To get more out of your data strategy, take a page out of the stadium playbook

To get more out of your data strategy, take a page out of the stadium playbook

Carmelo Calafiore, ANZ Regional Director at Extreme Networks, discusses how enterprises have more in common with sports and entertainment venue operators than they might think.

Carmelo Calafiore, ANZ Regional Director at Extreme Networks

Australian and New Zealand businesses bought into the value of data, analytics and data science early, setting up experiments, drawing up strategies and making it a goal to find and unlock hidden value in network data. Large historical datasets and real-time generated data, when run through an analytics model, promise to identify patterns and help businesses predict what might happen next. 

But despite the effort and investment to date, many businesses still need to achieve that full vision for data. For most businesses, data still has only an ‘intermediate’ influence on decisions being made. 

Analyst firm, Gartner, among others, sees now as the time to raise the stakes. “Now is the time to anticipate, adapt and scale the value of your data and analytics strategy by monitoring, experimenting with or aggressively investing in key data and analytics technology trends based on their urgency and alignment to business priorities,” said Rita Sallam, VP Analyst, Gartner.

Still, there are bright spots – and specific sectors – that have performed well in capturing the full potential of their real-time and historical data reserves. Sports and entertainment venues, including stadiums and arenas, are one such industry sector. 

Venues’ ability to leverage rich network data to drive successful outcomes sets them apart from other industries. Network data typically encompasses behind-the-scenes data from an enterprise network, such as the number and type of clients connected and traffic details; location data, such as how long a device (user) stays in a particular area; how people use apps and websites on the network; and data from other intelligent devices on the network, such as IoT sensors or Wi-Fi phones.

Crucially for a conversation about data in a broader business context, it turns out that these types of venues have data requirements similar to those of other enterprise businesses, which makes them a good case study for the breadth and depth of business decision-making that can be optimized by making use of network data.

Examining network data use

The data requirements of sports and entertainment venues are varied and ever-changing but can be grouped into a set of common themes, similar to the needs of most other enterprises. These are: benchmarking, experimental, governance and security and direct monetization.

From a benchmarking perspective, network data provides valuable insights for creating baselines and comparing business trends over time. By utilizing network flow data analytics, organizations can track metrics such as the number of clients, traffic, app usage and location hotspots, which can be compared event-to-event, day-to-day and seasonally or year-over-year. 

Benchmarking allows for the measurement of variability between sites, an understanding of how guest preferences change over time and the identification of web usage trends. This information can assist organizations in making better decisions regarding ad placement, sponsorships, concessions and other ways to connect with customers. It also serves as a qualitative anchor for business decisions.

Network data also supports more experimental use cases in these environments. Technology evolves rapidly and high-performing businesses constantly experiment with new technology solutions and gather data to measure their effectiveness. Using network data, such as application adoption, time spent on the app and location metrics, businesses can evaluate the success of experimental mobile app features and evaluate how users respond to advertisements. 

Businesses can use network data, including metrics on entry and exit flows in the mobile application, to assess how changes to these processes affect congestion and wait times. Other network data, such as the types of operating systems in use, can influence decisions on which devices and ecosystems to prioritize when experimenting with new technologies.

Every business has data governance and security concerns. Network data allows for the monitoring and enforcement of governance priorities. It also provides information on dimensions such as roles, devices, SSIDs, locations and time of day, which can be used to profile security vulnerabilities and swiftly take appropriate action.

The fourth major data need – and indeed one that will interest many organizations, given trends in data and insights brokerage in Australia and New Zealand – is direct monetization. The data a network collects can lead to new revenue streams. By analyzing data on how people use certain apps and websites, for example, businesses can find potential partners and opportunities for advertising. This data can also help guide a business development strategy or be monetized directly through data exchanges, which enable data assets and insights to be shared with others.

Like venues, a broad spectrum of businesses can similarly use network data for standard network uses, such as gaining insights on location and presence, IT operations and social engagement, as well as for solving business problems related to networks. 

One of the key reasons to do so is to measure and improve customer experience (CX). This is perhaps the most important trend in network analytics due to its real-world benefits. With the help of maturing AIOps solutions (including machine-generated dashboards), businesses are monitoring user network experience (for example, connection process, application issues, wait times) in an effort to optimize networks for visitor satisfaction, employee productivity and operating continuity. In doing so, they’re demonstrating the bright future of those who can harness the power of their network data.

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