I got into technology in high school when I won the science fair and earned a college scholarship for the development of a software program that enabled gamers to play a virtual game of football, with outcomes based on multiple variables such as down, distance, field position, roster selection and play selection by each player.
I started my career doing political polling and fundraising, which was marginally more fun than my previous jobs bagging groceries, running jackhammers and roofing in the hot Virginia summers (none of these roles were nearly as much fun as DJ’ing parties to pay for college).
Eventually, I moved to California in a sales role as part of the start-up sales team of a new boutique hotel company that came to be known as Ritz-Carlton. During my hotel career, I was involved in a few innovation initiatives that used technology as a differentiator: the development of Ritz-Carlton’s prototype revenue management technology and the roll-out of dynamic pricing strategies for Starwood and Four Seasons hotels in North America. I also created the first contract bundling strategy for multi-year convention sales at Wyndham, Marriott and MGM Resorts, and an online portal for RFP creation, bidding, budgeting and analytics.
In 1994, I founded and grew a consulting firm that used industry-leading analytics to advise Fortune 500 firms on travel expense management and broker their meetings negotiations, eventually controlling the award of more than $350M in convention contracts. I sold that company in 2009.
Two things: The Internet of Things (IoT) and the democratization of advanced analytics, sometimes referred to as “self-service analytics.”
IoT is already here and is creating opportunities for networking, storage, compute and new delivery mechanisms for automated actions, i.e. applied prescriptive analytics, which is driven by algorithms that will form important IP for innovative companies.
Democratized analytics occurs in organizations that see value from Big Data initiatives and want to broaden the application of insights across the company. Maturing Big Data cultures want to empower as many people as possible in their organizations to take advantage of Big Data flows. This leads to smarter decisions across the company and creates a virtuous cycle of innovation, empowerment, operational improvements and stronger customer engagement.