Welcome to Part 10 of our 12-month “Flex Your Data Muscles” analytics challenge. We hope that the monthly tasks associated with the analytics challenge have been worth your while. If you’re just getting to know about the challenge, click here to refer to the Hospitality Upgrade newsletter issued in January 2015 to learn more.

Realizing the Value of Analytics

The value of any analytics effort can be measured by how closely it meets the intended objectives, i.e. why were the analytics done in the first place? Was it done to support decision-making, provide feedback, manage and monitor performance, develop a better understanding of a business challenge, or predict the future? Whatever the goal, the true value is not realized until the analytics is used to effectively fulfill the intended objectives. This implies that if, for example, the analytics was developed to support decision-making, then it has to be used to support the relevant decisions. Otherwise, the analytics effort may have been futile.

One of the most challenging aspects of the analytics journey is putting the analytics developed into meaningful use, i.e. transforming the insights obtained from the analytics into action. This can be particularly difficult if the desired objectives were not previously established or if the analytics cannot be readily put to good use. In most hospitality scenarios, it would be prudent to establish your analytics objectives prior to devoting resources to the analytics effort. Then align the resulting analytics to the stated objectives to determine whether the value of the analytics have been realized.

A Review of Last Month’s Challenge: Improving Your Analytics
During last month’s challenge you were required to consider the various ways in which the analytics you have performed so far can be improved. A number of suggestions were provided including;
  • the use of simple visualizations to help clarify your analytics;
  • improving your analytics skills;
  • seeking the opinions of your target audience; and
  • analyzing the same data set in a different way.

The challenge also tasked you to add a simple visualization (chart or graph) to the analytics you’ve done so far. Nothing fancy was required, thus a simple bar chart or a table with conditionally colored cells using any readily available analytics tool would fulfill the requirement. Hopefully you received some useful and constructive feedback from those you shared your analytics and visualizations with.

Some people grasp analytics much better when it is visualized, thus very little harm is done by adding simple visualizations to your analytics. As the adage goes, "a picture is worth a thousand words." 

Series Recap: What We’ve Done So Far



What we did


Challenge #1 - Where is my data?

Identify and create a list of your various data sources (both internal and external).


Challenge #2 - What’s in my data source?

Figure out exactly what's in your data sources.


Challenge #3 - What questions do I have?

Identify and list the top five business questions that you frequently need answered. It didn't matter whether you currently get all the required answers or it's on your wish list.


Challenge #4 - What data can help answer my questions?

Map your information needs to your data sources. The emphasis was to utilize the information gathered during the first two challenges, and identify any data gaps.


Challenge #5 – Time for pit-stop

Review and refine results achieved so far.


Challenge #6 – Let’s get some data.

Get the data needed for your analytics.


Challenge #7 – Which analytics tools should I use?

Selecting the “best-fit” analytics tool.


Challenge #8 – Let’s do some analytics

Perform some simple analytics and benchmarking tasks.


Challenge #9 – Improving your analytics

Continuously improving your analytics.


Challenge 10: Making Effective Use of Your Analytics

I have my analytics, now what?

So you’ve completed your analytics or received a set of analytics. What next? It’s now time to transform the insights from your analytics into action. The actions taken based on the analytics insights should be seen as value-added when compared to actions not supported by analytics. This does not imply that decisions should be based solely on analytics. However, analytics insights should be given a stronger weighting during decision-making. Remember that analytics by themselves do not solve your business challenges. Rather, they provide guidance when taking actions to solve these challenges.

For the purposes of this challenge, the goal of the analytics you performed was to help answer your top business challenges identified during the earlier part of the series. So now is the time to find out whether your analytics helps to provide guidance to effectively deal with the identified business challenges. This is the “now what?”

As you review the results of your analytics, also take time to identify other areas in which the analytics could potentially be relevant. 




·         During the next few weeks, use your analytics to answer at least one of your top five business questions identified in Challenge #3.

·         During the next few weeks, encourage the use of analytics to support decision-making related to the top four problematic subject areas identified in Challenge #3.

·         Also review the KPIs and benchmarks identified in Challenge #3 for effectiveness. Do they provide a solid foundation for performance management?


Comments and Hints

Basic Level:  The purpose of Challenge #3 was to set the goals for your analytics, thus the analytics you chose to perform should have been relevant to the top five business questions identified. If your analytics do not provide an answer to any of these questions, then it would be prudent to redo Challenges #4 through #9 to enable you answer at least one of the top five business questions.

Advanced Level:  Data-driven decision-making should be encouraged at all levels within the organization, especially when it comes to problematic subject areas. One way to enhance encouragement would be to share analytics-related success stories from within the organization.

Collaboration Forum

I encourage you to participate by commenting on the newsletter posts or via our forum, 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.