People + Tech = Actionable Insight

How Tech and People Turn Data Into Action

Sweet victory awaits companies that can close the gap between data collection and data action. Finding, scrubbing, analyzing and visualizing data is dirty work. And most health and fitness companies don’t budget for a team of six-figure data scientists or an IBM Watson computer.

Yes, actionable insight is elusive. Let’s discover how tech and people can help you capture more of it.

Data Mindset

Putting your data into action requires a plan and patience. And data science is a team sport, not the work of a math prodigy with elite programming skills working in a closet. In fact, gaining actionable insight should be a company-wide initiative. Data is a mindset.

Health and fitness companies are in a unique position to collect a lot of good data. From sign-up to fitness assessments, from social media to full-service amenities, data breadth and data volume are at your disposal. The key is making data work for you to improve customer experiences, achieve business goals and save money.

Systems of Intelligence

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella thinks data-driven success is more of a cultural thing, found somewhere at the intersection of technology, people and processes.

Central to his keynote speech at Microsoft’s 2015 Convergence conference, Nadella says intelligence must be added to the data layer in the form of smarter operating systems and cloud deployments, advanced customer engagement tools, and people and processes empowered to drive better outcomes.

Nadella named his vision "Systems of Intelligence." Where can I get some?

Let’s focus on how technology and people, together, can deliver actionable insight. Because without those two working in sync there will be no data-driven processes.

Technology

Effective data practitioners rely less on tools and more on methodology. Framing the business problem, developing a hypothesis, gathering good data, applying analytics, and testing the results is a proven approach for any technology stack.

Microsoft and other vendors are working hard to make self-service tools that allow anyone to access and analyze data. That’s the point. Statisticians and programmers aren’t the ones closest to the business. Since business users need the insight to take action, vendors know technology can’t be a barrier.

Business Intelligence (BI) applications with interactive dashboards are now mainstream. Open-source technologies enable distributed computing for massive datasets, as well as search and indexing of unstructured data. APIs now do artificial intelligence. And the cloud sweeps it all up at commodity prices.

Finding the right tools for the data job was once a problem. No longer.

  • Data Driven, an O’Reilly Media ebook, offers this advice for choosing data tools and technology:
  • • The best tools are powerful.
  • • The best tools are easy to use and learn.
  • • The best tools support teamwork.
  • • The best tools are beloved by the community.

What about the data?

Data is all around us: CRM, SQL, web and social analytics platforms, email, open-data sources, on and on. Both from internal and external sources, we now have plenty of data.

What’s next?

Start with a problem unique to one department. Then link applicable data sources to that business problem and experiment.

Ultimately, the most creative applications of data will uncover the deepest insight.

Data acquisition is not glamorous, but it shouldn’t be a roadblock.

People

Not everyone needs to spin machine-learning algorithms from scratch, but everyone needs to be comfortable working with data.

Again, building a data-driven culture takes time. It also takes training and reinforcement. According to McKinsey, "adjusting cultures and mindsets typically requires a multifaceted approach that includes training, role modeling by leaders, and incentives and metrics to reinforce behavior."

Ok, your lifeguards and line cooks may be exempt, but your managers and customer-facing employees would benefit greatly from a crash course in analytics. Then give them systems access and reinforce how actionable insight solves problems and generates opportunities.

Ways to weave analytics into your daily operations:

Make it personal

Aligning data projects with your business goals - using software designed for health and fitness - makes the data work more relevant. The more your applications look and feel like health and fitness, the more excited your employees will be to access and navigate data to a meaningful end.

Open your data

Think about making your company data more transparent. Democratizing your data allows people without serious data chops to see things the experts might miss. Facebook did this and found employees armed with more data respond quicker to market changes.

It’s our business

Fitness is the perfect use case for data. As training becomes more personalized, trainers, coaches and nutritionists are using data analytics to measure performance and recovery. Wearables and other fitness gadgets help make data more human.

Check your dashboard

Modern CEOs wake up and check the numbers, often from a data visualization. From sales to service, extending club performance to those who can make a difference is just good business. Today, analytics software is customizable and data is displayed in real-time. Mobile devices and smooth user interfaces have only enhanced our relationship with data.

Can’t tell your X from your Y axis? Who cares? With recent advances in data visualization, a PhD in statistics is no longer required.

Machines need humans

Remember, we’re still in a people business where experience counts. Humans make weather simulation models less and less wrong, and the most data-driven baseball teams still employ scouts to evaluate talent.

Certainly, Satya Nadella’s "Systems of Intelligence" is a broad catchphrase from the future. But his intent rings true today. Actionable insight is all about humans using easy tools to solve problems and engineer better outcomes.

About CSI Software

CSI Software provides fully integrated, single source health and fitness club management software to health and fitness clubs, campus recreation centers, parks and recreation facilities, wellness centers and hotels and fitness resorts, as well as JCC, YMCA and YWCA organizations. We are the standard for management software helping to improve customer relationships, cut costs, and make more money.

Empower your members to book, register, and schedule from their phones with CSI Software's mobile app.


People + Tech = Actionable Insight

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