Using Data & Analytics To Plan Your Perfect Ski Trip

Marcel Mathis our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 4/4/2019 8:55 AM
The Ski season may be drawing to a close, but it’s never too early to start planning for next year. Born and raised in the mountains of Austria, I have been skiing all of my life. For me, it’s about freedom, enjoying the views and forgetting about everything else. 

But, since I’ve stepped into the world of Data & Analytics, I started to asked myself “what can I learn from my work that I can apply to my skiing”? After having a look around, I began to discover ways in which Data could support my passion. I’ve pulled together some of the most interesting things I’ve discovered and created this handy guide to help you prepare for your next trip.

Here’s how you can use data to create the perfect ski trip. 

Follow the snow


Anyone who has skied before knows about the uncertainty before a trip. Will there be enough snow? Will the weather be good? Which resort is the most suited to my ability? Fortunately, somebody has already pulled this information together for you. Two "web spiders" were built via Scrapy, a Python framework used for data extraction, the first of which extracted ski resort data. The second spider, on the other hand, extracted daily snowfall data for each resort (2009 - present).

After collecting Data from more than 600 ski resorts and spitting it into 7 main regions, the spiders were able to form a conclusion. The framework then pulled out key metrics, including the difficulty of runs, meaning that skiers are now able to decide which resort is most suitable for their ability. 

As for the weather, onthesnow.com has recorded snowfall data from all major resorts, every year since 2009. We all know that good snow makes any trip better, so the collected data here will help skiers ensure they are prepared for the right weather, or even plan their trip around where the snow will be best. 

Optimise your skis


Ski manufacturing is a refined and complicated process, with each ski requiring many different materials to be built. Unfortunately, this often results in the best skis running out quickly as supply outspeeds demand.  To help speed up and improve the process, companies are implementing technologies like IBM Cognos* that monitor entire supply chains so that no matter how much demand increases, they have the materials to meet it.  

Additionally, since the majority of companies have become more data-driven, production time has been reduced by weeks. Predictions for future demand has also become 50% more accurate, resulting in a drop of 30% idle time on production lines.

Skip the Queue


Tired of queuing for the ski lift? There’s good news. As they begin to make the most of data, ski resorts are introducing RFID* (Radio Frequency Identification) systems. These involve visitors purchasing cards with RFID chips included, allowing them to skip queues at the lifts as there is no need to check for fake passes. The data can then be utilised for gamification platforms to turn a skier’s time on the slopes into an interactive experience. 

The shift towards Big Data not only has advantages for the visitors, but the management are also benefiting. In the past, it has been difficult to analyse skier’s data. Now, with automated and proper data management, the numbers can be crunched seamlessly and marketing campaigns can be directed at how people actually choose to ski.  

Carve a Better Technique


Skiing isn’t always easy, especially if you haven’t grown up with it. Usually, ski instructors are the solution but, in the age of Data & Analytics, there are other solutions. Jamie Grant and co-founder Pruthvikar Reddy have created an app called Carv 2.0, which allows you to be your own teacher. It works by using a robust insert that fits between the shell of your ski boots and the liner. It then gathers data from 48 pressure sensitive pads, and nine motion sensors. 

This data is fed to a connected match-box size tracker unit, sitting on the back of your boots, before being relayed via Bluetooth to the Carv App on your phone. Carv can then measure your speed, acceleration and ski orientation a staggering 300 times a second.  Thanks to a complex set of algorithms this data is then converted into an easy to follow graphic display on your phone’s screen as well as verbal feedback from Carvella. The accuracy of this real-time data could make it a better instructor than any individual person. 

Data & Analytics are helping streamline every part of our lives. Whilst the above can’t guarantee a perfect ski trip, they can help us minimise risks and optimize our performance and experience. 

If you’re able to use data to improve day-to-day living, we may have a role for you. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with our expert consultants.  

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MARKETING INSIGHT AND THE CUSTOMER FEEDBACK LOOP

Marketing Insight And The Customer Feedback Loop

As the holidays approach, Marketers are focusing more than ever on User Experience (UX). They’re not only looking at what kind of product customers might want or need but how will it look and feel to them? If a product doesn’t have what you need or doesn’t function as appealingly as others, what good is it? Key elements such as aesthetics, usability, and ‘feel’ are integral to the user experience. Because these elements come from such seemingly disparate departments as Marketing and Developers, it’s important to figure out how to come together for the ultimate UX. After all, if today’s buyers buy experiences over tangible products, then ensuring the experience is important to bridging the gap between customers, marketers, and developers. This, when done right, helps to build and retain customer relationships; the foundations upon which business is built. Design User Experience with M&D By bringing marketers and developers (M&D) together, you create the opportunity for innovation. But there are some key elements to consider when designing UX and it follows four stages. Do your research. Identify needs, spending patterns, buying behaviours, and historical data to determine what it is customers desire. Find out what they want or need and give it to them. This is the role of the marketer backed by development.Gather the data. Using multiple touch points across multiple sources and channels, find what works. What product offers usability and determine how design choices can help to create a seamless experience for your customer.Design your idea and create a prototype. Brainstorm your design. What are its product features, user interface, and aesthetics? Does it look user friendly? Would you pick it up off the shelf? Why? What is it about the product that makes you want to have it? What problems can it solve for you?Time to Test it. Is your product user friendly? What are its useful functions? How does it look? Feel? Incorporate feedback to improve its performance, function, or aesthetic. What does your test market say? Would they buy it? Why or why not? Bridging the Gap with collaboration We can forget sometimes, lost in our jargon and our buzzwords, that it’s the customer who we hope will benefit from our product or service. Yet, traditionally, marketers gathered customer preferences and drove sales, while developers designed products based on those preferences. However, the two departments were often siloed and creativity, usability, function, and aesthetics either got overshadowed or underrepresented to varying degrees. Enter customer feedback an integral point of reference for all parties involved. Customers are at the heart of user experience and it’s their feedback which can inform the user experience. What better marketing insights than those straight from the customer? Working with Marketers and Developers, customers provide a crucial component to helping marketers understand market dynamics. On the flip side, customer feedback can help mitigate risk or issues down the road by providing solutions and helping to resolve problems. the impact on Product Development By conducting user experience testing, marketers and developers can determine if a product is a good fit for customer needs. At the same time, they may identify issues to be resolved which can be learned of in real-time for a better user experience once the product is launched. Each has their role to play in designing the user experience and contributing to market insights for more informed business decisions.  These include: Marketers are part of the design experience from conception to inception. They are responsible for gathering the data to identify problem areas, working with Developers to create a product or service to solve a problem, and gathering data from the customer. Do they like this product? Why? What pain points does it serve? And how can it be made better or improved? Developers are the designers. They must take the information the marketers have collected and try to make the product into something functional and aesthetically-pleasing. Though they operate more at the back-end, they too much collaborate with customers to capture issues and solve problems. Developers test the products, making improvements as needed. Each stage a constant in UX design.Customers offer invaluable data and metrics through their feedback and reviews. The insights they contain as the end user about using the product, revealing its challenges, and suggesting room for improvement, make this three-part collaboration the final link in the chain between marketers, developers, and customers when it comes to designing the ultimate user experience. If you’re interested in the relationship between insights and UX, we may have a role for you. Check out our current opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to learn more. 

Integrate Your Data And Business Strategies For Success

Why You Need To Integrate Your Data and Business Strategies

United we stand, together we fall. Not too put too fine a point to it, but how your business and data strategies align are integral to your business. Today’s world is about change, being able to pivot toward new strategies, and being open to trying new things. Consider this: the “mom-and-pop” shop is back and it is flourishing. Younger generations of farmers are returning to their family farms when they graduate and they’re bringing new knowledge with them. And the makerspace, freelance, and gig economies are thriving. These businesses are learning how to work with technology and align their Data Strategy with their Business strategy. Some legacy enterprises are taking notice. Others are missing the mark. Consumers may have changed how they want to shop and learn about services and products, but the services they want and expect haven’t changed that much which is why it’s more important than ever to “know your customer.”  3 Key Elements of Integrated Strategies While there are a number of things to take into consideration as you align your strategies, these three key elements can help get you started. 1. Understand the key elements of Business Strategy. 2. Apply innovation strategy to business objectives. 3. Determine key elements of your Data Strategy for use in a real-world scenario. Understand the key elements of business strategy  A business strategy encapsulates two main ideas; cost advantage versus competition. The cost advantage includes costs and other resources, identification and awareness of strengths, weaknesses, and competition. Competitive advantage happens when you’ve done your market research and can show what makes you different from any other provider with similar goods and services. This is the time you might perform a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunity, and threat) analysis of your business. It’s helpful to include your mission and vision statements, objectives, core values, risk tolerance, and understanding trends in your business. Apply Innovation Strategy to Business Objectives Ideas and innovation flow when you and your business understand your customers and are able to easily shift into new things. Think R&D into Bioinformatics, automated tasks into AI, or a platform such as streaming services to help sell services such as insurance. Laying the groundwork to apply innovation strategies to your business objectives follow these ideas: Identify your business objectives by asking questions.Assess the budget and personnel resources and develop a budget strategy.Test the market to determine what issues will or need to be solved and understand how this innovation will benefit your overall strategy. If you’re working on a Data initiative to integrate into your Business strategy, one of the key elements is to determine how those changes may affect your business. Determine Key Elements of Data Strategy for Use in Real-World Scenarios As you work on developing your Data Strategy, it’s important to consider all the elements required to ensure success. So, what do you need to take into consideration when working on this type of strategy? Here are some things to consider as you develop your framework. Determine your business needs and their current state.Determine what works and what can be improved upon if there is a technology improvement or process.Evaluate your Data from sales, profit, and evaluate your progress.}Develop an action plan. Many businesses don’t incorporate just one type of Data into their strategy. They consider the potential impact of technologies such as Machine Learning, Predictive and Data Analytics, and other Big Data Strategies to drive improvements when it comes to decision making. They understand these Data-driven insights can help them improve or solve their most critical problems. There is a caveat, however, and it is how you collect the information for real-world scenarios. Certain requirements are in place for a reason and they ensure only relevant Data is collected. This is done by formulating “predictive models” and necessary information to operate and determine whether your case will be something to be done over time or if it’s something brand new to consider when looking at real-time access. One Final Thought… Data-centric organisations have a distinct advantage over their competition. The information gained from collecting and analysing to understanding their customers can offer great insight as to what’s working and what isn’t. Integrating your Business Strategy with a Data Strategy can offer you a more well-rounded understanding of the customers you serve and can ultimately, help you to serve them better; now and in the future. Disruptive business models from this way of thinking can also foster growth and lead to innovative changes in your marketplace. If you want to be at the forefront of change we may have a role or candidate for you. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more.

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