You can’t open an industry publication or attend a conference without seeing a discussion about Big Data or analytics.

Now, this is good news… have we finally given the “Millennial topic” a rest and could we be on our way to recognizing the need for data-driven decision-making in our operations? It appears an operational focus may be underway.

According to Raving’s second annual Indian Gaming National Marketing Survey released this February, respondents were asked how they were handling Big Data—very large and complex data sets—that require special analysis. According to researcher Deb Hilgeman, Ph.D., who conducted the study, there was a seismic shift in the results. Last year, 54 percent of casinos did not have a plan for dealing with big data, and only 6 percent were actively working with it. This year, those numbers virtually reversed. Only 6 percent of casinos now are not sure what they’re doing with big data, while 50 percent are actively working with it.

“It appears analytics, in general, is a top priority for casino marketers,” Hilgeman said. “When we did our preliminary field research this year to talk to practitioners about what we could add or change to make the survey more valuable to them, analytics was the number one topic.”

These results were similar to a pre-conference attendee survey conducted during the Raving NEXT Conference held in January at Choctaw Casino Resort, Durant, Okla., where 76 percent of the operators listed analytics and analysis as the primary area they wish to devote more time.

Additionally, this year’s Indian Gaming National Marketing Survey found that only 55 percent of the properties surveyed reported that they consistently analyze all of their marketing programs, 22 percent consistently analyze only some of their marketing programs, and the remaining 23 percent intermittently analyze all, some or none of their marketing programs.

Furthermore, finding solutions to allocate resources and time in this area becomes even a greater priority as a majority of casinos are reporting planned increases in promotions, free play and direct mail.

Say what? We are spending more on marketing, and at the same time, we are just beginning to determine how we will tackle our challenges around analysis and analytics?

As I read the results, I found myself becoming more in line with that of a CFO. I know this statement horrifies my marketing colleagues, but how can we increase spending on these programs without having a solid analysis and analytics program in place at our properties?

Now CFOs, you aren’t off the hook either. Many times, the initiatives presented to address this lack of analytics staff, data-access or analysis reporting get shot down due to cost from those who—I find at least—are temporarily aligned. One thing we can do to solve this dilemma is to consider approaching this problem as a property issue, and not solely the responsibility of marketing or finance. Developing an analytics strategy is imperative to the success of the entire organization, so we should begin to create systems to ensure all initiatives get the evaluation needed.

Most properties have harvested the “low-hanging fruit” available in their market. Winning the business going forward will be a dance between reallocating dollars to the right people and truly becoming more strategic and innovative operators.

Interested in the survey? Contact Gency Warren, gency@ravingconsulting.com for your free copy.