Industry Update
Opinion Article14 February 2017

SUPER Analytics

By Jeremy TerBush, SVP Analytics at Wyndham Destination Network

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Four years ago, we used SUPER Analytics as the theme for our Global Analytics team meeting. Four years can feel like a long time in analytics and technology. Much has changed in our space in the last four years, but I believe the SUPER approach is still, well, a super approach to thinking about how you should approach building analytical applications. Let's get into the details…

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  • S – Simple
  • U – Useful
  • P – Proactive
  • E – Expanding
  • R – Rewarding

S is for Simple.. Which may initially seem counterintuitive for a highly sophisticated analytical solution. Simple here refers to how you should deliver the solution. It should be as user-friendly and intuitive as possible for your client. This will ensure that they will actually use it. It can be crazy complex on the back end, and you should be very proud of the techniques and models that fuel the solution, but your client doesn't care, they just want an easy to use solution that helps them answer their hard problems. Focus on simplicity in delivery and in communication with your clients, and you'll drive much more business value.

U is for Useful.

Your super-cool solution that uses the most advanced cutting-edge techniques is totally useless if it doesn't address a real business need. Once you have your highly talented team in place and you're ready to build solutions, make sure you're spending time talking to the experts who really understand how business gets done to determine what help they need. Let this fuel your pipeline of projects. Analytics is only valuable if it's used. At the end of the day, it will get used if you're solving real problems that help people do their work better. It will not get used if you're publishing theoretical papers about elegant algorithms. As the great inventor Thomas Edison said, "Anything that won't sell, I don't want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success"

P is for Proactive. From my experience, analytical professionals are often not naturally proactive. Early in my career, I was squarely in this camp. I worked for a fantastic guy, Sean Lowe, who helped me see the value of being more proactive in identifying opportunities and pushing for new ways of thinking. He taught me that besides having the ability to build a killer analytical spreadsheet, we also have a unique view of the organization, which allows us to have insights that not everyone can see. These insights are valuable only if we identify them, act on them and propose change. Encourage your team to confidently drive change in your business.

E is for Expanding. Our team started with a very heavy focus on pricing solutions. These solutions have provided tremendous value across our brands. As we've developed a strong understanding of each of our businesses through delivering these solutions, we have established connections with key business stakeholders in other areas of the business who want to apply analytics to their functional areas. We are well-positioned to nimbly work in these new areas due to the foundation that we developed from our pricing solutions, both from a data and business knowledge perspective. Find the areas that will add value in the short-term in your organization, build a foundation, and you'll see demand come in from many other areas. Then your challenge will be deciding what will add the most value.

R is for Rewarding. Building great analytical solutions is highly rewarding for your team and for your clients. It is truly amazing what can be done with technology today. As analytics professionals, we have an expert view into these opportunities. Many of your clients have no concept of what can be done. . Part of your job is to show them the art of the possible. This, in itself, is rewarding. But rolling something out that truly changes the way that people work, well, that's just amazing. Your team's reward is in the pride that comes from seeing that you've improved someone's life and how they do their work. R is my favorite letter. We have had many rewarding moments over the years, truly improving how our business units work.

So, while much has changed in this fast-moving space of analytics, I believe the fundamental approach of SUPER analytics holds true just as much now as it did when we talked about it four years ago. It's a good lens to use as you look at your analytical opportunities within your organization. Have a SUPER year of analytical innovation!

Jeremy TerBush

Jeremy TerBush is Vice President of Global Analytics for Wyndham Exchange and Rentals (WER), a subsidiary of Wyndham Worldwide Corporation. The Analytics team develops and supports analytical products which are used throughout the WER business units. Jeremy joined WER in 2002. During his career at Wyndham he has held a variety of roles within Revenue Management, IT and Analytics.

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