Create The Next Big Thing Through Big Data

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Mike Weston, CEO of data science consultancy Profusion, explains how startups can use big data to help expand their product offering.

As a startup you may be forgiven for thinking that big data has nothing to do with you. After all, you’re not (yet) the size of Facebook or Amazon.

However, at some point in your company’s lifetime, you will have to change or expand your product offering and this process can be made a lot more efficient when you make use of all data sources out there.

Why Big Data For Your Company?

Data science techniques can adapt to every size of company and any amount of data. This enables your business to study many disparate data sets, including marketing, social media and transactional data, to predict demand and need for your current and proposed products.

Social media has become an essential tool for every startup to get their name out there, but it shouldn’t just be seen as a way to market yourselves. There are ways to monitor what people are saying via their social media, blogs, forums and comments sections and determine their sentiment.

Likewise, global trends can help inform your product and service offering. Tracking what the media say on a certain subject can give you a level of insights into what drives, attracts and concerns the mainstream public.

An established startup can also look at the buying patterns of its customers. Knowing how consumers find out about you, how they buy your products and any seasonal patterns in their buying behaviour can prove invaluable when planning what products or services you should be offering and when.

Combining customer purchase behaviour with how they browse online and interact with you via social media and other marketing channels can tell you the best way to market a new product to them. Using this big data will also allow you to identify your target market for specific products – making marketing your new product much more efficient and cost-effective.

For new startups, data on trends, consumer buying behaviour and sentiment within a certain industry can help predict how your proposed product will be received. Businesses with data on previous product launches can also overlay this information with the other data previously mentioned, to create a detailed overview of potential issues you could encounter when launching your new offering. Sentiment analysis, for instance, can detect if there is a lot of buzz surrounding your product before its launch, allowing you to assess stock levels and ensure your product does not run out too quickly after its release.

All of this different information, when combined, can tell you what your current and prospective customers think about you, your product and service offering and what they want from you. Sifting through social media and marketing data, buying and browsing behaviour, you can find out exactly what consumers want now and what they may want in the future.

How To Collect & Store Effectively

Like anything worthwhile, there is some preparation involved in this data driven approach to product development. From the outset, you’ll need to know what data you would like to collect and how it aligns with your business goals. This will save you time and money in the long run – allowing your data science team to spend the bulk of their time finding insights from the data, instead of trying to organise and clean it for you.

How you store and access your customer data is another key consideration. Much of this data is very personal and companies which misuse the data that they have collected risk sparking a consumer backlash. Businesses should make it clear to their customers exactly what data will be collected, what it will be used for a how it will be stored. There should always be an opt-out option for customers who are not comfortable with their data being used. For a startup, this work can be daunting at first, but hiring the services of a third party experienced in collecting, storing and analysing data can take much of the workload off your shoulders.

Any data set, whether it is big or small, holds the promise of drastically affecting every company’s product planning – and more so, for startups. Using the data which is available to you now, can make a startup’s product development much more informed and less risky than its competitors. Far from ignoring big data, startups should be at the forefront of realising its potential.


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