When I speak with a small business owner, the topic of managing their most valuable asset often comes up. Usually, I’ll provoke the discussion: What really is your most valuable asset? What are you doing to protect it? What are you doing to grow it?
At first, they are surprised to learn that I’m talking about the company’s data; their customer data, performance data, market behavior data, etc. Small business owners are more accustomed to hearing about the business risks tied to the value of their employees or the risks to the business if the owner is unable to perform. Yet for an increasing number of businesses, the value of the data they possess outweighs every other asset.
I then point out that a number of other firms are already making a living capitalizing on your data: Google is the best example but there are plenty of others: Yahoo, Yelp, Patch, Bing, etc.. I emphasize that you and you company’s data are the assets that makes Google valuable. But what about capitalizing it for yourself? It is surprising how many of us have not thought about this.
The art and science of small business data management is obviously in its infancy. But there are things a small business owner can do – right here, right now – to lock in and grow the value of this phenomenal asset. The basic steps are to recognize what’s there, capture and store it, and then find ways to mine it. Beyond that, it makes sense to look at the software platforms and internal structure that develops and uses this information, and the most obvious ways that it might be improved.
I expect to write much more on the topic of scientific data management for small businesses. For now, perhaps just introducing the concept is enough to get things moving in a positive direction.