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This blog discusses the experiences of a consulting professional currently working at EmPower Research, a firm that provides decision support services to clients through offices in NYC, San Francisco and Bangalore, India.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

@Philips Take a bow - the 60W LED bulb designed by your team goes on sale on Earth Day. Lovely!
A Big Data approach to an Unified loyalty program. Wacky but possible. What say, @Delta, @MakeMyTrip, @ThomasCook?

How to Use Big Data in Loyalty Programs?

On a recent trip, I realized that while some companies that helped me in reaching my destinations (hotels, airline operators, tour operators, travel agents, rental agencies, restaurants, etc.) asked me to join their loyalty program, it did not make sense, given the frequency of my travel activity.

However, when I reflected on their intent and why people like me were reluctant to join, it dawned on me that this can be dealt in an efficient manner, if they look at the big picture and collaborate across borders and currencies and time zones.

How is this possible? Every traveler whether frequent or infrequent has a travel footprint that can be mapped to a large database. The identifier that pulls the data together in this database can be:

a. For local travel: there is no overarching identifier that exists in this case. However, when you read bullet point b., you will realize, this can be managed

b. For international travel: the passport can be a powerful footprint and can be mapped through airline travel, hotel stay, domestic travel today. If there is a need to expand this idea for local travel, this can be a powerful way to collate traveler information across the entire journey

Today, all players in the travel value chain think about only their customers – I know that there is some collaboration through alliances but I am pitching an even bigger angle here.

Imagine a case of travel for the following cases:

a. Austin to New York

b. Mumbai to Delhi

c. Bangalore to Paris

d. Singapore to London

In each of the following cases, a Big Data database maps their consumption of all aspects of the journey (home to airport, airport food and other purchases, airline travel, airport to hotel at destination or airport to home at destination, food and lodging at destination, car rentals at destination, telecom services, etc.) using their Passport Number as the primary key. The big point here is that these service experiences should be mapped regardless of travel within or outside countries and continents and across currencies.

For every such consumption of product or service, the customer gets points. This is now a UNIFIED INTEGRATED LOYALTY system and transcends borders, services and products. Hence, the loyalty point base accrued is much higher than in existence across multiple standalone systems for a select base of customers.

Benefits of this system:

a. Allows a larger base of loyalty points available for all corporate entities to pitch additional services. In fact, the system can collect and assign points to every customer irrespective of their sign-up and then ask them to enroll.

b. With schemes that allow for 10-20% of price to be paid with these points, companies across this value chain and even outside this value chain, can trigger additional consumption of products and services and manage their capacities better.

c. The stickiness of customer base becomes better because of the potential to use these points, which were not being given to nearly 80-90% of traveler base currently because of stand-alone systems

d. Database can be opened up for all service providers to run advanced analytics around holistic traveler experience to design new routes, products and services basis past experience

e. Useful for global security agencies to map individuals that can be security threats to nations

f. The database creation activity brings best-in-class storage, networking and analytics vendors to do something innovative for the planet


a. The creation of the database itself as this involves permissions across countries by governments and their security mechanisms

b. The mapping of individual points across currencies, time zones and varying price points for similar services across countries

c. Managing the database as this involves multiple stakeholders

I know this is a wild idea but this is exactly how efficiencies can be created by thinking big and out of the box. I read somewhere that at any point in time, there are 0.5 million people in the air. That itself should give one a sense of the immense potential for this PLANETARY database to help the travel industry pitch their products and services better. I firmly believe that this will improve the state of the industry.

What will it take for decision makers to say, “Yes, we can risk this idea!”?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

IPL fever is slowly and surely gripping the nation, and that includes me! Nice. dlfipl

Friday, April 20, 2012

Technology invented by Ruihong Zhang, converts solid waste into renewable energy and generates 22 jobs. Take a bow.
Loyalty programs are under-leveraged and can use a Big Data approach if all players come together. Sounds interesting? Watch this space.
VC funding to start-ups reduces to $5.8B in Q1'12 from $7.1B in Q1'11 according to PwC. Signs of slow-down in the economy?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Should students and teachers ever be friends on Facebook? US school districts, are weighing that question to balance the risks of inappropriate contact with the academic benefits of social networking.
Mama mia. Research from Univ of Leicester says individuals are genetically programmed to work together and cooperate with those who resemble them.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bye bye beautiful Finland. It was a pleasure visiting you. You might be cold but your people are nice & friendly. Good luck! finlandrocks

Friday, April 6, 2012

Will endodermal progenitor (EP) cells be the next big thing in diabetes? They can form working pancreatic cells!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

@CocaCola Your "Umedowali.." song should become a school anthem. Will make kids believe in hope as they move further in life. awesome hope
From the PC to classes to now glasses. The Internet is going a long way indeed!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

New Yorkers watch out....your energy data is out there. An interactive map now shows an energy heat map by ZIP code. nyc

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The story of tea told in simple terms. Worth a read though you will be amazed to know the diversity of this simple cuppa!!
Interesting effort by ILO to compare one's monthly wage with the global average. Go ahead, try it out.