“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” – Peter Drucker


Big Data has become one of the biggest investments for businesses in recent years. In the past 2 years, 90% of global data has been generated, with businesses investing over $180 billion annually in big data analytics. As we journey deeper into the digital age, data has truly emerged as the new fuel for modern business.


Big Data is shaping decisions, strategies, and outcomes in unprecedented ways. From tiny startups to global conglomerates, organizations are using the power of Big Data to gain insights, predict trends, and stay ahead in an increasingly competitive landscape.


What is Big Data?

When we refer to big data, we’re not merely discussing megabytes or gigabytes – it consists of petabytes (a million gigabytes+) and exabytes (billion gigabytes+) of data being collected on a daily basis by businesses and organizations around the world. 


Here’s a snapshot of what happens in just 1 minute:


Graph showing how much data is created every minute


  • 5.9M Google Queries
  • 500 Hours of Content Uploaded on Youtube
  • 66K Photos shared on Instagram
  • 347K Tweets Shared
  • 1.7M Content Pieces Shared on FB
  • 231M Emails Sent

Only in 1 minute!

With users sharing more about themselves with every click, every post, and every share, it is no wonder that data has turned into a valuable currency!


What does Big Data Look Like in a Small Business?

Until recently it was mostly large organizations like Google, Facebook, and Twitter (now X) that had the upper hand with the access and tools to store and analyze a massive inflow of data. But big data isn’t just for big businesses anymore. 


As a startup, you may already be in possession of fantastic datasets and can take advantage of mining them. 


Let’s check if you already are collecting/ have access to ‘big data’ that looks like this:

  • Customer demographics 
  • Sales transaction data
  • Employee demographics
  • Revenue and expense data
  • Inventory levels
  • Order histories
  • Customer inquiries and complaints
  • Resolution times
  • Network and website traffic data
  • System performance metrics
  • Building maintenance and repair logs
  • Media mentions and press coverage
  • Social media engagement metrics

If your answer is yes – you’ve already got your pot of gold right here! 


Don’t feel intimidated by ‘Big Data’ – It is nothing but the ability to get to know your stakeholders better through analysis – which is a key part of business strategy. 

The only difference is today, the quantity of trackable data points has erupted and the tech tools to analyze them have become democratized.

This means the analysis can happen in real time.

Businesses of all sizes can get to know their customers, suppliers, employees, and market to a level they could’ve never imagined!


What are the Benefits of Using Big Data for Small Businesses?

Real-time analytics, thanks to Big Data, provides businesses with up-to-the-minute information. So, every department can have the latest data at their fingertips. This immediacy can be a game-changer for small businesses.


Here are 7 advantages of investing in big data systems:

  1. Deep-Dive Customer Analysis: By leveraging big data, startups can gain granular insights into customer preferences, buying behaviours and sentiments, enabling them to offer personalized and tailored experiences for every individual customer.


  1. Market Mastery: Armed with insights on market trends, product dynamics, and competitor strategies, startups can ensure they’re always a step ahead, making informed strategic decisions.


  1. Agile and Streamlined Operations: Not only does big data promote agility in supply chain operations, but it also streamlines data across departments, ensuring synchronized and efficient functions across the board.


  1. Boosted Productivity: With precise and actionable data insights, your team can work smartly, improving overall productivity levels and ensuring that every decision is data-backed.


  1. Effective Marketing: Big data equips startups with the ability to craft and execute marketing campaigns that resonate deeply with the target audience, ensuring a higher ROI.


  1. Data-Driven Innovation: By drawing insights from big data, startups can pioneer innovations in product development and other business areas, ensuring they remain relevant and resonate with market demands.

7. Operational Excellence: Big data helps reduce operational costs and proactive maintenance, leading to a more efficient and cost-effective business model.


Setting up a Big Data Strategy for Your Startup

If you’re a business with data and unsure about where to start or how to utilize it, don’t worry, this is how you can get started:

  1. Define Your Objective: Like anything else, start with your goal – what do you want to achieve? As highlighted by Gartner, there are typically four main types of modern analytics: descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive. What are your use cases? Setting out clear priorities will help align your big data endeavours to your business goals. 


  1. Determine Your Current Data Environment: This understanding helps you set feasible targets, allowing for a systematic progression.


Check on your present data capabilities with this checklist:

  • Current tools and software that collect data
  • Your data analysis tools
  • Level of data-related skill set and processes within your organization

This Maturity Model by Analytics8 can also help you identify your existing level of data preparedness and create a goal for the next level.


Chart that helps you identify your level of data preparedness


3. Set Up Your Data Architecture: Your data architecture will include tools and processes for data analysis, and you could need both on-premise and/or cloud solutions. For startups, we recommend starting with the basics.

Data Collection for Startups: First, identify tools that fit the business unit and help you collect the data you need:

  • Database Management Systems (DBMS): Lightweight systems like SQLite or Microsoft Access can provide more structured data storage than spreadsheets.
  • Cloud Storage: Services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or Microsoft OneDrive allow businesses to store, share, and backup their data.
  • Accounting and Financial Software: Solutions like QuickBooks, Wave, or Xero help small businesses manage their financial data.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems: Tools like HubSpot CRM, Zoho CRM, or Insightly can be used to manage customer information, sales leads, and interactions.
  • Point of Sale (POS) Systems: Solutions such as Square or Shopify POS help businesses manage sales data, especially for retail businesses.
  • Inventory Management Systems: For businesses with physical products, basic tools like Stockpile or inFlow Inventory help keep track of stock levels and sales.
  • Website Analytics: Tools like Google Analytics provide insights into website traffic, user behaviour, and online marketing campaign effectiveness.
  • Email Marketing Platforms: Solutions like Mailchimp or Brevo help businesses collect and analyze data related to email campaigns.
  • Social Media Analytics: Platforms such as Facebook Insights or X Analytics offer data on post engagement, follower demographics, and more.
  • Task and Project Management Tools: Solutions like Trello, and Asana allow teams to track progress and manage work, offering insights into productivity and workflow.


Data Analysis for Startups: Set up an analytics team – made up of tech and employees to convert the data to decisions that move the business forward. 


  • Data visualization: These are graphical displays of data using charts, maps, and other visual tools. Tools like Tableau and Dataiku can make data comprehension much easier! In fact, modern visualization tools offer AI integration, real-time data streaming, collaboration, and interactive exploration for enhanced data representation.


  • Data Analysis Team: Having an in-house data analyst or outsourced consultant can help centralize the data analysis to create actionable next steps for your business.


  1. Data Management: Now that you’ve set up your data strategy and infrastructure, it all comes down to management. At the heart of this lies governance and culture. 
  • Data Governance: This frames the policies and processes that guarantee data quality and security. Think of it as a set of guidelines that might demand a manager archive infrequently accessed data or implement stringent encryption rules. Successful governance keeps data of high quality!


  • Data-Driven Culture: A structure is only as strong as the culture that upholds it. To truly cultivate a data-driven environment, it is important to address change management, ensuring that teams are equipped and responsive to new responsibilities and shifts. This involves three key pillars, training and enablement, budget support, and transparent communication.


3 Brands That Used Big Data to Propel Their Success

Spotify chart that showcases how they use big data to personalize playlists


  1. Spotify is a data giant with over 60 million music tracks globally and 320 million monthly users. Beyond enhancing user experience, Spotify’s data analytics transforms historical listening data into personalized playlists and music recommendations!


  1. Amazon, a leading e-commerce platform, is also a leading user of big data. They use big data to optimize their user experience in two very intelligent ways: 


  • Dynamic Pricing: Amazon alters prices frequently, with up to 2.5 million changes daily, based on factors like user behaviour and competitors’ prices.
  • Product Recommendations: Amazon tracks user interactions, whether browsing or purchasing, to suggest products. This strategy contributes to 35% of their annual sales.

Uber Eats leveraged their vast taxi data from Uber, to ensure timely and warm food deliveries. They modelled real-world conditions to accurately predict delivery times, factoring in meal preparation durations. This efficiency allowed drivers to pick up multiple meals, incentivized by bonuses. To optimize this system, they even incorporated meteorologists to forecast weather impacts on deliveries.


Government Funding for Startups Using Tech

The Canadian and Ontario governments are deeply committed to fostering a robust environment for tech startups in Canada. Here are some grants and incentives applicable to Ontario tech startups: 

  1. Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Tax Incentive Program
  2. Ontario Emerging Technologies Fund 
  3. Ontario Innovation Tax Credit 
  4. Ontario Research Fund 
  5. Government of Canada Strategic Innovation Fund 
  6. National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) 
  7. BDC’s Deep Tech Venture Fund


Want to Launch or Expand Your Business in Canada?

We are BHive, a startup incubator located in Brampton, Ontario. We offer international startups the tools, resources, and space to establish – and quickly scale – their businesses in Canada and North America. To apply to our Global Entrepreneur Incubation Program, click here!