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How to Use Analytics to Avoid Business Problems

How to Use Analytics to Avoid Business Problems

Businesses have a lot of moving parts. Even on a good day things can go awry which cause disruption to operations and ultimately the end consumer. I like to call such disturbances “business turbulence”. The concept of “business turbulence” was inspired by a real-life interaction with an airline customer that was considering data silos to solve enterprise problems.

The concept is one we all can relate to when flying. Your plane encounters turbulence and you’re told to quickly make sure your seatbelts are buckled for the bumpy ride. If you’re lucky, you get a bit more advance notice that there will be turbulence in a few minutes. The ideal situation is when the pilot and FAA have been alerted to the turbulence way before it enters the flight path, allowing the pilot to gently route the plane around the rough air, with the passengers none the wiser. This is how you want your business to run – you want the visibility far enough ahead to avoid problems before they impact your customers or business.

The Data Behind the Question

How exactly does that happen? In the case of the airline, the “business turbulence” the company wanted to solve concerned late flights and missed connections. At first blush this situation seems easy. Find the late flight, find all the passengers that are on the flight, and manage their connections. In reality, things are not as simple as they may first appear.  First, there is the question of which customers get priority for rebooking. Do you prioritize those who have paid the most or those who fly with you most frequently? Do you give preference to the people flying with children?  Lots of questions arise that need data to provide answers.

But wait, there are more scenarios! If a plane is late, what about the connecting flight? Is the connecting flight on time? If not, then is it delayed enough that there is no issue? How close are the gates between connections? If the connecting flight is there, do they have crew and pilots available or are they also delayed? As you can see, the problem can become very complex, very quickly. In fact, one late plane can have ramifications across the entire airline organization.

To See All Your Business You Need All Your Data

To successfully address the situation, answers must be available long before your customers begin to realize there is a problem. A plane does not just “arrive late”, there is always something that caused a delay.  Did the plane take off late? If so, there is ample time to understand impacts, determine best case solutions, and take action.  Another factor to consider is what took place during the flight. The flight may have taken off on time, but due to weather it cannot fly at its normal speed. When flights fly outside their normal time window, questions can be asked, and insights garnered.  

It’s also important look at the other variables that impact flights. Crew, catering, baggage, maintenance and a multitude of operational aspects affect a plane’s timely operations. Secondary, and tertiary, factors surrounding the flight have to be part of the equation.

By understanding the issues and tracking backward, airlines begin to have hours instead of seconds to predict and respond most effectively to a late arrival or departure. When they can utilize all the data, it leads to more complete answers and solutions. These solutions result in a competitive advantage and better business outcomes.

Where Is Your Business Turbulence?

Keeping with the analogy, I invite you to take a look at your business and your key performance indicators.  Think about what drives these success measurements and actions can you take to positively influence those numbers. Now with that in mind, what data can you utilize to make better business decisions?  When can you know all of the information and factors ahead of time, you can predict and act before a situation emerges. Taking an iterative approach will allow you to ask the right questions, so you see your “turbulence” and respond before it delays your operations and affects your entire business.

The enterprise benefits you are able to ask the relevant questions, against all your data, with different types of analytics. This is what we call “Pervasive Data Intelligence”.   Many companies think this is impossible as they have data scattered all over the corporation.  This is where having the power of Teradata Vantage comes into play.   It integrates data, analytic functions, and tools into a single platform, and enables companies to manage all of the data, all of the time; so you can deliver analytics that matter.  With Vantage, your business has an edge, because you have visibility into things other companies can’t see. Vantage provides you with the answers that will help you achieve turbulence-free flying in no time.
Portrait of Rob Armstrong

Rob Armstrong

Starting with Teradata in 1987, Rob Armstrong has contributed in virtually every aspect of the data warehouse and analytical processing arenas. Rob’s work in the computer industry has been dedicated to data-driven business improvement and more effective business decisions and execution.  Roles have encompassed the design, justification, implementation and evolution of enterprise data warehouses.

In his current role, Rob continues the Teradata tradition of integrating data and enabling end-user access for true self-driven analysis and data-driven actions. Increasingly, he incorporates the world of non-traditional “big data” into the analytical process.  He also has expanded the technology environment beyond the on-premises data center to include the world of public and private clouds to create a total analytic ecosystem.

Rob earned a B.A. degree in Management Science with an emphasis in mathematics and relational theory at the University of California, San Diego. He resides and works from San Diego.

View all posts by Rob Armstrong

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