Travel – where big business meets big data
Without Al-Chwarizmi, Silicon Valley would be irrelevant. The name of this Arabian mathematician from the 9th century is the origin of the term algorithm, the system of defined steps which computers execute and which has changed our world.
NB: This is a viewpoint by Gerd Otto-Rieke, a consultant for ITB Berlin eTravel World.
The power of social networks and search engine providers is based on their ability to interpret mass data with algorithms. That’s a real science, because the masses of data in question are huge and complex, change constantly and have hardly any structure. The trick is to read these big data coffee grounds.
As before with small data analytics, companies hope to end up with new competitive advantages.
There is no question the corporate world will work with big data more and more. While doing so, processing speed and storage capacity explode. That has effects on strategies, products and processes. Chances are that companies dealing intelligently with big data will be more successful than those who do not.
And at the same time, data scientists are developing new algorithms offering different ways to analyse and interpret the data.
But big data will succeed within the company only if management leads the way and adjusts internal structures.
Following digital footprints
Business travelers are leaving more and more digital traces. They travel globally, with mobile devices and are active on social media.
These footprints occur before, during and after a trip. They can be alphanumerical bits of information such as details about purchases and payments and location; they can be pictures and videos; they can be loyalty scheme habits.
Hardly any other sector knows more about its clientele than the travel industry, and this information can now be saved and stored.
Marketing departments are using these bits and bytes of information in silos rather than trying to co-ordinate customer data.
Unsorted data is thrown together with information about weather, health risks and more, then dumped in the cloud. These gigantic storage complexes are the big infrastructure projects of our time, comparable to Hoover Dam or Golden Gate Bridge.
Data security, safety and privacy are more than buzzwords – if a traveler wants to benefit from big data he must decide which private data to expose and which he would rather not, several times a day, often with little choice in the matter. It can be hard to avoid tracking when visiting e-commerce site.
The age of data has arrived and the travel industry – to say nothing of the world at large – needs time to adjust.
NB2: If you are interested in such aspects of the future don’t miss ITB Berlin eTravel World, taking place from March 9th to 12th, 2016.
NB3: Image by Shutterstock