Doors open in 15 minutes. Which of your staff are in position, in route, or not even in the building yet? What percentage of staff in position is acceptable to proceed with, and how would you verify this in real-time—or after your event if the need arose?
One of the goals of Big Data: How to Measure Success—a VenueConnect session sponsored by eTix and led by Gil Fried, chair and professor of the sports management department at the University of New Haven, and Russell Mucklow, chief executive at AwareManager—was to explore a framework that venue managers can use to develop a smart, data-driven approach to successful operations.
How to Think with Data
Mucklow walked session attendees through a five-step process intended to guide venue managers toward meaningful, data-driven thinking.
So, back to the doors opening in 15 minutes and staff needing to be in position. Here is how that issue might make its way through the process outlined in the presentation:
Step 1: What are you assessing?
In this case, you want to know if enough key staff are in position before doors open.
Step 2: What data do you need to support this?
To answer this question, you will need to be able to identify team members, track specific locations within the venue, and know times associated with those locations.
Step 3: How will you capture this data?
Continuing with our staffing question, what processes and tools are needed to gather the data needed? An access control/credentialing system that identifies staff members and captures check-in times at key locations established within (or outside of) your venue, and a Web-portal or mechanism for real-time visibility and reporting.
Step 4: How will the data be validated and analyzed?
As you gather the data on staff positions and check-in times, a system will need to be in place to build accurate, accessible records. With consistent information, patterns can be identified to assist with benchmarking, goals, and management strategies. If you find that at a typical event, 90 percent of your key staff are in-position five minutes before doors open, a plan to move toward 90 percent at 10 minutes before doors opening becomes realistic, measurable, and logical for your venue.
Step 5: Have you been successful?
With a process in place, you are now equipped to measure this aspect of your operations with consistent, accurate data that supports your criteria for success. Staff expectations are clear to everyone, goals are attainable and measurable, and everyone understands what success looks like.
During the session, Fried and Mucklow applied this step-by-step process to a spectrum of areas within venue management, showing that everything from truck deliveries to the maintenance of a playing surface can be aligned to specific, data-driven measurements. This is critical, not only for accurately defining success, but also for defending consistent, validated operations as an extension of your risk management strategy.
Five Steps, Not So Simple
Defining success with data sounded tidy and objective, but part of what makes data reliable is its ability to withstand the nuances and variables that must be accounted for when measuring. As Mucklow outlined in the session introduction, variables such as your venue type, attendee demographics, event duration, weather, and a particularly high-profile event (like a rivalry) inevitably affect the data you’re capturing, and accounting for this is an essential aspect of ensuring that your correlations and predictions are informed and reasonable. Did an ice storm hit on that day when only 60 percent of staff members made it to their positions on time? How should that be factored into your analysis of overall patterns and trends for this objective?
Gathering data—and getting reliable, actionable information out of it—is a massive mountain to climb, and one attendee at the end of the session spoke for most everyone in the room when they shared that they were “now sufficiently overwhelmed.” There is no question that the future of facility management will move deeper into the world of big data, and the challenge for everyone is to effectively navigate through the swarm of data-points streaming into your venue.
One step forward would be to contact our session presenters for more information and guidance on building a data-driven approach to your operations.
Another way forward is to keep an eye on VenueConnect 2016 (July 23-25, Minneapolis, Minnesota), where future sessions on using big data will continue to provide venue managers with a view into the swarm, and connections to the experts and thinkers that will help us get through it.