The Value of Data

big-dataI’m always on the look-out for stories of companies using data and analytics to manage their business. In a recent case study, IBM presented the story of the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium’s use of data and analytics to better predict visitor behavior.

According to the story, prior to taking a data-driven management approach, the Port Defiance Zoo and Aquarium would guess how many visitors they would have each day. They would then use these estimates to determine how many employees to have on staff and how much supplies they should order.

While these estimates were based on instinct and experience, they were never that accurate. The zoo already had a great deal of data collected and stored in their point-of-sale and online systems, but had no way of analyzing that data to gain insights. The key for their success was finding ways to connect to those data stores and then try to find other data sources to help in predicting visitor traffic.

Using this point-of-sale data combined with other external data (e.g., social media check-in data, weather forecasts, etc), the zoo was able to understand traffic patterns from past years and use that information to predict visitor patterns for the future. Combining weather data with ticket sales (and other data), they were able to better understand traffic patterns during all sorts of weather throughout the year.

This case study provides a great example of how any type of organization can use data to better manage their business. You don’t have to be a big company or have a huge data set to take advantage of analytic approaches to gain insights into your business.

Does your organization understand the value of data?

IBMThis post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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