Forget big data, the money is in your small data


Written By Brendan Barrow

There has been much talk about big data and how valuable it is.

Analysing vast volumes of data can show historical behavioural trends that can be used to make future predictions.

While some businesses can exploit big data and use it effectively, the majority of Small to Medium Businesses (SMBs) cannot.

They can, however, exploit their small data and win big.

Digital domination

Digital solutions dominate our business thinking as over the last decade, the digital channel has become completely dominant. Digital is not just a media channel; it is the channel for virtually all information.

Our mindset seems to be that all our problems have a digital solution, and they do not.

Pareto gold!

One of the most valuable pieces of knowledge in business is Pareto’s principle, which is that roughly 80% of outcomes come from only 20% of likely causes.

This relationship means it is possible to make approximately an 80% improvement by often solving only a few causes.

Busy owners, CEOs, and managers can put this to use every single day.

Cost of inefficiency

The cost of inefficiency in a business is often estimated to be 20-30% of company turnover. That is not a typo!

The wasted resources of cash, time, materials, human labour, and overheads can dwarf a company’s net profit.

This hidden inefficiency represents a massive opportunity for SMBs.

What is the small data?

The “small data” is information you probably have or can get very quickly in your own business, with little or no cost.

It is data that can very quickly point you in the right direction and indicate if you are improving or not.

Small data is readily available, easy to generate, cheap, and usually very reliable because it is simple.

It doesn’t even have to be digital; for example, in a warehouse, a simple tally chart might quickly illuminate what’s happening.

Small data does not need a Digital Transformation initiative to access it.

"Small data is pretty much the opposite of big data!"

How to use small data

Use small data to identify those problems that increase your costs or reduce your customer’s experience. Selecting issues that will improve your cash flow are also an excellent choice.

A quick Pareto analysis will show which problem you should pick.

Small data will continue to show whether you are improving or not.

Typical persistent irritations

Here are some typical issues:

  • shipping things to the wrong address,
  • using the wrong version of a document,
  • issuing credit notes that destroy your cash flow,
  • shipping the incorrect item,
  • waiting for another department,
  • people waiting for things or information

Business improvement sprint

Forget elaborate ideologies or highly structured business improvement systems that require in-depth training plans and a large budget.

These are for big businesses and may not be suited to the resources and dynamics of SMBs.

Your improvement tactics need to fit your business culture and size.

You need some knowledge and skills in a few simple techniques that can enable significant business improvement.

Pareto applies here too-20% of improvement tools and techniques will cover 80% of possible needs in an SMB.

Focus some smart, internal management on short sprints to solve specific issues.

Conduct a more guerilla-style business improvement approach, such as:

  • Pick an issue to resolve quickly.
  • Find or collect data only for a short period to identify the causes.
  • Solve the top cause(s) only.
  • Check it worked with a simple KPI or data collection.
  • Move on and pick the next item.
  • Avoid issues that become protracted or over-complicated
  • Big projects still need tackling, but not in this sprint way.

10 Tips for success based on experience

  • Do not try to solve all the problems; you will quickly get bogged down.
  • Keep it quick and simple- aim to identify and solve a problem in 28 days.
  • Think of improvement as a guerilla approach using a sprint method.
  • Avoid teams dragging things out and over-complicating issues.
  • If you have the resources, get multiple projects going.
  • Use team members from different functions, experience, and seniority. Mix up team members to get the best results. People with no prior knowledge of a problem often come up with the best solutions.
  • Solve problems where they occur, not in a manager’s office.
  • Short, stand up meetings where issues happen are the most effective. Keep a quick tempo.
  • The goal is simplicity, speed, and effect.
  • Nothing is perfect, so accept gains where and when you can get them and keep moving on.

Hard and Soft Gains

Improved profit and cash flow are the “hard” evidence of progress. Enhanced customer experience, staff engagement, team dynamics, and more creative culture are excellent “soft” gains as well.

Don’t wait for big data; you already have all the data you need!

1st Edition – Making Waves



Written By James Parker

It’s no secret that innovation in the construction industry is a slow adoption. Changing the status quo and doing things better, smarter, faster is not something that is coming quickly. When I approached the subject recently to a CEO heavy weight his response was; “when is the last time a major project came in under budget and early? It’s too bureaucratic, too much who you know and too much waste.”

All of this is true, but there are those out there who want to change the status quo and are doing all they can to have their voices be heard. It’s not an easy road but it has to start somewhere, NON-DRILL is one of those companies.

Inspired from an idea that came to a crew while working on one of those over budget and over time projects, NON-DRILL developed and patented a clutch system that can change one aspect of the construction project; reducing costs, installation time, and exposure to health risks.

Initially designed for temporary and permanent handrails, it was born out of an idea that there had to be a better, safer way to get this job done quickly. Handrail installations are a slow, long and arduous task, there is drilling, hitting steel, exposure to dust, redoing it when you get it wrong, not to mention the elements taking its toll over time, only to rust and having to replace the system.

Not anymore, the NON-DRILL system addresses all of this and more, simply, by connecting existing anchors in precast structures. What makes this system so innovative and unique? Well it addresses a number of pain points for the industry;

• No more drilling, it really is a safer more health-conscious option

The true impact of concrete dust is yet to be seen, but we do know that silica dust is harmful when inhaled into your lungs. As it is 100 times smaller than a grain of sand, you can be breathing it in without knowing. Even when you wear a mask while drilling, it stays in the air and travels to those who may not be as well protected.

Exposure to silica dust can lead to the development of lung cancer, silicosis kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is estimated that 230 Australians develop lung cancer each year as a result of past exposure to silica dust at work.* What this could cost the industry in the future is unknown.

• Save money on labour, it’s an average of 12-1 versus drilling when installing posts

Labour overruns are one of the biggest costs to the industry. Because it can be used for temporary and permanent systems and can attach to existing precast structures, NON-DRILL enables quick and easy edge protection. For temporary applications the system can be removed, leaving no trace of any surface damage or fixings other than the galvanised lifting anchor. This can be grouted over, eliminating the use of angle grinders and reducing trip hazards.

• Keeping that safety record in tact

Impeccable safety records are a must for any company, not just this industry. Having a system that removes the opportunity for injury just makes sense. No need for, power tools, welders, grinder or other hazards, reducing noise and the risk of hand, eye and ear injuries.

• Saving costs in the early stages

Designers and engineers are seeing the benefits and savings very early in the planning/design stages by adding the anchors for the NON-DRILL system into the initial design. By pre-planning where the pours will be for setting the anchors, there is no excuse for edge protection to not be done to Australian/Industry standards. We have seen this already in the successful planning and implementation of the system for Bridge Segments.

• Limit the damage to repurpose, saving money and damage

Thinking about waste; it makes sense to reduce and reuse. The system is easily removed or transferred from temporary to permanent. The labour savings on such a system are evident. But not having the waste from damage when removing the system…well that is a bonus for the environment.

• Reduce repairs, replacements and allocated revenues

In Australia the elements, salt, sand and heat create havoc on exposed or damaged steel. It was difficult to find data on the costs that councils and governments have to allocate to their budgets to replace and repair handrail systems but it would not be small given the “old way” of installation. Again, the labour to drill, repair, replace is where the costs are significant. The NON-DRILL system minimises all of this and based on their website video can withstand a serious amount of impact and pressure. It’s a win!

NON-DRILL is innovation for an industry that needs it. It’s exciting to see that this Australian designed system has garnered global interest. Showing no signs of slowing down, there are a number of new solutions coming available from the company over the next few months.

Being a disruptor in an industry is never easy. NON-DRILL is definitely up for the challenge tackling it head on and at full speed.

For more information on the NON-DRILL system. Visit

NON-DRILL is a C4MG client.

Do you have a solution or product that will/is making waves in your industry? We want to hear from you.  Send us a message.