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Flex Your Data Muscles - Challenge No. 9: Get Analytics Working for You

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October 15, 2015
Analytics for All
Samuel Ayisi

Flex Your Data Muscles…Part 9 of a series of monthly analytics-related challenges to help you kickstart your analytics journey or assist you in refining your existing analytics endeavors. If you’re interested in learning more about the challenge or would like to catch up or participate, go to www.hospitalityupgrade.com/watercooler_news/ or the Spring or Summer 2015 issues for further details.

We’ve reached part 9 of our 12-month “Flex Your Data Muscles” analytics challenge. We hope you’ve been following and participating in the monthly tasks associated with the analytics challenge. If you’re just getting to know about the challenge, refer to the Hospitality Upgrade e-newsletter issued in January 26, 2015 to learn more.

Every Analytics Initiative Needs Continuous Improvement
Simple fact: analytics is never done. It needs to be constantly improved to make it more relevant and effective. No matter the size of your organization or the complexity of the analytics you do, there is always room for improvement. Most organizations apply continuous improvement procedures to operational and management functions. So why not analytics? Interestingly, analytics can be used to support corporate continuous improvement initiatives. Thus, continuously improving your analytics seems appropriate.  

It would not be prudent to assume that once you have developed a set of analytics, whether to support a decision or fulfill a request, then your analytics is done and dusted. Your analytics journey has just commenced. At the individual and corporate level, you need to continuously think of the various ways in which your analytics can be improved to meet your needs.

\\\\  Were the stated analytics objectives achieved? Have these objectives been refined?

\\\\  Will the inclusion/exclusion of specific data sets/values improve the insights provided by the analytics?

\\\\  Can a different visualization help make the conclusions clearer?

\\\\  Can the same data sets be analyzed in a different way, and will the resulting inference be different?

\\\\  What happens if the underlying assumptions are revised?

\\\\  Will insights derived from other analytics or collaboration with others improve the analytics?

These are just a few of the questions that you have to keep asking in a bid to continuously improve your analytics. An analytics initiative will most likely mature and become more complicated with time. Improved analytics best practices will emerge, lessons learned from mistakes will have to be rectified, newer questions will come to the forefront due to insights gained from previous analytics, and access to improved technology may impact the way you analyze the same set of data or make previously ignored data sets analyzable.

Don’t rest on your oars. Take the initiative and strive to make continuous improvement of analytics part of the organizational culture. When you look back after a period of time, you may be surprised to discover how far you have come, or how weak your initial analytics looked.

A Review of Last Month’s Challenge: Let’s Do Some Analytics
The challenge for last month required you to calculate and analyze a few key ratios and performance indicators based on your role and analytics needs. Provided with a very simple example of a calculation along with some analysis that can be done on it, you were required to consider the data available (and the knowledge you have about that data), the business questions that need answers, and the tools available to you when deciding on what to analyze.

Were you able to find any reference materials on key ratios and performance indicators developed by hospitality industry groups such as HFTP, AHLA and HSMAI? Did you find them useful? You could have also used internal reference materials (some of which may be confidential performance review documents) to help with this challenge.

The benchmarking tasks, which the advanced level were required to do, could also be done at the basic level. However, there is the need to improve your analytics skills and also develop a solid understanding of what the analytics means before venturing into benchmarking. Hopefully, those doing the advanced level challenge were able to obtain the required benchmarking data (internally and externally) to enable the completion of this challenge. If no benchmarking data is available internally, then now would be a good time for you and your organization to start establishing benchmarks as part of your analytics initiative.

Challenge No. 9: Improving Your Analytics
How Can I Make my Analytics Better?

Perhaps you’ve completed your first analytics task or completed many as part of your role. Review what you’ve done and come up with ways to improve it. A few ways to make your analytics better include:

  • Improve your analytics skills. If your organization does not provide any formal analytics-related training or education, consider developing your analytics skills starting with free online training courses via organizations such as edX or Coursera.
  • Develop a better understanding of any analytics you’ve done so far and the associated data.
  • Use simple visualizations to help communicate the findings of your analytics in a much clearer way.
  • Seek the opinion of others within your organization to determine whether they understand your analytics the same way as you do.
  • Consider bringing in other data sets or analytics to help determine whether doing so would improve the insights derived from your analytics.
  • Take the same data sets and analyze them differently.

Comments and Hints
Basic Level:  Simple visualizations include bar charts, line graphs and pie charts. You can use any available analytics tool or office productivity tool such as Excel to do this. Nothing fancy is required.

Advanced Level:  Selecting the appropriate visualization for analytics can be tricky. Take into consideration the skill level and desires of your target audience when using visualizations to display analytics. Also consider the type of analysis/data being displayed. When visualizing benchmarking analysis, the ability to interact with the visualization, compare, rate/rank, sort, and drill down for details are desirable.

Collaboration Forum
I encourage you to participate by commenting on the newsletter posts or via our forum (http://bigdataworkout.freeforums.net), to enable you to ask questions of each other, discuss how challenges were tackled, and also raise issues/problems that you encounter. Comments are meant to be interactive as well as educative, thus I’ll urge users to be respectful of each other.

Samuel Ayisi is the head of analytics with Leumas Solutions. He can be reached at sayisi@leumassolutions.com.
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Take this month's challenge:


////////////  Using the five key ratios you analyzed in the previous task: Create a simple visualization for each analysis performed

////////////  Share your analysis and visualizations with your colleagues to get their input. 


////////////  Create appropriate visualizations for the key performance indicators that you benchmarked in the previous task.

////////////  Distribute your benchmarking and visualizations to the appropriate departments for feedback.

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