For small to midsize businesses that have already embraced the digital age, gathering and using actionable data will help move them ahead of competitors in the market, including larger enterprises.
In the days before digital marketing and business intelligence gathering, smaller businesses had a difficult time competing with giant corporations with huge marketing budgets and sophisticated intelligence tools. But according to a release from Corrine Sandler, CEO of Fresh Intelligence Research Corp. and author of the book “Wake Up or Die,”
“Thanks to the internet, the boutiques and startups have access to all kinds of free tools for gathering intelligence. They’re also much more agile than the big corporations; they can make a decision and act immediately. That’s essential in a marketplace where conditions change quickly.”
The availability of so much digital data can help even the smallest company compete with the big dogs. Business intelligence technology is available in many forms and with many functions for SMBs. According to Benjamin Boxer at Forbes:
Small and medium businesses need to start adopting the technologies available to them to discover who their customers really are. After analyzing all of the personal data about their customers to develop consumer personas, SMBs must find a way to target potential customers who fit these profiles… The increasing availability of data to local SMBs is a huge opportunity for those businesses to discover who their customers are and what those consumers want. Knowing that information will enable them to build targeted brand marketing campaigns on social and local media websites that rival the best brand advertisers.
A recent IBM Research study predicts that “buying local will beat online.” IBM says that by 2019, local smaller shops will begin offering “an immersive, mixed real and virtual experience,” and that customers won’t want to wait two days for shipping when they can get quick pick-up and even delivery from a local business. The study goes on to explain that in some SMBs:
Store associates will also have… intelligent tech providing them instant product information, customer loyalty data, sales histories, user reviews, blogs and magazines, so that when you do need to talk with another human, they know exactly how to help.
Though having such digital data at their fingertips may seem like a futuristic dream to some SMBs, the company Fluid will debut its Watson-powered shopping app this year. The app will supposedly act like a personal shopping assistant, helping customers choose items based on personal style and preference. A prototype will be used by The North Face to help customers select jackets in-store.