3 things small businesses can learn about data science from Apple

Small businesses can begin to unlock the power of big data by looking at examples from one of the largest companies in the world: Apple

apple iphone 7 usb c audio port
REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach

Big data is a buzzword that's not going away anytime soon. One of the reasons for this is simply because there is so much data. In fact, more data has been created in the past two years than in the entire history of the human race. While there is a ton of data out there, the ability to harness this data to something useful is a challenge.

Only 23% of organizations have established an enterprise-wide big data strategy. Many companies, big and small, are having trouble accessing and breaking down the massive amount of data, which means they are not utilizing the power of big data. Though this term may seem daunting, the power of big data is astounding, as it can reduce costs and increase productivity across all industries.

For small businesses that want to unlock the power of big data, one useful way is to look at lessons learned from larger companies. What worked for those companies and what didn't in regards to data analytics? Looking at technology giant Apple's relationship with big data, there are many takeaways for small businesses. Here are three things small businesses can learn about big data from Apple.

It's OK if your company doesn't use data analytics -- but start now

Interestingly enough, Apple came pretty late to the big data party. This past September Apple acquired Tuplejump, a data science technology firm, reportedly to make its technology smarter and faster. Apple's competitors, however, have already been investing heavily in big data in order to improve products and customer service.

The lesson here is that it's OK if your company hasn't made a big data strategy, but now is the time to start. 73% of organizations have already invested or plan to invest in big data by 2016, which means your brand should consider hiring a data scientist or starting to have a team member delve into big analytics.

Investing in big data is a financial undertaking, but it can save money in the long-run. In the healthcare industry, for example, big data could save as much as $300 billion each year, which equates to reducing costs by $1,000 for every adult and child. So though the upfront cost might be large, investing in big data can have a huge ROI.

Watch your competitor's use of big data

Pandora, Spotify, and Google Music are popular streaming music platforms in high demand. These tools use big data to predict songs a user will like. Apple saw this, which likely prompted the company to purchase Beats Music, a streaming music service that has a similar algorithm. Though Apple eventually shut down Beats, the purchase nevertheless shows how Apple keeps a close eye on the competition.

Small businesses should watch competitor's use of big data analytics as well. While it can be hard to see how competition uses their data, it's important to try to assess this information to keep the competitive edge. If a competitor is using big data successfully, small businesses should keep an eye on if they can mimic the tactic or if they should avoid it.

Big data can help companies avoid risk, make better decisions, and become more productive, and companies that smartly use big data will see benefits. Businesses using data will see $430 billion in productivity benefits over their competition not using data by 2020.

Customers want highly intelligent products and personalization

One of the latest products Apple has in the works is the combination of AirPods and data science to create a highly intelligent bot. Siri, which lately seems to have fallen short in comparison to the competition, will soon become the smartest bot. Users will use earbuds throughout the day, which will allow Siri to make geolocation recommendations and respond to nods and headshakes. Most likely users will be clamoring for this bot, which will be highly personalized with the use of big data and machine learning.

While small businesses probably don't have the tools or resources to create a competing product, the lesson here is that users want intelligence and personalization. Customers demand products that interact with them and compliment their daily needs -- and they want it all personalized (think Netflix, Spotify, etc.) Even if it's as simple as customizing social media marketing or personalizing newsletters or videos, users are gobbling up personalization tactics.

Again, a data scientist is the important element here, and he/she will likely be able to implement these campaigns using analytical software that goes beyond “likes”. It's important that companies go beyond basic demographics to find out what customers really want and what they are really thinking about your product or service, which means creating more personalized products.

Apple will remain one of the top technology powerhouses because they continuously innovate. Small businesses can learn from the tech giant and begin to implement big data strategies. A big data boot camp or course can help someone from the team learn how to use data analytics and improve campaigns that catch users' attention. Small businesses can start implementing data solutions such as Google Analytics or IBM's Watson Analytics to make smarter decisions that benefit the company right away.

This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. Want to Join?