We’re sometimes asked about Big Data and whether it is too Big for small and medium sized businesses. Good news. Businesses that aren’t ready for the “Big Data” ocean can still catch fish in the lake, so to speak. They can do “Big Data” type projects that generate bottom line value, but on a manageable scale. We call this (unoriginally) “Small Data”. Small Data:
- combines public data (government macroeconomic) with private data (e.g. company sales data) to provide insight;
- uses data visualization to “bring the issue to life”; and
- produces high impact results with modest investment.
This is the first in a series of posts. Stay tuned for more.
Small Data Project #1: A Better Sales Performance Dashboard
Here’s an example from a recent AGX project (we use dummy data to protect the innocent). [CLICK HERE TO GO RIGHT TO THE RESULTS] Our client, a telecom hardware manufacturer sells its products nationwide. They needed a dashboard that would help them understand how there were doing on a state by state basis. Were states where they were underperforming growth opportunities?
Our client already had a spreadsheet report. But it was hard to read. More important, it did not provide context. There was nothing to help interpret to data. So here’s what we did:
Step 1: Identify the Question
Resources were limited (they always are), so we needed to prioritize: what 2-3 critical questions did the dashboard need to answer? In this case, the client wanted to understand how sales were doing in the largest U.S. states. Was sales growth in large states tracking overall economic growth? Were there states where sales lagged the economy?
Step 2: Get Data
Aside from the company’s internal sales data, we needed two public data sets (both readily accessible from the U.S. government):
Seeing is understanding. So rather than combine data sources into a new spreadsheet report, we created data visualizations using Tableau software and put them into a Tableau dashboard. There are many good data visualization tools but we’ve found Tableau a good fit for us and our clients. It is easy to learn, affordable and has nice data management and analysis functionality.
Step 4: Check It Out and Let Us Know What You Think
Click Here to see a version of the dashboard (this one uses dummy data to protect the innocent). Let us know how to improve it. If you want help creating this for your business, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org