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Data Visualization for SMBs: Helping Make Sense of ‘Little Data’

Data Visualization for SMBs: Helping Make Sense of 'Little Data'Small-business owners are tapping Big Data more than ever before, but their demand for new data-based insights doesn’t mean that they’re immune to the overwhelming effect that a plethora of options and a flood of fresh ideas can bring.

If your sales team wants to see customer data put to use, give it to them in ways that they can use it on the go. That’s the message owners are communicating, loud and clear. Big Data analysis, meet “little data” delivery. Let’s look at a recent study that shows what that can mean.

Recent Study: Big Data in a Smaller Package

A new report from data-interaction specialists at Roambi shows the explosion of demand for Big Data — and also for simple, mobile, and non-traditional ways to share, use, and assess all this information.

Start with the follow stats: while 83% of the business owners polled said they’d discovered surprising things about their business via Big Data, more than a third of the respondents simultaneously found the scale of of the material to be overwhelming and/or anxiety inducing.

Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that the top three spending priorities among the business owners, in early 2013, turned out to be:

(1.) Data-visualization tools

(2.) Mobile hardware and software

(3.) Big Data solutions to business-intelligence questions

These three points come together in the following way: it’s data visualization tools that have taken the lead, in terms of mobile apps — second only to e-mail — among the respondents. Specifically, owners said they want new kinds of interactive charts and graphs to highlight what Big Data has to tell them.

Beyond that, what about how we use such tools? The following section takes a look at strategies for telling Big Data stories on a digestible scale.

Scaling Big Data: 3 Steps for Business Owners

Having the right tools, like the ones the Roambi study addressed, is one thing. But bringing Big Data to your next business project also requires some scaling steps on your part.

The following tips emphasize ways to reap the rewards, when it comes to Big Data’s surprising revelations, all the while scaling the experience to a team-friendly presentations and making them accessible business-wide.

— Quality Over Quantity: It’s tempting to cram every juicy statistic or important metric into one robust chart, but the end result can turn out cluttered and overwhelming. Remove redundant information, background colors, and 3D effects. Data visualization is meant to add clarity, not confusion. Know what story you want to tell and identify the specific data that will help convey your key messages and persuade your audience.

— Think for the Small Screen: Bear in mind that most presentations are opened up on mobile phones or tablets. Scroll through a 1,000-cell spreadsheet on your smartphone screen lately? Applications that are mobile-ready are more affordable than ever, so explore and select ones that allow you convey your Big Data findings in bite-size and graphics-supported segments. Think mobile first.

— Take Your Data to the Cloud: Juggling multiple sources of data is enough to handle already, so take the burden out of management and bring your material to the cloud for secure, affordable, and convenient storage. Most of your key business apps are already in the cloud — it’s time for your data to catch up.

And so, the days of text reports, slideshows, and spreadsheets may be on the wane. The next generation of business intelligence demands new — read: mobile and cloud-based — tools that illustrate the trends and connections all this next-generation analysis can provide.

Data sets and the things they can do for business owners may be bigger than ever, but the way we absorb this information has to match that usefulness in your employees’ everyday lives.

 

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