Travel and the Employee Experience: How Can Data Science Help Us Improve?

Jun 9, 2020 | DTJ Online, GovTravels 2020 Videos

While the NDTA-DTMO GovTravels Symposium focuses on common travel issues facing government and industry, many of the topics discussed transverse all business sectors. A speech given at the 2020 Symposium by Dr. Chelsie Bright, Data Scientist, and Global Industry Leader for Public Sector, Qualtrics, is a prime example of this. Her presentation, Travel and the Employee Experience: How Can Data Science Help Us Improve?, explored how to leverage big data to make better decisions, to ultimately provide better customer service, and enable employees—three imperatives for most businesses.

Data put simply is information. “Data is all around us, and we’ve got to start thinking about how we can leverage that data to really help us drive change,” said Dr. Bright. “Often the solution isn’t to just necessarily go out and find more data, but to really take a look at the current data that we have and find people that are passionate about using data and empower them to help start using some of that.”

Leveraging data within the government is especially challenging. Data often lives in silos and legacy systems owned by different departments and without an end-to-end view of what is happening.

Technology is necessary to make leveraging data possible. Software and machine learning can provide advanced analytics and capabilities that make this process scalable. But, technology in and of itself does not solve the problem. Organizations must also foster a culture that promotes the use of research and statistics, and invests in the people and tools that will help them leverage data.

Together, quantitative and qualitative data create full understanding. As it applies to travel, quantitative data is essentially raw data and qualitative data is the human factor.

Explaining how these two types of data relate to the travel industry, Dr. Bright said, “What is that end-to-end user experience like and how do we start to better understand that so that when we make decisions and changes we’re optimizing to the end-user experience and not just to the raw data. Because the raw data will often tell us how many people we have traveling, what the average cost per trip is, the length and duration, how many days away from home you are in a year, but it’s not going to tell is this increasing or decreasing your likelihood of staying with the organization, how is this impacting your health and wellbeing as an individual?”

Feedback from stakeholders is essential to navigating qualitative data. It can explain not only what is happening, but the context of why it is happening. Feedback should be captured in the moment, at various touchpoints, and should be convenient to give. Furthermore, it should adhere to standardized metrics so that areas of strength and weaknesses across the end-to-end experience can be identified. 

Use data to take action. “Think about taking this data that we’ve started to collect and then use that and actually take action on it and change our processes and programs to reflect the feedback in the data, what the data is telling us,” said Dr. Bright. “This is a lot easier said and done, but it is the most critical piece of this because data in and of itself doesn’t do the world any good.”

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