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Decoding Big Data for Business Growth (Infographic) If all you do is gather data, you'll be left behind competitors who are harnessing this wealth of information more effectively.

By Eric Siu

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

These days, everybody wants to throw around the phrase "big data" like it's some kind of savior that'll combat shorter attention spans and the demand for increasingly granular marketing messages tailored to the "personalized generation."

The thing is, big data is only helpful if it's actually used. If all you do is gather data -- or worse, talk about gathering data -- you'll be left behind competitors who are harnessing this wealth of information more effectively.

Related: Without Good Analysis, Big Data Is Just a Big Trash Dump

Before you can catch up with more data-savvy companies, there are a few things you need to understand about big data.

What is big data?

For starters, what does "big data" actually mean? As it turns out, it isn't just some buzzword that marketers like to throw around.

Big data is a new term used to describe the growth and availability of large data sets which, when properly analyzed, can help make better business decisions, such as improving customer relations, developing new products, and enhancing overall business growth.

Where can you find this information? While you can gather big data from external sources, such as your social media accounts, pay-per-click accounts or industry research groups, chances are you already have plenty of data in the form of emails, transaction data and customer service logs.

How can you use big data?

Let's break down that definition of big data shared above to uncover a few of the different ways your business can use big data:

  • Improve customer relations. The more you know about your customers, the better able you'll be to serve them. AT&T, for example, improved customer satisfaction by 59 percent by using big data and a tower-outage analyzer to prioritize repairs.

  • Develop new products. You know all that data you've gathered from individual customer purchases? When analyzed correctly, that information could show you which products to promote more, which of your customers' needs are going unmet and when to feature certain products over others. Big data makes it possible.

  • Enhance overall business growth. Take the example of Target, which uses big data to recognize when women are pregnant and send them coupons relevant to each stage of the pregnancy. That's a major growth opportunity for the retail chain. Your business can realize similar gains with the appropriate use of big data.

Related: 5 Ways Data Can Enhance Marketing Campaigns

Pretty fascinating, right? I'm thrilled by the potential big data holds for business growth, which is why I've compiled even more statistics and recommendations on the strategy in my Decoding Big Data for Business Growth infographic. Share this image on your site or your favorite social profile:

Click to Enlarge

Decoding Big Data for Business Growth (Infographic)

Related: The Top 5 Challenges Facing Big Data Startups Today

Eric Siu

CEO, Single Grain. Founder, Growth Everywhere.

Eric Siu is founder of the A-player Hiring Blueprint, which teaches entrepreneurs how to hire top talent effectively. He also runs digital marketing agency Single Grain.

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