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COLUMN: Business lessons learned from the election

Yesterday was election day and congratulations to all those who ran for elected office in an attempt to give back to their community. To those who won, please roll up your sleeves – it’s time to get to work.

For the rest of us, regardless of political affiliation, there is a lesson to be learned. The Vail Valley Partnership, as a non-partisan organization, didn’t have a rooting interest in any of the results.

That said, one trend deserves to be mentioned and deserves to be praised in this election cycle. One trend occurred that any business can apply to their operation was spotlighted during this election cycle. Businesses and individuals that embrace this trend will have huge inherent advantages and will likely leave their competition wondering just shy in the world they struggle to compete.

What trend was this? Clearly, the winner was “big math” and data-driven decision making. This started a few years back in baseball with Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane and his “Money Ball” approach to player analysis. The poster child for this movement today is Nate Silver of

Mr. Silver, using math and data to guide his predictions, correctly predicted the results of the presidential election in all 50 states. This includes a last minute switch of Florida, which he predicted with a margin of 0.02%. 0.02% - that’s ridiculous, and yet it shows the power of math and data to drive decision-making.

While so many talking heads and pundits endlessly proliferated on this and that, Nate focused on math and data.

How does this apply to business?

Gone are the days of “gut-feelings”. Welcome to the days of neutral, data driven decision-making. Businesses that embrace the model of making decisions based on data have a huge advantage in the marketplace over those doing things “because that’s the way we’ve always done them” or “it’s a gut feeling”.

Businesses have tools at their disposal: web statistics, advertising ROI metrics, marketing reach, email marketing, consumer research and any number of other ways to create data and make informed decisions. Survey your customers. Include a brief survey with a guests dinner bill. Hold your advertising partners accountable to provide results in real time. Start measuring everything from web traffic to customer engagement on your facebook page to guest service levels to items selling in your retail store based on location in your store. Measure it, make it count and act on the results.

Simply stated, use this data and information to guide your decisions.

It’s easy, really. Ignore the loudest voice and instead focus on the neutral numbers. Your business will benefit from this approach.

Regardless of your pleasure or displeasure with the election results, learn from Nate Silver and use it as the turning point to be the time your business started using data to make decisions.

The Vail Valley Partnership works with local, regional & statewide partners to create & manage collaborative programs that encourage economic development in Eagle County.

Chris Romer is the executive director of the Vail Valley Partnership and the Economic Council of Eagle County.

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