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This is a guest post by Santiago Becerra, the CEO of Roambi.

“Big data” tools and platforms are generating a lot of buzz these days as enterprises seek better ways to leverage huge amounts of information. This year, big data will also penetrate the mid-market, causing IT departments to scramble to find the best products and establish processes that can turn data into business insights.

But for smaller businesses and entrepreneurs who lack the resources to invest in expensive systems and training, it’s the “little data” at their fingertips that holds most promise. Google Analytics, Excel spreadsheets, and CRM systems collect and use information that is easily overlooked and underutilized because of misperceptions that data is only useful when in larger-than-life amounts.

Little data can yield big insights for businesses small and large, and the different groups within them, like marketing, sales, and customer care.

Here are five ways your business can unleash the power of little data:

1. Zoom in on what’s relevant to you

It may be called “big data” but it doesn’t mean you have to go big to utilize it. For example, a website using Google Analytics has the ability to collect information on the number of visitors, referral source, location, pages visited, time on site, and more.

However, it is not necessary to use all available data in order to be successful. Channel your resources by focusing on business-critical data sets. For example, you may focus on how people behave on your site to drive a higher conversion rate. This may mean a deep dive into pages visited and time on site. As with all tactics in your business, it is critical to first evaluate your needs and goals and design a data strategy accordingly.

2. Data should follow your workforce

Business today is dynamic and on-the-go, so your data needs to follow the workforce wherever they are, whether it’s airport lounges, restaurants, or golf courses. Access to real-time data from a CRM system to personalize a sales call or pull key metrics into presentations can make or break a deal.

Your workforce needs access to key metrics outside of the office, on their phones, iPads, and other devices. Thankfully, there are a plethora of mobile tools for this purpose.

3. Lights. Data. Action.

Use the streams of insight from your little data to develop specific action. For example, you can use data collected from website visitors to drive actionable triggers. Specific information on an opt-in form may trigger an immediate follow-up call from a sales representative.

A visitor that views a demo may be prompted with a message that directs them to a downloadable white paper. Retailers and ecommerce sites may have actionable triggers based on purchases.

4. Small data, big service

While we often look at how data can improve our sales and marketing efforts, it can also benefit your customer directly in the form of better service. Use customer-specific data to deliver better service.

You can use data to trigger reminders about subscription products or responses to service calls without requiring customers to supply the annoying litany of information that you should know. Mass retailer Target recently unveiled a creative way to let data work for their customers with their price match guarantee.

5. Facts and form

This may be big data’s big year but it is also the decade of design. Spreadsheets are germane to business but too many rely on these complex documents not only to gather data, but also to present it. As a result, key insights get lost in a blur of cells.

A visual approach can help you to better engage your audience by highlighting key details and metrics at a glance. The explosion in use of infographics and images, as well the new interface design standards are all conspiring to push the quality of visual storytelling to new heights.

Santiago Becerra is co-founder, chairman and chief executive of Roambi, based in San Diego, Calif., which provides mobile apps designed to help businesses access and analyze data on various mobile devices.

Business usage on a tablet photo via Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock

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