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In 2021, data will become crucial for SMEs

By Sunaina Swaminathan, Head of Data Acquisition, M Science

Whether you’re a Fortune 500 Company or an SME, it’s clear now more than ever that data is the differentiator when it comes to navigating unpredictability, like the kind we’ve seen over the past year. At M Science, we’ve provided data-driven insights to fuel investment and strategic decisions for nearly 20 years. But in recent years, as we’ve begun to enter the “golden age of data,” we’ve realized these same insights derived from alternative data can be used to build better business strategies.


When I first entered the world of data in 2016, “alternative data” was a term many were not familiar with. Alternative data is sourced from “non-traditional” data sources (e.g.: web scraping, transaction data, weather patterns), allowing businesses and analysts to derive additional insights beyond the surface level. Folks didn’t realize the full potential of using data-driven insights and it was a tremendous learning curve for the players in this space. I would like to believe that M Science played a crucial role in pioneering and leading alternative data adoption and helping to define the landscape.


Data enables swift and strategic responses in today’s ever-evolving landscape. In recent months, we’ve seen small and medium businesses rally with grit and determination during the pandemic to continue serving clients and customers. And as we look to a recovery that may take years for SMEs, data can be used to make smarter plans to capture market share and pave a way forward.


Data can answer key questions

At M Science, part of what we do involves assisting corporate clients in understanding data and applying it directly to their processes. Our experts and research teams analyze unstructured data in near real-time to find critical insights that help our clients make smarter, faster, more informed decisions. When it comes to helping companies and corporations, data allows us to answer questions regarding market share, competitive intelligence, customer journey, customer loyalty and retention, dollar share, and potential growth opportunities. These insights are derived from a combination of integrated data sets, such as transaction and receipt data, and web-based data sets.


And let’s be clear—there’s a case for using data throughout your entire organization, regardless of job title. Whether you’re leading your enterprise as a CEO, or working in marketing, operations, product, analytics, or anywhere else in your organization, data should be an integral part of your process and should be informing your decisions. According to a PWC survey of 1,000 senior executives, data-driven organizations are three times more likely to report significant improvement in their decision-making.


Data builds a deeper understanding of your customer

Shifts in behavior since the pandemic have given us more data from which to learn. The recent rise of cashless payments and eCommerce have also provided more transparency, allowing us to learn how and where people are spending money. More small businesses have shifted online out of necessity, but there’s also an opportunity to find new areas of growth in the new norm. Techniques such as basket analysis—a data mining technique that analyzes customer purchasing patterns—can help further product innovation by shedding light on trends, such as which products are commonly purchased together.


Certain insights can also help SMEs ensure they’re capturing a share of new-to-online shoppers. Want to know exactly which types of products shoppers browse on competitive sites? Data can provide insight to help you adapt your strategy. You can also study whether shoppers react to promotions, and ultimately link web browsing behavior to a transaction.

And as it relates to B2B organizations, insights into enterprise software trends have also been valuable. The need for tools such as DocuSign, Zoom, and so on may have picked up with remote working, but what’s next? In some cases, we’re already starting to see drop-offs in the popularity of some tools whose usage peaked earlier in the pandemic.


Leveraging your own data to build an additional revenue stream

Many SMEs also produce highly valuable data within their organizations. This data helps inform decisions internally, but many enterprises don’t realize the potential of monetizing their own data assets as well. At M Science, a huge part of my role is to help organizations leverage untapped data sources in a legal, ethical, transparent and powerful way to uncover industry- and category-wide insights, helping organizations create new revenue streams. Take Edmunds for example—this company serves as an online resource to help shoppers make more informed decisions when purchasing automobiles. As an additional revenue stream, Edmunds leverages data from its 20 million-plus visiting car shoppers to provide customer preference insights to automotive manufacturers and dealerships.


Use data to grow while making every investment dollar count

Although advertising and marketing budgets are usually the first to go during an economic downturn, smart digital advertising investments can still prove beneficial for SMEs. The key is to ensure these strategies are informed by the most appropriate data. As one example, Google Shopping continues to be an important channel for eCommerce, especially as organic search becomes increasingly competitive. Part of our offering at M Science includes providing unique insight into which competitors are participating in Google Shopping, what their conversion rate is by category, and whether their advertising strategy results in more purchases over time. As companies are looking to rebuild following the pandemic, data-driven investments will be even more important to ensure every dollar spent on advertising brings ROI.


While most SMEs and large corporations alike are focused on making it through the uncertain future that looms, data can play a role in not only rebuilding, but in growing organizations. If you’d like to learn more about the many ways data-driven insights can improve your business strategy, drop us a line at insights@mscience.com and follow our LinkedIn for updates!

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