At the recent MURTEC Restaurant Next event, RMS Chief Strategy Officer Joel Davis shared his views on using data to enhance customer service, loyalty and revenue. In today’s episode Center Reach Communication’s Tracy Henderson sits down with Joel to discuss this further.
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Tracy Henderson: Welcome back to our new webinar series, Revenue Stream with RMS. I’m Tracy Henderson, I’m the founder of Center Reach Communications, and I’m here with Dr. Joel Davis, who’s the chief strategy officer at Revenue Management Solutions. Joel oversees emerging analytics and data for RMS, and he sets the vision for the teams who work with some of the world’s most successful hospitality, retail, and restaurant brands. He holds a PhD from University of Florida and is teaching an undergrad course right now on using AI for business. Thanks for being here, Joel. Dr. Joel Davis: Thanks for having me, Tracy. Tracy Henderson: So to start out, why and how are people using data in these very pivotal times? Dr. Joel Davis: Yeah, that’s a good question, Tracy. And I think this pandemic has really appended a brand’s notion of its data and how it can use it in its business. I like to think of data as having a half-life. That’s the amount of time required before a given data point or a metric has lost half of its usefulness to a particular brand to help make decisions. And one of the things that’s happened with this pandemic is that the half-life of data and its usability has shrunk dramatically. Prior to this, brands could be thinking about using data from six months ago, 12 months ago, 24 months ago, even three or four years ago, but now that half-life of data is much shorter. So brands need to be cognizant of the fact that they need to be collecting data much faster than they did before, but brands need to be cognizant of the fact that the data that they’re collecting is not useful for as long as it was. And so the decisions they’re making have to made much faster. Tracy Henderson: So what do you feel are the data points that brands should be using right now, and in what timeframe? Dr. Joel Davis: Yeah, I think businesses really need to carefully consider their decision support models. Those are the decision-making systems that they have that are fed by these data systems that the brands have built up over years, and they need to consider whether those systems are still useful for making decisions in these particular times. Maybe one example of that would be the rise of certain types of channels, like QR codes or delivery channels. And where those who have not been integrated into these decision support systems with brands before, they certainly need to be now. Just like businesses, customers have gone through a massive disruption and their behavior has fundamentally changed. So if there was ever a time to do a deep dive on every way that a customer interacts with you, that time is now. Tracy Henderson: That’s great advice, Joel, but what do operators do if they feel too busy or unprepared to use data and the insights that it gathers? Dr. Joel Davis: I think it’s common to think about acting on insights or acting on your data and being data-driven as being something you do when you sit down behind a computer or you sit in a team meeting and discuss the latest metric. But when operators are really struggling, when they’re just treading water and trying to keep their business afloat, they don’t feel like they have time for all that extra work. I think those businesses need to feel a little bit less stressed about having to act analytically and act on their data all the time. Instead, they just need to create a plan, maybe even a simple plan to collect as much data as they can and just ensure that they’re not throwing any of this new data, for example, this QR data, away. And then go find a partner to help them with the analytics. Tracy Henderson: Yeah, speaking of planning during these pivotal times, what do you foresee in the months and year ahead? Dr. Joel Davis: Well, restaurants are going to continue to push forward with this digital transformation. I think in prior years, I would have said that restaurants were significantly behind other retailers in their digital transformation efforts. And I think they’ve caught up quite a bit just in the last six months because they’ve had to. It’s a matter of survival. So I think we’re going to continue to see innovation with things like QR codes and drive-throughs and different delivery channels in the restaurant industry. Tracy Henderson: Well, I know you and your team at Revenue Management Solutions have been doing some heavy lifting to get the right kinds of data for your clients to use going into the future. Can you tell us a little bit about that? Dr. Joel Davis: Sure. So we’ve really ramped up a lot of our research efforts. Whereas before we may have tried to pull the consumers once every two or three months, we’re now doing so on a weekly basis and feeding that information back to our clients regularly. Beyond those research projects, we’ve always believed in giving back to the community as well. And so we work with a number of universities like the University of South Florida, University of Florida, University of Guelph, and North Carolina State University to mentor and coach the next generation of data scientists and analysts. Tracy Henderson: Well, this has been great, Joel. I understand the full download of your presentation can be found on Revenue Management Solutions blog, which is www.revenuemanage.com\\blog. Thanks so much for your time today. Dr. Joel Davis: Yeah, thanks so much for talking with me. Also on that blog, you should be seeing some more information about some upcoming research we’re doing on consumers and consumer behavior patterns and a little bit more on those QR codes, which are becoming so important now for restaurants. Tracy Henderson: Great. You can find out about the next Revenue Stream with RMS episode by following Revenue Management Solutions on LinkedIn, Twitter, or by checking back on their website, revenuemanage.com. Thanks for joining us today.