Small business data management may operate on a smaller scale than large corporations, but it follows the same process. While it requires some effort to establish, it can streamline most operations in the long run.
What Is the Purpose of Data Management?
A proper data management strategy encompasses the collection, storage, analysis, utilization and maintenance processes. It typically requires integrating various tools or practices into your workflows. It’s necessary for every industry in the U.S., even small businesses. The purpose of managing the information you collect is to inform marketing and business decisions.
Why Is Data Management Strategy Essential?
Most small businesses have a lot of data but lack an adequate structure or strategy to handle it. In its raw form, data is unusable and overwhelming to analyze or categorize manually. The process can be tedious even with the help of technology, which is why properly managing it is essential.
Data management can create consistency across systems, increase accuracy and make information more usable. As a result, your marketing, communications and operations will improve across the board.
Best Small Business Data Management Tips
Effectively storing, analyzing and maintaining the consumer information you collect can be time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be. Consider utilizing these tips to ensure your business has a proper data management strategy.
1. Use a Data Management Platform
A data management platform (DMP) finds, processes and classifies figures to make them usable for your business. It gathers and categorizes unstructured information from various first and third-party sources. Since it’s a versatile tool, you can adapt it to your business’s needs.
Think about how and where your business collects customer statistics. You probably use websites, apps or social media. Since raw data is unusable, you must find a way to convert it into an understandable format. A DMP analyzes the user behavior on these platforms to take in relevant demographic facts.
You can use it to streamline your entire process, which can be helpful if you don’t have an employee in charge of your data management strategy yet. It does the work of gathering and organizing intel for you, so you get to focus on more important tasks.
2. Visualize Data
As of 2020, small and medium-sized businesses handle over 47 Terabytes of data on average. Imagine looking through all of that manually! Without a proper data management strategy, finding what you’re looking for could take an incredibly long time. To make your collection more practical, consider turning it into images.
Visualization involves using charts, dashboards or spreadsheets to view information. The format is much more accessible than traditional methods. Instead of looking at a massive clutter of text, you can quickly read and process your findings.
3. Utilize Multi-Cloud Systems
A multi-cloud system uses multiple service providers to store data in separate locations. It ensures you’ll always have access to your information, even if one environment experiences an outage. Having a backup option can be incredibly beneficial.
It’s a simple solution that can make categorization much easier. Plus, it can help you and your employees stay in the loop even when you’re not in the workplace. The accessibility of a cloud solution is one of the best things about it. It standardizes the organization process, saves physical space and enhances your security.
4. Ensure Compliance
Compliance is an essential part of a small business data management process. Plenty of laws and regulations around personally identifiable information exist to protect consumers. If you don’t follow them, your business may have to pay fines or face consequences. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation bans startups from doing business with European users if they’re not compliant.
While data security is generally vital, you might have legal obligations to protect information. For example, you may currently store your customers’ credit card numbers or home addresses. Most regulatory agencies consider these kinds of things sensitive, meaning you must ensure it stays safe. You may have additional responsibilities if you handle health or financial data.
5. Secure Data
Threat actors typically go after small businesses because larger companies usually have more robust cybersecurity measures. In fact, they experience over four in 10 cyber attacks on average. Consumer information is one of your business’s most valuable assets. Having proper data security is crucial for keeping it protected.
It’s an essential aspect of small business data management because many organization and maintenance tools require some sort of safety net. Think of a cloud storage solution, for example. You’ll need to protect your business’s information if the service provider doesn’t offer to.
You can protect it in a variety of ways. For instance, you could limit access so people can only enter, update or move data when their job duties require it. You could also encrypt it or secure the storage system. Think about the kinds of information you have, its current location and what you can do to protect it better.
6. Ensure Data Quality
A massive amount of consumer data exists. The amount in the world will likely reach 180 zettabytes by 2025. An excellent approach to data management involves being selective about the information you collect. It better informs your marketing and business decisions later on.
People make over 5 billion searches, send 294 billion emails and share 350 million photos on Facebook daily. While you could simply gather as much as possible, ensuring its quality is crucial. Monitor the information you collect and routinely check its integrity and accuracy. You can use artificial intelligence or another technological solution for this process.
7. Make Backups
Ensuring information integrity is a crucial part of a proper data management strategy. The details you collect from consumers only have worth if they’re accurate and intact. While you could simply do regular checks to remove duplicates and ensure everything is in order, it’s essential to make backups.
What happens when an outage, system error or cyber attack occurs? In 2021, ransomware affected around 70% of small businesses in the U.S. They lost their data unless they paid an excessive amount to cyber criminals.
Keeping thorough records and multiple copies can help you protect against minor entry mistakes and inconsistencies. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends you back up information once a week at minimum when storing it in a cloud environment.
Properly Manage Data for Success
While small business data management may be involved, it’s an effective — and arguably essential — practice. You can streamline your operations, make data-driven decisions and improve your marketing tactics with an organized process.