Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Is Big Data the Way to Ensure Compliance?

Big data – according to Wikipedia – is a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools. Yawning yet? The truth is big data is exciting. And the excitement lies in the additional information that can be pulled from these data sets and what you do with them.

In the past it’s been prohibitively expensive thanks to the cost of servers needed to store and drill down the data to make it useful. But as technology gets cheaper, the opportunities available from big data are becoming more accessible to everyone.  And when it comes to buying business travel, big data holds a lot of potential for corporates.

Big data allows travel managers to understand the traveller better, track him or her and push information out to him. It’s this last element that is particularly useful for travel managers because it allows them to push information to travellers that enables and encourage them to stick to policy and budget while away from the office.  

For example, managers can use big data to tell junior staff, who may well feel apprehensive about taking public transport abroad, not to get a cab when they arrive at the airport, but to go to bus transfer stop A or train station B. They can give them directions, explain where to go to buy a ticket, ask them to use the NFC company credit card, pick up the ticket, get on the train at time x to destination y, remind him when to get off, that he can walk to the hotel in five minutes rather than take an overpriced unnecessary cab, where to go for dinner that’s close to the hotel, within policy and within budget… the possibilities are pretty endless.  

And, as we know in this day and age of the rogue, anything that helps travel managers to know more about their travellers and use that information in a way that increases compliance has got to be a good thing.

David Chapple is event director of the Business Travel Show. Talk to him about Big Data on Twitter @btshowlondon or directly at

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