There’s no such thing as big data…

…if you work in the hospitality and events industry.

Big data became something of a buzzword in 2016 but the term is overused and generic when in fact it has quite a specific meaning.  According to Wikipedia, big data is ‘a term for data sets that are so large or complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate to deal with them.’

You don’t have big data.  What you have is lots of data, which presents its’ own challenges and opportunities but it is not ‘big data’.  You’ll have data on your finances, on your customers and their behaviour, on your social media, pipeline, forecasts, the performance of your team.  Everything is measured and measurable, if you use the right metrics, and it all creates data.

With all these numbers available it’s often hard to see what’s actually going on, especially when you are busy trying to stay on top of your inbox and keep your customers happy. Unlocking the information the data contains is the trick.  Cut out the noise and focus on the key management information you need, to understand what’s going on and how you can influence that information to grow your business.

I’d suggest that there are five broad information sectors that you should at.  How often you look at them, and which ones you prioritise, are for you to decide but the key area are:

  1. Your P&L, turnover, forecast and cashflow.  Look at where you were last month or last year, where you are now and where you want to be in 1, 3, 6 or 12 months.  How are you going to get there?
  2. Customer behaviour. Where do they come from, what do they buy, how long do you retain them?  Do they repeat purchase and if so, how often?  If you lose customers, where do they go?  How can you get new customers, or how can you get back customers that you’ve lost?
  3. Measure customer satisfaction, streamline your processes so your team can be as efficient as possible, benchmark what you do against your competitors.  What does ‘good’ look like and how can you be better?
  4. What are your staff satisfaction and retention rates like?  We work in a service industry so your people are your biggest asset.  Find the best people, make sure they are in the right roles, develop them and keep them happy.
  5. Look at your web and social media analytics, is your message getting across and are people interacting with you?  How much do you spend on marketing and what do you get for that spend?  What’s the cost of acquisition for a new customer through each of your marketing channels?

There’s always a story so look for it.  Dig a bit deeper to really understand what the data is telling you.  Ask how, who, what, when, where, how many, how much.  A table full of numbers doesn’t help you, that’s data.  Presented right, information should be clear, concise, informative and useful.  Use colours; green means good, red means could-be-better.  Use graphs; up is growth, down is not.  Focus on what is important to you.  Maybe it’s customer satisfaction, maybe it’s daily sales, maybe it’s stock utilisation.  Prioritise and ask questions to get the information you need to make informed decisions.

The best way to gather and manage this information will differ between businesses, and between people in the same business, depending on what you need to see and what your priorities are.  There is no one-size-fits-all solution but there are plenty of resources out there to help you.  Most software now includes some form of dashboard to present information to you.  Excel works well for turning numbers into graphs.  Specialist software is available to combine multiple data sources to see trends across broader sections of your business.  Whatever you use, make sure it’s customisable.  Information is what you want to see, not what your software wants to show you.

If you need any help turning your data into information, the Grown-Ups would love to help you!




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