On the marketing front, by tracking keywords used on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, small businesses can find untapped markets and get to know potential customers, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, which is wrapping up National Small Business Week on Friday.

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Radio frequency tagging has helped companies track products through their supply chains to ensure on-time arrival and even monitor temperature conditions, leading to more efficient shipping, less waste and ultimately greater profitability, according to the SBA.

Of the 28 million small businesses in the country, only 6 million have employees, according to the government agency. And small businesses have been seeing big data analytics as too expensive, too time consuming and too difficult to use, according to a survey by Intuit, a company that makes budgeting tools.

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Of 500 small businesses surveyed by Intuit, 15 percent of those companies said using big data was too costly, 14 percent said they don't have enough time to use it and 10 percent said they don't understand what big data is. Some also said that using big data would be too difficult, according to the Intuit survey.

"One of the early providers of big data to small businesses was Google, whose Adwords, Adsense and Analytics products give small businesses rich insight into their online presence," said Karen Mills, SBA administrator. But new small businesses, and even the SBA itself, offer free or inexpensive tools to help lean companies wrangle data in a way that could boost their profitability, according to the SBA.

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