Human capital is a key driver to productivity and includes education, skills and training acquired by workers both on the job and elsewhere. Especially small businesses struggle to fund training due to smaller budgets and access to expertise. However, investing in training is crucial to deliver strategic objectives, such as becoming data driven and contributes not only to enhancing performance, commitment and retention but also customer satisfaction.
Another key productivity driver is technology and innovation. Investment in information and communication technology, as well as best practice techniques, is therefore vital to a business’ sustained competitiveness. However, skills shortages and resistance to change are major barriers to innovation. Establishing a culture of data-driven innovation is therefore fundamental to the capacity to implement new technologies.
A big challenge in making use of data is related to skills. Compared to other industries, there is a general lack of data skills across the tourism sector, where often event delivery or marketing are core roles and internal data skill and capacity management are tagged on rather than key focuses despite the systems capturing rich datasets. Turning an IT strategy into a data strategy and knowing which issues to tackle and what questions to ask your data to do so is a crucial part of developing data expertise in-house.
New technology always brings challenges with it. You might have to go out and get help from experts but training your staff in the course of that transition will enhance your ability to handle data in-house and over time reduce your dependency on external services. You must have a system in place that allows internal sharing of skillsets to ensure they are not lost once a key person moves on to another job. So, attaining and retaining skills in the company is crucial to long-term success.
Developing staff skills and onboarding processes internally can be even more challenging but is necessary for some SMEs lacking in resources. For example, you might have data, but the inputs are not done timely or accurately. It is important to make sure you have a conversation with your team about why it matters to the business to be collecting data in a certain way early on. One way to get them to understand this is to get the team in one room and let them map the entire visitor experience and think about the different data points that are collected at each step in the process and which staff roles they correspond to. This might help your team to see where there are interdependencies between departments and where there are potential knock-on effects if their job is not done accurately or in time.
© Edinburgh Napier University