Big data can help boost small business growth

By Nicole Miskelly | 2 December 2014

The Times has reported that cloud-based address management provider, Postcode Anywhere have built software to convert website visitors into paying customers. Using the big data collected by their customers, Postcode Anywhere have been able to achieve a unified view of what their customers are doing on their site, from buying a product, making a call and  even tweeting about the company.

By using their Trigger software, Postcode Anywhere enables small companies to find value in even minor amounts of information, by grouping it together with information from similar companies to discover common problems. The technology company is then able to suggest solutions to the problems that the data shows.

Trigger is designed to be an alternative to services that require individuals to give up their privacy in exchange for a better service. When compared to players such as Facebook and Google who have access to large amounts of their user’s personal data, Jamie Turner (Chief Technology Officer) said that sites such as these collect far more personal data than Postcode Anywhere does or would even want to do. “What we’re trying to do is figure out what you can track that is not personally identifiable, because that’s where things get difficult from a privacy perspective,” he says.

In comparison to sites such as Facebook, which came under fire this year for manipulating their user data, Postcode Anywhere want to understand their customers while protecting their privacy. Postcode anywhere does not know which country you are in but it can see what browser you are using, what device you are on and the screen size of your device. It can also see how you behave on its site and predict what you are most likely to do next.

The Times reports that the Worchester-based business which has  around 10,000 companies on its books who use its services to find out what types of people are using their websites, were always open to the idea of using big data unlike many small businesses. According to Tom Heath (Head of Research at the Open Data Institute) there has been too much emphasis on the word “big” when it comes to big data and because of this many SME’s believe that it doesn’t apply to them. “Lots of companies will have small amounts of data, which they don’t realise as much value form as they could.”

The Times reports that in today’s digital age, there are many small companies with millions of users and more data than they can handle and although big companies have been able to drive value from their data for years, recent advances in big data technology have levelled the playing field.

According to Fran Bennett (Chief Executive and co-founder of Mastodon C) the cost of technology isn’t a problem for small companies anymore because most of it is open source, free or cheap to use and hardware isn’t expensive but the real barrier is enabling a small company to use the data just as well as a big company.

Bennett also says that less technical companies will benefit when the technology becomes more accessible. “As things get easier to uses, the opportunities will come down to small companies as well.”

According to The Times, Postcode Anywhere is one of many businesses hoping to enable small businesses to find as much value in their big data as bigger companies. Postcode Anywhere is planning to put Trigger through trials next year in preparation for their April launch.

 

By Nicole Miskelly, bobsguide Lead Journalist

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