“….This is a story of a little room over the pizza place at 315 Chestnut Street, the modest first-floor bedroom in Tallinn, Estonia…

…and the dusty basement at 1406 35th Street…  It is the story of the old dining room table at 25th and Hoffman Avenue… The south-bound bus barreling down I-95, and the second-floor above the strip mall at Roble and El Camino. It is the story of where every great idea begins. ”

These are the opening lines of the wonderfully effective “Beginnings” commercial created by Dell to celebrate its humble start and those of some of today’s most successful companies.

That room over the pizza place was where TripAdvisor got its start back in 2000; the first-floor bedroom — Skype in 2003; the south-bound bus — Dropbox in 2007.  It’s a marvelous illustration of how small businesses today can start out with next-to-nothing and grow into giants.  So many of today’s biggest brands were once tiny startups.

We live in a world of almost unlimited opportunity for small businesses today – and it’s not a stretch to say that data-driven marketing is the fuel that makes this all possible.  The incredible wealth and quality of data availability today enables businesses to deliver more relevant and timely messages — to the right person at the right place at the right time — than ever before.

The value of the data-driven marketing economy (DDME) to the economy, businesses, and consumers is huge.  Thanks to a recent study commissioned by the Data-Driven Marketing Institute (DDMI) and undertaken by Professors John Deighton of Harvard Business School and Peter Johnson of Columbia University, we now know that the DDME added $156 billion in revenue to the U.S. economy and fueled more than 675,000 jobs in 2012 alone.

We also know that the real value of data is in its exchange across the DDME.  70% of the value of the DDME – $110 billion in revenue and 478,000 jobs – depends on the ability of firms to exchange data across the DDME.

What does this have to do with that little room over the pizza place?  Just this:  Small businesses are the Big Winners in the DDME.  The exchange of data across the DDME enables small businesses to compete effectively with big players, launching innovative publications and services fueled by advertising revenue.

Data-driven marketing truly gives small businesses — as the Dell slogan so aptly states — “the power to do more.”  That’s why it’s so important that policymakers understand that new regulations stopping the exchange of data across the DDME would impact that $110 billion in revenue to the U.S. economy and 478,000 American jobs.  It would stifle innovation — and prevent the incredible growth that is now possible for small businesses to achieve.  Rather, industry self-regulation is the best and most successful tool in addressing consumer issues, while avoiding overly restrictive federal legislation.