How can Big Data & Artificial Intelligence help the ski industry?

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Big Data is growing fast and becoming more important than ever, thanks to the democratization of data and the expansion of IoT systems.  In particular, the ski industry is advancing in the digitization process and, as a consequence, integrating with the Big Data ecosystem and facing the challenges of this early stage. Resorts are capturing huge amounts of data but it is difficult for them to translate it into valuable insights for themselves and their customers. The key questions remain unanswered: Who are their customers? How do they behave and what are their needs during the ski day? How is their customer journey? Capturing Big Data has the potential to answer them, but it is just the first step of a long and exciting process.

What is Big Data and how is it different from other forms of data?

According to McKinsey there are four characteristics which define it: Huge scale (volume), fast data flow (velocity), diverse data types (variety) and low-value density (value), the 4V’s of Big Data.

These characteristics make working with Big Data a great opportunity but also a challenge. Huge volumes of data will be costly to collect, process and store. A fast data flow will challenge processing engines and a diversity of data types will increase the complexity of the data cycle, from a need for different processing systems to applying a diversity of methodologies to learn from data. Finally, a low value density makes valuable information difficult to acquire, it is there but hidden under huge amounts of irrelevant data. In many cases, information will only arise after the combination and analysis of many pieces of data which, in isolation, are not very useful. However, it is worth facing these challenges as, with the right processes and methodologies, Big Data will provide decision makers a full new world of high-value information which was previously unimaginable. Here is where Artificial Intelligence takes a step.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a discipline that uses a series of techniques in machines in order to perform complex intellectual tasks such as learning, forming concepts, recognizing patterns, solving problems or even innovating, simulating human intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence Neural Network
Artificial Intelligence Neural Network

It is a key partner of Big Data, as most AI techniques, such as Machine Learning algorithms, will benefit hugely from the volume of data, the first V of Big Data. With more data available, algorithms have more opportunities to learn, can be more complex and  can provide better outcomes. Further, Big Data systems will also take advantage and incorporate Artificial Intelligence methods in their pipelines, playing a role in data classification, anomalies detection and the selection of relevant data. Furthermore, many types of unstructured data  such as text, voices, images or pictures would be useless without Artificial Intelligence techniques, such as Deep Learning. These techniques perform complex tasks like recognizing objects and elements in images or concepts and relationships in text, transforming plain unstructured data into useful structured data, just one step before relevant and insightful information.

How can big data help the ski industry?

The ski industry is just beginning its relationship with Big Data and Artificial Intelligence and starting to realize how a variety of techniques can be applied in order to improve the skier experience.

  • Image recognition can be used in order to detect crowded areas, under used facilities and improve queue management systems.
  • GPS data will help business players better understand the behaviour of their customers, which facilities, slopes and lifts do they use and which services are their favourites, a complete and deep view on the ski experience.
  • With predictive algorithms dynamic pricing offers can be set to dynamize the sale.
  • Recommendation algorithms and chatbots can improve the skier experience guiding new customers through the discovery of the resort and helping them discover which are the slopes that they will enjoy the most.

The list of tasks and possibilities is long and remains to be explored.

Skitude Business Intelligence’s contribution to the industry

Ski Resort Heatmap by Skitude BI
Ski Resort Heatmap by Skitude Business Intelligence

Skitude Business Intelligence (BI) is taking advantage of Big Data generated by the Skitude Platform in order to develop innovative solutions based on Artificial Intelligence which are the key resource  in order to improve the skier experience and mountain resort’s operations.

More information at https://bi.skitude.com/

Andreu Reixach

Andreu Reixach

Andreu Reixach is Data Scientist at Skitude and PhD candidate at Universitat Pompeu Fabra. With a background in economics and a focus on statistics and quantitative methods he is currently working on the use of Big Data to generate Business Insights for the ski sector.