For years the Territory has had a statistics and data problem, whereas valuable information that can influence important decisions was often unavailable or not up to date. However, the recent visit of Associate Professor Keith Carter of the National University of Singapore (Computing) for the FinTech Immersion Conference was an eye opener for businesses on how they can increase profitability with the use of data.
Carter who has worked for Fortune 500 companies such as Goldman Sachs (a leading global investment banking, securities and investment management institution) conveyed the message of data and business at the Rotary Club of Tortola – whose membership mainly consists of business professionals.
In presenting his message which basically centered on the technological approach to tourism and business, Carter said: “I think it all starts with a strategic business question – what is the key part of GDP that we want to grow?”
He talked about how businesses that offer complimentary wireless internet (WIFI) are by accident also collecting information from the user. Information, which he said can assist business planning.
In expanding on his point about information being shared via business WIFI, Carter said: “I say by accident because unless they do something with it — store it in some way then all they would be able to tell is – the restaurant down the road some people went there for dinner or if I coordinate with the financial services office I can see who is staying at my hotel.”
The Assistant Professor said, “I think that you have to start off with a question. I think for the BVI the question is how can I delight a tourist that comes here. If a tourist walks through the airport can we say welcome back, and hopefully welcome home; and by learning a bit more about them we can.”
From a business perspective, the professor said that entrepreneurs – in order to get the most out of data – should start with an object in mind, or a central question. “For business owners how do we use the information received to answer the question what is the next best thing to do in my business to delight my customers?” he told Rotarians.
After advising the audience on how data can be important to their profitability, the Professor warned that the business owners should employ tact when trying to gather this information.
“The other challenge with data…is not to be so obvious about collecting it, because that is when people get uncomfortable. Of course even if I didn’t feel very comfortable providing my email address on the immigration card then I thought and I said I like this destination I wouldn’t mind if they contact me with some tourist information. So let people feel comfortable, do not be intrusive.”