6 Data Management Tips for Small Business Owners

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Proper DataOps practices can ensure data is handled efficiently and it can be accessed and leveraged by everyone in the organization who needs it.

Having an effective data management strategy in place is essential for all small businesses, especially those operating in the e-commerce space where a torrent of significant data is generated by every interaction and transaction made by customers.

If you feel like you are not making optimal use of your resources and you want to implement improvements, here are a few data management tips that should set you on the right track.

See also: Survey Finds Data Growth Rates Outsizing Management Abilities

DataOps is impactful

With the right DataOps practices in place, you can not only take steps to ensure that data is handled efficiently, but also that it can be accessed and leveraged by everyone in the organization who needs it.

There are few key things to think about when building a DataOps practice that will work for your e-commerce firm. This includes factoring in the way data is integrated, validated, and monitored, as well as looking for where optimizations can be made to existing processes. You will also need to consider how your practice and resources will scale as your business grows. Cross-department communication and collaboration will be central to its success and your efforts will be rewarded with the creation of reliable, resilient data pipelines.

Data is easier to digest when expressed visually

You might not have the vast resources and people-power of your larger competitors, but even small e-commerce organizations can glean useful insights from data if it is presented in an engaging way.

Rather than relying on raw, potentially overwhelming databases full of indecipherable figures, you should aim to generate reports which showcase pertinent trends visually.

This should let you analyze information more precisely and without needing to spend hours sifting through spreadsheets.

In addition, data visualization has the benefit of making it straightforward to share your findings with others, whether or not they have a background in data science and analysis. A chart or graph can express everything you need to get across in a presentation about sales projections, site performance, and customer satisfaction, without needing lengthy verbal explanations as well.

Security should be taking seriously

While the biggest scandals involving data loss and theft tend to hit the headlines whenever they involve major organizations and internationally recognized brands, that does not mean that smaller firms are immune from scrutiny in this respect.

Indeed it is up and coming e-commerce sites that have far more to lose than their established rivals, as recovering from a breach that leaves private information exposed is far trickier for lesser-known operators.

Your approach to security should be robust and consistent, whether your data is kept in-house on hardware for which you are directly responsible, or on third-party servers in data centers provided by a separate hosting firm.

Encrypting data to prevent it from being exploited by cybercriminals is vital, as is making use of software to detect and prevent breaches from being achieved.

Human error is also a major factor that impacts data loss in a business environment, so training employees to follow best practices and developing a security-centric company culture is just as necessary as integrating changes to software and hardware.

Backup and recovery planning should be embraced

For all e-commerce sites, data is not just a nice bonus to have, but the foundation of the performance tracking and decision making processes that guide how the business grows and evolves going forwards.

Because of this, it is not just important to stop unwanted access from outsiders, but also to back up everything and furthermore make sure that you can recover in the event of a disaster occurring.

In terms of data backups, there are lots of options available and if you have the means it makes sense to implement more than one failsafe for faults or outages that hit your main information repository.

Prior to the rise of affordable, widely accessible cloud-powered data backup solutions, many firms would have to keep mission-critical information on external hard drives, local servers, and even optical media. Today, there is little reason to ignore the appeal of cloud storage, since it can be both more economical and infinitely more convenient for the purposes of backup and recovery.

In terms of planning for disaster recovery, you should aim to work out the approach that will allow your operations to resume as quickly as possible, while also determining whether you can achieve this on your own or whether you need to work with an outside support provider in this context.

Most importantly of all, your backups should be created regularly so that continuity can be preserved no matter when disaster strikes. Getting into a good routine and planning for the worst while hoping for the best will put you in the best possible position for long term resilience.

Regulatory compliance cannot be ignored

No e-commerce site operates in a vacuum, and there are a host of legal requirements and obligations that each must meet or exceed in order to avoid falling foul of regulatory scrutiny and punishment.

This is particularly pertinent when it comes to data management, since your shopping site has a responsibility to keep customer information safe and secure, as well as only using it in ways that are allowed within the framework of current legislation.

Further to this, you should endeavor to keep on top of the changes and trends that are shaping data privacy at the moment, since new regulations are introduced with surprising regularity and there are also different rules implemented on a state-by-state basis. This means that you may need to revise your practices depending on the regions in which you want to target customers.

Outsourcing is an option

As hinted at from both a data security and storage perspective, it can also make sense to outsource your data management responsibilities to dedicated third-party operators that are better equipped to keep up with the rigors of the processes involved.

Various providers offer data management solutions for small businesses, both in the e-commerce space and across a host of other industries.

Over time you may evolve and develop your own in-house practices that will render outsourcing redundant further down the line, but whenever there is an opportunity to unburden yourself of awkward essentials so you can focus your attention on matters you actually can grapple with internally, you should take it.

The main thing to remember is that no small e-commerce business can afford to overlook the advantages of effective data management, and that inaction on this issue can cost you customers.

Kevin Kline

About Kevin Kline

Kevin Kline serves as Principal Program Manager at SentryOne. He is a founder and former president of PASS and the author of popular IT books like SQL in a Nutshell. Kevin is a renowned database expert, software industry veteran, Microsoft SQL Server MVP, and long-time blogger at SentryOne. As a noted leader in the SQL Server community, Kevin blogs about Microsoft Data Platform features and best practices, SQL Server trends, and professional development for data professionals. (@kekline)

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