Disney: Big Data Means Big Value

Today's big data boom means that companies can know more about their customers than ever before, but according to Juan Gorricho, senior manager, Merchandise Business Intelligence and Analytics at Disney Theme Parks Merchandise, if they don't have the right processes and infrastructure to act on it, the data is useless.

Today Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) is one of the leaders in using analytics to improve customer experience at its parks through its unique MagicBands which allow guests to access their rooms, purchase goods and services, get FastPass tickets to rides and attractions, and more.

Gorricho is part of the merchandise line of business which manages and runs all the retail operations for Parks and Resorts, one of the five divisions of the company. His 15-strong team supports the parks' retail shops with analytics, demand forecasting, sales analysis and sales forecasting, among other things. He is "passionate about data analytics" and has seen the big data challenge shift over the last year.

With the amount of data being collected skyrocketing and the technology to process and store data being cheaper than ever, technology is no longer the challenge for big data. "The challenge is, 'What are you going to do with the data?'" he says in an interview with The New IP. "Technology vendors and consulting firms do a great job of selling these silver bullet types of approaches, but if you don't have the internal processes, the right people in place to make something out of it, that is going to be the biggest challenge. In my opinion, this is true for small, medium, large companies," he said. (See The Disney Take on Big Data's Value.)

The balance between the data and the people and processes needs to be maintained if businesses are going to extract any real value out of the data. "It all comes down to the people on the processing side of the equation," says Gorricho. "Do they have the right skills to analyze and take action? Are the individual processes mature enough to take action on that data?"

The creation of new C-level jobs such as chief data officer or chief analytics officer, separate from the CIO or CTO, is a step in the right direction of data, governance, security, enrichment and building new business through analytics, he says, adding, "I think, in general, data analytics is becoming a must-have. It's one of those things that that will make a difference in competitive advantage. It's one of those things that as companies realize the value, they will make it part of their core company function so they can leverage it in the way to continues to strengthen their position in the market."

— Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Editor, The New IP

smkinoshita 1/13/2015 | 1:03:05 PM
Data's Only as Good as its Users That's always the catch with big data -- it really is relatively easy to obtain but very difficult to make use of.

Still, I think Disney's up to the task.  I agree with Gorricho that it takes the company to first realize the value before they get any use out of it and it seems to me that Disney does recognize what it needs to do.
TeleWRTRLiz 1/13/2015 | 4:43:56 PM
Re: Data's Only as Good as its Users Totally agree that they are leading the pack on big data value. Juan sent me a great article from the Harvard Business Review that was not able to fit into this article or the Q&A on The New IP, so I'll paste it here. It's an short article about how analytics are not optional: https://hbr.org/2014/09/let-algorithms-decide-and-act-for-your-company/?utm_content=buffer46158&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

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