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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

We should all be data scientists... like my mom

I recently interviewed Dave Turner, CEO of Hitachi Vantara Federal, for an episode of our Project 38 podcast. He told me about a data project the company is involved with at Disney World. They are helping to collect and process a wide range of data from sensors placed on rides and lines and other areas of the park.

The goal is to continue to improve the customer experience by being smarter about maintenance, anticipating load requirements and understanding how people move through the park.

It’s high tech stuff, but as he spoke I couldn’t help but think about my mother and the restaurant days back in Luray, Virginia.

I’ve talked about my mom and the restaurant before but it bears repeating. My mom was a copious record keeper. She kept a bound calendar and would track number of meals served, weather conditions, events at the restaurant and outside events, such as if there was a Redskins game. (This was the Joe Gibbs era, after all.) In the Fall, she even tracked how what stage the autumn colors were in.

She knew that multiple factors could impact traffic to the restaurant and being able to look back helped her look forward. The data played into decisions on ordering and staffing. It helped her anticipate what was coming.

She was a data scientist and didn’t even know it. If technology wasn’t an issue, she’d fit right in with Turner’s team at Hitachi Vantara and Disney.

I tell this story today as reminder. As we barrel forward with new technologies and new ways to leverage data, it is important to remember that the technology isn’t the important part. If my mom was still in the restaurant business today, she likely keep her diary on a device and probably realize there are other data points that technology would allow her to collect.

But that doesn’t matter because her focus would be on her customer and running her business more efficiently. Just like it is for your government customers.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jan 23, 2020 at 9:42 AM

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