Using Big Data to Deliver Little ‘Wows’

02 May 2018


Verteda recently sat down with David Ricketts, Head of Marketing at Six Degrees Group, to understand more about his perspectives on analytics and big data in the sports & hospitality sectors. We asked him a number of questions about how he sees big data impacting the sector and what more can be done to get the most out of data within your organisation.


Are organisations within the sector effectively leveraging analytics now?

David Ricketts: Like any other industry, there are some organisations who are leading the way, and some who are still not leveraging analytics to their full potential. It’s human nature: if it’s difficult, then people don’t do it, and so analytics projects often need a new set of eyes on them to figure out the direction for the project.

With all of these big data activities, it’s about having a clear goal in mind. What are you trying to find out? What are you trying to achieve?

If you’re trying to reduce costs, then you have a different set of questions to ask of your data compared with your goal being to increase market share.

And that’s the point: it’s about having questions that you ask of your data. Defining those questions helps increase your chances of success.

Very often, businesses start out with analytics projects where the aim is to generate reports. Suddenly, management teams are receiving reports filled with data and metrics, which is interesting for a while but soon the interest wanes.

That’s why big data has to deliver regular little ‘wows’.

By that, I mean that analytics projects need to uncover regular wins in order to stay top of mind within a business; whether that’s uncovering savings or spotting a new market opportunity. If a business doesn’t regularly uncover new insights that deliver business outcomes, then the perceived value of engaging with analytics and data within the business drops.

Having key questions that your business is trying to seek answers to provides direction for your analytics endeavours, and points your staff towards uncovering regular wins, or ‘wows’. It’s about creating those moments when you go, ‘wow, look what we found out/saved/discovered/enabled’.

Those moments make all the difference.


Who do you see is really leveraging analytics for their business?

David Ricketts: Outside of the industry, we can see leaders such as Amazon and Netflix making huge progress due to analytics. Amazon has grown their business on data; from online e-commerce activities where they can use data to deliver personalised product recommendations to customers, to back-office operations where warehousing staff time is monitored to review how much time is spent packaging customer orders. They probably defined questions such as ‘How do we increase the average order spend’ to uncover insights about showing customers further product recommendations, and questions such as ‘How do we increase productivity in our warehouse?’ to find out that an average customer order takes X minutes to fulfil and that by shortening each one by 10% would increase productivity X-fold.

Without these starting questions, the data available would have been useless and directionless. It’s not about creating more data, it’s about uncovering actionable insights. Insights that enable you to take action, rather than producing data for data’s sake.

It’s about bringing the data together with a narrative, or story. The data on its own is pretty pointless, but frame it within a story showing what your aim is, what your challenge is and what’s stopping you overcoming that challenge, and the data can be powerful.


What isn’t working about analytics across the sports and hospitality sectors?

David Ricketts: Unfortunately, too many companies think they have implemented a business intelligence solution, when, in fact, all they have put in place is a slick reporting application.  They think that producing reports is the end goal, whereas it’s about producing actionable insights from data.

For example, we worked with a jewellery company on an analytics project. They found that on Fridays in city centre locations, they experienced a surge in sales, only to have many of those items returned on Monday morning. What they found out was that jewellery was being purchased for a Saturday night out and returned once it had been worn. They also found out that in a lot of cases, the jewellery was being returned without a receipt, so they immediately stopped refunds for returns without receipts and this reduced the problem significantly. In this case, it was about marrying anecdotal evidence with data to uncover the pattern and take a business action.


Can you give us some examples of ‘little wows’ in big data projects?

David Ricketts: Little wows or wins are all about delivering those continuous, regular breakthroughs in your analytics projects. That could be improvements in customer experience by using data to see that a group of customers consistently purchase the same product every month so why not send them a freebie - so that’s a wow for the customer, or internal wins, such as a team being recognised for making amazing cost savings, or a department increasing revenues by 50% due to actions inspired by data insights. If these ‘wows’ only happen once a year, then staff quickly lose interest in the value that analytics can deliver.

Those wows might not always be cost savers or revenue improvement insights. Sometimes it can be about spotting anomalies in data; i.e. ‘Why have we sold double the amount of that product at that particular kiosk but not at the next kiosk?’ Sometimes it can be an opportunity to uncover things that don’t look quite right, or an opportunity to take learnings to increase sales in other areas. It forces you to ask the question and add narrative to the data to uncover why that particular pattern has emerged.


What can venues and hospitality organisations use data for?

David Ricketts: Aside from the obvious reporting opportunities about product purchases, attendee numbers etc., live real-time event day reporting tools like Verteda deliver with Primo give you the opportunity to make decisions in real-time, not a day after the event when activities can’t be influenced. If you see a particular product that isn’t moving quickly, then you can take a decision in real-time to offer a discount. I think more venues could be using data in real-time to make changes on the day, rather than waiting for the next event to see the impact of their changes.

There are also many other opportunities where venues can deliver little ‘wows’ to their attendees, through using analytics to direct people to shorter queues or by sending out personal recommendations and offers through mobile devices on the day.

Analytics can be used to deliver amazing customer experiences and also to make dramatic operational improvements. It’s win-win.


Find out more about Event Day Management solutions and analytics here: