Before implementing processes, solutions and policies, effective data management for small businesses begins with defining a business’s data goals. Understanding what all your departments and teams plan to do with data enables you to utilize it in a way that provides real value to your business.
SEE: Data governance checklist for your organization (TechRepublic Premium)
It is especially crucial for smaller businesses to be thoughtful about their data management strategy if they want to grow and remain competitive in their respective markets. To get started with an effective data management strategy, consider the following data management tips, and don’t be afraid to strategize with your team too.
Focus on creating new data
Small businesses often face challenges when it comes to acquiring new data, especially related to prospective customers. Gathering the right volume of fresh, correct, high quality and up-to-date data often takes much longer than it would for larger businesses with extensive resources and data teams.
In order to keep up with competitors and ensure continued growth, small businesses need data management strategies that involve focusing on the creation of new data without neglecting existing data.
Customer acquisition campaigns provide a viable avenue for small business data acquisition. The most basic data acquisition channels include social media platforms, SEO content, paid social, paid search and referrals. However, purchasing data from reputable data insights companies is also an option.
Ensure and maintain data quality
Small businesses need to make sure the data they use is clean, error-free and reliable. Failure to handle data quality issues can lead to severe consequences like wastage of financial resources, duplicate communications and possible damage to a brand due to untrustworthy data.
Data should be constantly examined to make sure that outdated data is removed from data management systems. Especially for businesses with limited data talent on staff, certain data quality tools are a worthwhile investment for keeping up with data quality management.
SEE: Best practices to improve data quality (TechRepublic)
Consider data compliance requirements
Making sure data is compliant is the first action small businesses should consider taking when they manage data. Over time, they should consistently update their data compliance processes to ensure they follow the data protection laws and regulations that apply to their global regions and industries. Certain data governance frameworks and platforms are especially helpful to companies that want to improve their compliance posture.
SEE: Top data governance tools (TechRepublic)
Schedule regular data cleansing
Regardless of the size of the company, data management is not a one-off process. Ensuring that data is compliant and high-quality requires small businesses to carry out data cleansing procedures regularly. This is particularly important as data changes over time. Customer patterns vary; they may randomly change their information at any time.
Small businesses should therefore keep an eye out for incomplete data, data entry errors and invalid contact information as part of their data management schedule. They should also get rid of useless customer information to keep data fresh and accurate.
Prioritize data protection and security
As the relative costs of data breaches continue to rise, affected firms today suffer additional losses such as lost customer trust, tarnished brand image and legal fees. For the longevity and health of a brand, customer and employee data protection must be prioritized. Establishing an extensive and proactive cybersecurity posture against a rapidly evolving cyber threat landscape is the best way to ensure that data is secure.
Data security can also be compromised from within the business through internal risks such as employee error. Unfortunately, the effects of these mistakes can go undetected for much longer. Training employees on cybersecurity best practices is one of the best ways to strengthen data management and security; better access management can also reduce the possibility of errors.
SEE: How does data governance affect data security and privacy? (TechRepublic)
Evaluate data management platforms
Data management platforms help small businesses clean, enhance and organize their data, offering them a simple and comprehensive solution for data management. The most important step in selecting a data management platform, however, is not finding the “best” or most favorably reviewed solution. Instead, prospective buyers should look for one that specifically addresses the needs of small businesses. Most importantly, they should look for a platform that users within the business can easily understand and apply to their work.
Beyond choosing the right data management platform for your business, it’s important to set that platform up for success. Begin by reviewing native and add-on security measures that work for your chosen data management platform. Small businesses should also consider migrating to cloud data management solutions if applicable, as they provide end-to-end visibility and more seamlessly integrate with other small business software.
Visualize your data
Visualizing data provides organizations with a clear picture of their performance and helps them to devise better strategies and improve their operations. This may provide a boost to the activities of a small business. Business intelligence tools prove effective for most data visualization needs, especially in the case of presenting data to various stakeholders. For additional resources to get started with a data visualization strategy, take a look at the Big Data Visualization Toolkit Bundle from TechRepublic Academy.
Why is data management important for small businesses?
It is much easier for small businesses to pivot their operations based on customer behaviors and behavioral data. Proper data management gives small businesses immediate and applicable market knowledge, which empowers them to become more responsive to market changes.
This is a distinctive edge that proper data management can give to small businesses, as larger enterprises have more infrastructure and complexities that take longer to adjust, even with the right data management practices in place.
Cost-effectiveness is crucial for smaller businesses, as they are unlikely to match the resources of their larger competitors. Data management helps these small businesses avoid wasting resources and helps to provide direction on where and how to channel resources more effectively.
When small businesses implement weaker data management with the assumption that their data is not as important or valuable as that of larger organizations, they leave themselves open to cyberattacks. As a result, these cyberattacks can cripple smaller businesses. Effective data management strategies and tools are the surest ways to protect data for companies of all sizes, ensuring that data can remain operational while also keeping data compliant with data governance requirements.