Who are the leaders of analyzing Small Data?
For many years, the buzz term of “Big Data” has been analyzed in a wide spectrum of literature, across multiple industries. A multitude of books have been written about the topic as well as case studies and published articles from a broad spectrum of media, from Harvard Business Review to TechCrunch. An apparent pivot is happening now, whereby the concept of “Small Data” is beginning to be examined and desired by the business world.
With the accessibility of today’s sophisticated, data-rich analytics dashboards containing every piece of intelligence imaginable, an interesting phenomenon has occurred – vast information overload. Although access to a terabyte of data might have been initially exciting to business executives, that dashboard may evolve into an overwhelming cacophony of data points. The concept of “Small Data” is now increasingly being discussed amongst key business stakeholders and within the data science/marketing literature. Small Data entails acknowledging, finding, organizing and analyzing almost ephemeral-level data from individual human beings. Proponents of analyzing Small Data believe that the insights it provides can be powerful and should not be overlooked.
Simple Example of Small Data
The importance of Small Data may be examined in the theoretical example of an owner of an E-commerce business who notices that her website has a high shopping cart abandonment rate. The owner has access to a powerful analytics portal, but there are thousands of data points and multiple screens that may be overwhelming and may not pinpoint the exact problem. However, later in the day, the owner goes to a coffee shop and happens to overhear a conversation about someone trying to purchase something on her website. She hears the person complain that the shopping cart icon is hard to find because it is too small and has a light color. That piece of information may be the “golden” Small Data that the owner needed in order to fix the problem.
Research on Small Data
Within literature and books, the study of Small Data is beginning to proliferate. On the [email protected] site on the Wharton University webpage, they touted the importance of Small Data with their posting entitled: “Why Small Data Is the New Big Data.” The article provides an interview with Martin Lindstrom, the author of the new book, Small Data: The Tiny Clues that Uncover Huge Trends.” Lindstrom, a consultant, explains that he travels most days of the year, visiting individual families in order to carefully investigate how they live. Noticing casual, every-day actions such as the positioning of magnets on the families’ refrigerators actually helps Lindstrom to suggest insights for product development for his clients.
Consulting firms are beginning to focus on these Small Data sets to see how insights can be gleaned. In fact, the boutique consulting firm, Salt IO, actually thrives on analyzing Small Data, noting on its website how the firm can help to analyze “small, handcrafted, artisanal datasets.” They offer podcasts on the topic of Small Data.
Former McKinsey consultant Allen Bonde actually started a project called Small Data Group in order to serve the Small Data needs of clients. In 2013, on his blog, Bonde defined Small Data as information that is “…organized and packaged – often visually – to be accessible, understandable, and actionable for everyday tasks.”
Software vendors, as well, are addressing the trend of client interest in Small Data. Such businesses as IZENDA, SAS and Splice Software note on their websites and blogs how important Small Data insights are, providing recommendations and offering solutions to find, organize and analyze that data.
In a busy world with ubiquitous technological gadgets and information overload, stopping to reflect on a single piece of Small Data may seem challenging. Consultants and software providers appear to be addressing this issue, offering guidance and solutions to help yield the best insights.
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