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Columbus Zoo: Doing Data Right

ZooIt’s one thing to talk of actionable business intelligence in the abstract. But it’s also great to spot an example of an organization that is truly approaching their data in a strategic way.

Data Informed ran an extensive interview with executives at Columbia Zoo to talk about some of the focused data analytics projects that they’ve already developed and run at the zoo. Some early successes include:

The zoo using BI to determine whether or not new exhibits are likely to be successful.

Using data analytics to make decisions about under-performing food and retail stands throughout the park, reducing waste and increasing profits.

Using data analytics to make an effort to foster more effective interactions with the donor base.

Of course, TMA has shared many data success stories on this blog. But this interview was very telling as it covered the thought processes behind the success stories, and that is worth highlighting.

For example:

We started to look at what we didn’t know about ourselves…and said, “We have data problems. We don’t really know enough to be efficient at what we are doing or to make really good, fact-based decisions.


We had a couple of key projects that we knew could make an impact right away…We knew we had a few targets we could fix right away and make a big impact with, and that in itself gave us a chance to kind of snowball the system in to where other departments looked and said, “Oh that’s what you can do with that, and now we can visualize that and see that, we can touch these reports. And, by the way, can we have this and this and this and this?”

This process of discovering those first key projects and targets are really key to creating a truly data-driven organization. Do what matters most first. Get successful, create results, and move on to the next one. Waste zero time on hype–don’t create new problems trying to solve old ones. This is excellent strategic thinking at work.

If you’d like to learn how to develop this kind of business intelligence strategy for your own business then it’s time to think about laying the groundwork that will put you in the right mindset to do just that. Get started today by registering for TMA’s free webinar, Data Mining: Failure to Launch. By the time you’re done you should be well on your way towards identifying those key targets and issues in your business environment.

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