Love Your Data – From Creation to Collation to Examination Part II

Part II Examination of Data

In part 1 of Love Your Data, we examined the lifecycle of data from creation to collation. The catalyst for generating new data in the travel industry is the traveler. Data created by the traveler’s journey begins with thinking about a trip. From the moment a trip is conceptualized, numerous information sources are poised to be ignited that eventually filter down into pieces of data. All of this data needs to be collated in a meaningful way.

The traveler, along with travel buyers, sellers and technology partners, generates business intelligence through sources such as GDS, credit card data, expense management, online and mobile bookings. The problem companies face in examining this information is that data sources work autonomously and in many cases require manual collation.

Before analysis, data needs to be published by retrieving information from those various sources in a user-friendly format. TravelOptix™ solves the data aggregation problem by incorporating travel statistics into a rich visualization that highlights actionable data that is leveraged by the TMC or a corporate travel manager. The graphical dashboard is responsive in design and can be viewed on any platform including mobile, web or tablet.

Reporting applications, while they might be an extension of the business intelligence tool, have their requirements. These tools must have the ability to be scheduled and run automatically on a regular basis. They should be easy to distribute to both users and non-users. So how is this all pulled together?

Examination

To make meaningful data,  technology must integrate data flowing in, data that is stored, and have the ability to publish the data customized in a beneficial way for the end user. 

Data Sources

Cornerstone’s overall goal for the next generation data analysis is to establish a process of capturing data from any source in any format. Collected data is gathered via API integration along with export files and other sources. Feeds include data consisting of purchase information, content data, and contextual data. Purchase data is specific to the acquisition of travel, such as an invoice, ticket and credit card transactions.  Content data is data that supplements the transaction, such as seat map information, restaurant and event data. Contextual data is lookup data or master data that describes information about the trip, such as a list of airports or hotel properties. Information is cleaned up at this stage to fix “bad” data at the time of transformation.

Data storage

Two main types of data are stored, facts and master data. Fact data relates to both purchase and content data as previously mentioned. Data arrives via various sources such as Cornerstone’s ICCX, iBank, other expense management tools, rail providers, HR systems, CRM platforms or credit card systems.

The second type of data is master data. Master data is a lookup type of data that enhances the trip to give it a unified translation for the various sources. Master data includes information like airlines, airports, rail carriers, hotel properties, mileage and benchmarking data.

Data publishing

In a next generation system, publishing refers to the way data is retrieved from the system and presented to a user or collaborating system. It is where any external API’s would be used giving TMC’s and their clients a way to retrieve information in their programs and mobile applications.

TravelOptix™ is a platform that is flexible and easy to configure so that clients can determine what information is necessary and sort and filter the data on based on how the end user wants to view the data. Business intelligence becomes dependent on analysts ability to create a view that provides actionable data while maintaining the needs of the clients.

Until now, the capability to slice and dice this information in an accessible and understandable way has been out of reach.  Cornerstone’s launch of TravelOptix™ solves that problem.

Imagine taking one metric like airline ticket travel cost and be able to view that data by such categories as a class of service, regions, and city pairs or advance purchases. In addition, TravelOptix™ will bring in any external data and incorporate it into the existing information.

Now the data starts to take shape, especially when it is sliced and diced to paint a more accurate and complete picture of a company performance.

The lifecycle of data from creation to collation, to examination is a complex process involving an intricate combination of partnerships and technology. Originating with the traveler, data is created throughout every step of the travel journey. Travel managers and TMCs play a significant role in collating and analyzing the data in a meaningful way.  Proper technology is needed to make sense of the tremendous amount of information gathered from hundreds of trips taken in an organization.

Throughout the process, business intelligence plays a central role in guiding and evaluating a company’s overall strategy, yet today is still a fragmented process. Cornerstone is passionate about solving this and is continually innovating next generation solutions for business intelligence, helping all parties involved to “Love their data”!

Cornerstone Information Systems (CIS) Will Feature Innovative New Travel Technology at Phocuswright Conference

TravelOptix™ and 4site™ enable Travel Management Companies to be more proactive by delivering actionable data to their corporate clients and travelers, supports innovative ways to optimize travel experiences

Cornerstone Information Systems, a leader in the development of software applications for the travel industry, today announced that CEO Mat Orrego will take Center Stage at The Travel Innovation Summit November 16-19, 2015 in Hollywood, Florida.  The two-day summit that takes place at The Phocuswright Conference showcases the next wave of innovation in travel.

This year’s Travel Innovation Summit attendees will discover the next market-changing innovations in travel from the carefully selected global innovators by Phocuswright’s experienced analyst team. Cornerstone, with the recent launch of TravelOptix™ and 4site™, was chosen as an ideal candidate for the showcase.

Cornerstone’s TravelOptix™ groundbreaking technology allows anyone to become a business analyst and architect of their data by providing a comprehensive picture of their data through four major components:

  • Intuitive, customizable visualizations that reveal hidden insights
  • Multi-source integration for a single analytics platform
  • Mobile integration to view ideas anytime and anywhere
  • Robust storytelling tools that for efficient collaboration

4site™, Cornerstone’s latest event driven app, provides accurate, timely and relevant travel data directly to the corporate traveler’s mobile device. The app is designed to make enterprise travelers more efficient and productive while on the road. 4site™ is a living-breathing application that monitors the journey, allowing employees to make better decisions by driving real time:

  • Itineraries and travel options
  • Trip disruption – both detecting and managing
  • Re-accommodation and concierge services

“We are thrilled to present both TravelOptix™ and 4site™ at this year’s Travel Innovation Summit,” stated Mat Orrego, CEO of Cornerstone. “Data consolidation and trip disruption are two of the most significant problems in the travel industry today, and  these products will solve both those problems.”

Data is the key to helping TMC’s and their clients understand how well their travel initiatives are producing and performing. The aggregation of travel specific information with TravelOptix™, using both internal and external data points, empowers travel companies and corporations to optimize their travel and ultimately optimize their business. Cornerstone is the industry leader in delivering the most relevant, actionable insights with an enormous database of pertinent information.

Equally important is being aware and staying ahead of any issues that may disrupt a business trip and delivering recommendations is where journey management enables success. Dealing with events almost instantaneously such as weather delays, overbooking scenarios and even making sure the right rental car selected 4site™ helps the business traveler focus on their job and not their trip.

Cornerstone, a leader in the development of software applications, will use both solutions to enhance their existing relationship with travel management companies and their clients.

Interested parties can attend the Travel Innovation Summit November 16-19, 2015 at the Phocuswright Conference in Hollywood, Florida or visit ciswired.com to learn more and schedule for a demo of both TravelOptix™ and 4site™.

Love Your Data – From Creation to Collation to Examination Part 1

This is Part I of a series I am calling Love Your Data.  To truly “love your data” it helps to understand the lifecycle of data from creation to coalition, to examination. The perception that data is static information could not be farther from the truth. The germination of pieces of information, the Petrie dishes of data if you will, is a dynamic process that incorporates multiple variables that produce facts and figures at a rapid pace. The catalyst for generating new data in the travel industry is the traveler. There are also separate customer segments, travel buyers, travel sellers and technology partners that play a crucial role in generating and evaluating all of this data.

Creation

Data created by the traveler’s journey begins with thinking about a trip. From the moment a trip is conceptualized, numerous information sources are poised to be ignited that eventually filter down into pieces of data.  Let’s follow a typical business trip itinerary:

Susan needs to attend an annual conference and wants to make sure she visits with one the company’s largest clients on the trip. She begins to visualize all the details to make the trip successful, attempting to maintain a lifestyle balance with her family while remaining aware of company policy. She checks with her travel agent on compliance, uses the booking platform approved by the corporation, and begins her search for air, hotel and car. Immediately she begins to see the flights within the adopted guidelines are not only ridiculously expensive but also have long layovers and horrible time schedules.

Susan jumps over to look at a favorite online travel site and is pleased when she finds flights that are economical and reduce overall travel time. Knowing how quickly fares can change, Susan books the flight even though she knows this is outside of corporate compliance. Susan feels empowered booking her own flights because she feels in control. She perceives that she is saving the company money, saving herself time, and overall, this will have an impact on trip productivity. Next, she asks his assistant to book the hotel at the conference host hotel, arrange a rental car and make dinner reservations at a high-end steak house.

As most any road warrior, Susan has her mobile phone with her at all times and leaves for the airport worried about flight delays and cancelations. She does have the assurance that if there is a trip disruption her mobile device will receive an alert. Boarding the flight, with no delay, Susan arrives at the destination and is frustrated to find the vehicle that she rented is not available, so decides to jump in a cab instead, and then use Uber to get to appointments.

Susan took the cab over to the hotel where she had requested an early check-in. Paying the extra $25 to check in early was fine for her as she needed to get ready to head over to the conference. Susan decides to order room service so she won’t be hungry at the conference even though she is aware this is outside company policy.

After freshening up and having a bite to eat, Susan pulled out her phone and ordered an Uber to take her to the convention center. The day was highly productive and at 4 pm, Susan jumps into another Uber to pick up her client and head to Ruth Chris steak house for dinner.

Susan’s trip was successful because she received a verbal commitment on renewal from the important client and is returning with numerous hot leads from the conference. Each step of the way she has created fragments of information that will turn into data for collating and examination. Some in compliance, others outside of the approved company suppliers.

Susan is not worried how the data is collected nor what the analysis will say.  She closed a deal, and helped her company begin to onboard a new customer and now has shifted focus into following up and the next steps.  Travel data and its analysis is not her concern.

Coalition

Travelers like Susan create a challenge for the individuals responsible for pulling together the numerous touch points to be examined, especially when travelers arrange and book travel outside the agreed upon conventions and channels.  Data around a trip flows in through numerous sources, credit card data, GDS, online bookings; mobile bookings expense management and business intelligence. The problem is these data sources work autonomously and in many cases require manual collation. This is where the three customer segments come into play – buyers, sellers and technology partners – all working together, harmoniously collecting proper information for analysis.

The Corporate Travelers Buyers Job 

The role of a buyer is to be the curator of the entire corporate travel program. Overall, they administer policy controls, manage suppliers, and negotiate contracts all while maintaining budgets. This highly specialized profession of buying travel services is an alignment between travel management and procurement’s best practices.

Travel and procurement need to create a functional relationship, as continued education in regards to the complexity of trip programs and technology are more intricate than other static purchases made by procurement departments. On the procurement side, controlling spend is a top priority, working with budgets and playing devil’s advocate on which trips are necessary over the alternative of video conferencing. Procurement is continually working toward controlling spend.

As the master of all things travel, buyers have access to incredible amounts of data. They assist in supporting the company’s travel standards and methodologies through the examination of this data. The pain point they experience is the difficulty in aggregating all of the data to answer the numerous questions asked by upper management. This complexity compounds when travelers break policy by booking outside of endorsed channels.

The Corporate Travel Sellers Job 

TMCs have extensive access to both human and technical resources. According to The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), a properly managed program will see a 10-12% savings in overall costs to the enterprise. TMCs can build a successful and profitable business intelligence strategy based on four core principles; the foundation of service automation, subject matter experts, communication and most significantly, cost savings.

Travel sellers are busy booking and managing all the elements around trip planning. They are the primary support for travelers and most importantly are responsible for pulling together data. All the fragmented information, whether within company guidelines or not, needs to be collated in a visual representation that is clear, actionable and meaningful. This is where choosing the right partnerships with technology companies becomes increasingly important.

The Travel Technology Partners Job

Technology should simplify or enhance the travel process. Companies likeCornerstone have proven leadership in developing software solutions for the traveler journey and the examination of a trip. The recent launch of TravelOptix™ solves the data aggregation problem by incorporating travel statistics into a rich visualization that highlights actionable data that is leveraged by the TMC or a corporate travel manager.

TravelOptix™ visualizes the decisions a traveler makes from profile setup to expense reporting. It then shows the flow of data generated through various platforms that the traveler, manager, and TMC can use to optimize a company’s trip performance.

Through this NextGen of data management, a TMC can eliminate productivity drain, invigorate travel confidence and oversee policy control while balancing flexibility that may be better for the traveler or the company.

Data is created through multiple sources throughout a travel journey. The current environment of extracting data is fragmented. There is difficulty in retrieving information from multiple sources and collating the statistics so that these touchpoints can be interacted with in a meaningful way.  The goal at Cornerstone is to provide a framework to bring many disparate data sources together within the travel management sphere. This will create standards where none currently exists within the industry to increase data connectivity. Cornerstone is passionate about this and is continually working on next generation solutions for business intelligence helping all parties involved to love your data!