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#30 OpenTable’s Grant Parsamyan on How Data and Analytics is Helping the Restaurant Industry Rebound from COVID-19

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The restaurant industry has been one of the hardest hit industries over the last year. Amid countless closures and reopenings, restaurants have overcome many obstacles in an effort to survive. Through these struggles, restaurant professionals have turned to data to optimize everything from takeout orders to new layouts, all the way to analyzing market recovery. 

Grant Parsamyan is the Senior Vice President for Data and Analytics at OpenTable, an online restaurant reservation service that is empowering restaurants of all sizes to operate more efficiently through the use of technology. 

On this episode of The Data Chief, Grant dives into OpenTable’s State of the Industry site, designed to illustrate how COVID-19 has impacted restaurants through powerful data storytelling. Grant and Cindi also discuss the importance of data literacy, and picking the right analytics tools to match business use cases. Enjoy!

Main Takeaways

  • Measuring success and proving value: Measuring success or measuring value from data and analytics is a difficult proposition. A recent study suggests less than 14% of businesses go back to do an ROI study, so it’s incumbent on data professionals to continuously be capturing anecdotes of the businesses benefits to prove value over time. A best practice for measuring value is to set a baseline and make sure that you pick the right tool to advance your use case and then measure that baseline to provide the value of those investments to gain the credibility to advance your analytics.
  • Decline of the dashboard: The role of data professionals is becoming less about developing dashboards and more about creating tools that empower users to answer their own questions. Because data flows at such a quick pace, predetermined views and dashboards are often outdated as soon as they’re created.
  • Data sharing leads to quicker results: Data sharing is enabling customers to monetize data without the messiness of manual file transfers. By being able to share data from one platform to another, data professionals are not constrained by time and volume.

Key quotes

“Data literacy is like reading in some cases. If you don’t know how to read, and if you give someone a book that can’t read, it’s useless.”

“In terms of how restaurants use data, part of my goal has always been to provide insights to the restaurant so they can run their businesses more efficiently. What does this really mean? We provide benchmarking data for the restaurants, how they’re doing in relation to their neighbors, or how they’re doing in terms of optimizing demand from consumers. How many people can they bring in and at what times? How many shifts they should do, and what should be the optimal turn times?”

“In terms of BI and analytics, what I’m excited about is it’s becoming less about developing views and more about creating and giving the tools to the end users to create their end views. This is a trend that will continue and I personally feel like in the BI space, canned reports or predefined views are going to become obsolete. It has been proven that once you create a view, you’re almost guaranteed that it’s somewhat out-of-date.” 

“Everyone wants to do well at their job and often people feel like the investment that they’re going to put into a tool, the ROI may not be there. It’s our job, the trainer’s job to show how [businesses] can actually use data. Data literacy is not a project. It’s a program. You constantly have to be doing this.”

“My focus has been how do I enable these groups of restaurants to run their analytics and their own data science on top of this data without really spending the time of making API calls and redoing the data processing and modeling.”

About Grant

Grant Parsamyan serves as the Vice President – Data Engineering and Analytics of OpenTable. Grant started at OpenTable in March of 2017. Grant currently resides in the Greater Los Angeles area.

Episode 31