Making analytics more approachable with Data Visualization

At the Analytic Hospitality Executive, we have been focused on creating strategic analytic cultures in hospitality organizations. Last week I took a deeper dive into information management, and what can be done to get your data in shape and flowing around your enterprise. This week we are taking a closer look at how to make your analytics more approachable with data visualizations.

So, what is Data Visualization?

Data visualization is the representation of data in a pictorial or graphical format. The purpose of data visualization is to simplify and promote the understanding of data values, and communicate important concepts and ideas.  Data visualization gives business users the ability to use information intuitively, without deep technical or analytic expertise.

Analytic skills are in short supply.

Let’s face it – in hospitality organizations analytical skills are often in short supply. Moving forward, in the US it is estimated that demand for deep analytical resources will be 50 percent higher than the supply by 2018[1]. As a result, hospitality organizations will need to figure out a way to make analytics more approachable, so that analytics become more accessible to more parts of the business. Data visualization can help – tools that make pervasive use of visualization make it easier for non-technical personnel to “see” the point of even complex analysis.

Data visualizations enable non-technical users to experience and share “aha moments” with an impact unmatched by static graphs, spreadsheets or reports. They allow a user to move from simply collecting and reporting data to deriving business insights from that data. Advanced data visualizations can support more in-depth and complex analytics. A visual tier that sits on top of the analytics program lets users view the results of complex analytics in a format that is easy to digest.

With the right exploration and visualization tools in place, more people in more departments across your organization will be empowered to take advantage of your data and analytics. At the same time, your analysts can focus their efforts on solving the tougher analytic questions, versus preparing and reporting data. However, it is important that the data visualization tools you choose are robust and dynamic. You will need fast answers, drill-down capability and exploration capabilities to meet all of the dynamic needs of a hospitality organization.

Example of a data visualization for slot machines in a Casino

Speed to insight, and better results.

Analyzing data and displaying the results with graphs and charts makes patterns, trends and outliers easily visible.  Analytic visualizations are critical to gaining fast insights from your data. If sophisticated analyses can be performed quickly, even immediately, and results presented in ways that showcase patterns and allow for querying and exploration, people across all levels of your organization can understand and derive value from massive amounts of data faster than ever before.

Faster insights also drive better results. A recent article from McKinsey refers to the tangible benefits companies are already seeing “when companies inject data and analytics deep into their operations, they can deliver productivity and profit gains that are 5 to 6 percent higher than those of the competition”.  Not only that, an IDG Research survey conducted as part of a SAS and CIO Marketplace research report identified that,  of those organizations that are considering using data visualization, 77% of respondents cite improved decision making as a top benefit, while 45% cite better ad-hoc data analysis and 44% cite improved collaboration.

Data Visualization is an important part of the journey to a achieving a strategic analytic culture at your organization. Using data visualizations to put analytics in the hands of more and more people in your organization can help drive you towards a strategic analytic culture. How are you using data visualizations in your daily operations?

[1] Sources: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Census, Dun & Bradstreet: company interviews, McKinsey Global Institute analysis.

2 Trackbacks

  1. [...]   Natalie also helped us understand how data and analytics can be made more approachable through data visualization.  Alex Dietz joined us to give examples of big data in revenue management, and the opportunities [...]

  2. […] use of data to support your argument. I wrote an article that might be helpful, and Natalie has blogged about this as […]

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    We’re hospitality industry specialists at SAS, the world’s leader in business intelligence and analytical software. We’ve partnered with The Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University to find solutions to hospitality industry challenges. In this blog we will leverage the existing knowledge of the faculty, existing research and the experience of industry peers to answer the questions that hospitality executives face every day. Questions regarding topics such as revenue management and price optimization, social media analysis, sustainability, patron/guest lifetime value optimization, labor planning and marketing automation and optimization.
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