These days even the smallest of businesses, from the candy shop on the corner to the automotive repair facility down the street, generate massive amounts of data. If you are the owner of a small business, you might think you have no way to make use of that mass of data; after all, you do not have the budget to hire your own data analyst, and you do not have the time or the expertise to make sense of the data on your own.
The good news is data management is no longer the exclusive property of big business. With some smart planning and the right tools, small business owners can harness their vast stores of data and use that information to improve their operations, build their brands and enhance their customer experience. Here are five timely data storage tips that will help you protect your information and make the most of what you collect.
Tip #1 – Simpler is Better
It is easy to get caught up in the complexity of data management and data storage, but simpler is almost always better. Creating a data storage solution that is too complex will do nothing but drive up your cost and increase the chances that something will get lost along the way.
For most small businesses, there is no advantage in creating a customized data storage and data management system. There are plenty of off-the-shelf database packages and software solutions that will do the work just as well – and for a much better price.
Tip #2 – Choose the Right Data Storage Option
If you want to make sense of the vast quantities of data your small business generates, you need the right storage solution. A solid data storage solution for your small business is one that is robust, secure and easy to use, so check out your options and choose the one that works best for you.
Backing your data up to the cloud is one way to keep it safe and secure, but you will need to be sure your servers and other on-site equipment can handle the load, and that you have the bandwidth available to send data back and forth. If cloud storage is not a viable option, hiring a local data protection company to handle traditional backup tapes can be a workable alternative.
Tip #3 – Clear Out Redundant Data
Whether you choose a cloud storage or offsite backup solution, keeping your data safe is not an inexpensive proposition. Every file you store is more money out of your pocket, so take the time to clear away the redundancies.
From identical files stored under different names to multiple versions of the same customer database, this redundant data could be costing you money with every backup you make. Hiring a data retention expert to review your network storage protocols and identify redundant information could be money well spent, and the savings can accrue through lower backup and storage costs going forward.
Tip #4 – Research Regulatory Compliance
From health care to finance, certain industries have specific data storage and compliance requirements. Before you implement any data storage and analysis solution, you should first research those regulatory compliance requirements and make sure you abide by them.
For industries subject to specific regulatory requirements, it is usually best to implement a solution designed for that industry. If you run a health care company, sticking with a data storage and analysis solution designed for the healthcare industry is a great way to reduce your overall risk while enhancing the value of the information gathered.
Tip #5 – Create a Robust Data Backup and Security Plan
No matter how much data your small business generates, it is up to you to keep it accessible and secure. That means developing a robust data backup plan – and prioritizing data security.
The threats to corporate data have never been greater, and hackers are increasingly targeting small businesses. The bad guys assume that the owners of small businesses place less emphasis on data security than their larger counterparts, and they are often right in that regard. If you do not want your small business to become the latest cautionary tale, you need to prioritize the security of your data, from scheduling regular backups to enhancing the company network with powerful firewalls and up-to-date malware and virus protection.
No matter how small your business, the data your firm generates has a high value. Advances in data management software and falling prices have allowed small business owners to anticipate the needs of their customers, enhance the value of their brands and make the most of the information on their network. If you want to use big data for your small business, you need to start with the right data storage solutions, and the tips listed above can be a big help.