Business Intelligence & Technology Group ~ from Silos to Collaborative
11/1/2016 - The Aspen Parks & Recreation Department (APR) has realigned traditionally siloed key personnel into a more collaborative and symbiotic work group environment. Included in this new group are those individuals charged with managing the department's dynamic, retail business engine: technical systems, financial, and operational analysts. See also BIT Group Mission Statement
During 2017 the APR is adapting to two new systems, the City's new Oracle Financial System, followed by APR's implementation of a more current, business integrated software solution for managing parks and rec memberships, facilities, activities, events and the inventories thereof and the public's access thereto. Receiving significant programmatic modifications in order to accommodate the APR, the software solution is known as Maximum Solutions (Max). By having the Brain Trust of this team focused and guided in a common direction within the new Business Intelligence & Technology Group (BIT), APR can now use this tool to generate increases in both innovation and revenues, creating new business opportunities.
The APR Department is the City of Aspen's largest, working with an annual budget of $20+ million, and employing up to 400 employees. The APR is charged with managing the City's immense Parks and Rec amenity investment including:
- an award winning 18-hole public golf course,
- two ice rinks,
- 35 parks,
- 2 recreation centers,
- 7 athletic fields,
- hundreds of miles of hiking/biking trails,
- over 1100 acres of open space,
- 10 tennis and pickle ball courts,
- 2 indoor rock climbing facilities,
- an Olympic pool, aerobic studio, cardio and weight room.
Aspen residents and visitors alike recreate with these amenities 365 days a year, due largely to a prideful maintenance and grooming crew, coupled with a creative staff whom compile the needs and wants of the patrons of APR and match them with extensive activity, class and event programming. And the APR's expanding sphere of influence only continues to grow. The APR has a significant fiscal responsibility, and an ever-increasing responsibility to be creative. They work with multiple City fund sources, engage in complex capital projects, and are more like a retail business than most other City departments.
And thus the need for this new realignment, re-positioning the following, existing employees to the BIT Group:
Nick Nicholson -the team's leader, Nick has 40 years of serial entrepreneur business expertise, significant management experience and a penchant for being on the cutting edge of emerging technologies; Nick will lead the group in finding new business opportunities by marrying the art of marketing with the science of automation, while marshalling, directing and mentoring the rest of the team's youthful talents and energies.
- Benjamin Sachdeva -Ben is the team's Financial Analyst, his expertise acquired from public and private sector experience of the past decade, researching and analyzing data from Securities Firms to Energy Markets. With the new Max integration, Ben will be able to mine, model and justify all of the possibilities that BIT uncovers.
- Joasia Smith -JoJo is the team's Accounting Analyst, having spent the last 13 years administering, managing and growing the various account processing systems the department has deployed; The centralized focus of Max will require her implementation attention and, once live, facilitate more streamlined processes on all fronts.
- Anna Buettow -As the team's Systems Administrator, Annie has significant data processing and software experience as a tax accountant. She joins the team after working on the front line with APR's patrons for the past 4 years, while simultaneously being the GoTo person for ActiveNet data configuration, keeping the department's offerings in touch with the patron perspective. For the past 5 months Annie has led the serious due diligence efforts on the Max investigation. She is responsible for implementing a new, enterprise-wide training regimen that facilitates a fully knowledgeable cadre of front line employees capable of cross-divisional use at APR's various front desks.
As of 2017, the APR has now enjoyed an online electronic relationship with all of the department's patrons for a solid decade, a significant milestone. Adoption of "Online" by APR's customers has grown from 0% to an industry-leading 85%. Realigned as BIT, this team will soon be actively mining, modeling and projecting the associated data APR has collected thus far.
The distillation of business intelligence will be ongoing: establishing the best match of parks and recreation experiences with the exacting desires of APR's patrons; implementing the best and most user-friendly methods for purchasing and accessing that programming, using the most industry-current technologies available; and creating an awareness of, and investigation into, emerging recreation programming trends, opportunities and responsibilities. Measuring intangibles that haven't yet been measured. Ensuring that the department's divisional Directors have the best intel possible, in real time, in order that they can make the best possible business decisions for their various Divisions.
The net effect will be the best product possible for the most affordable rate, helping people where and when they need it. The APR BIT Group seeks to find increases in revenue, maximizing returns while minimizing subsidy levels. They must carefully identify and maintain a delicate balance of parks and recreation facility and activity elements, including those which are deemed as absolute requirements by a demanding constituency of the City of Aspen citizens, even when doing so requires a larger than desired subsidization. Simultaneously, the BIT Group will keep an eye towards the future with actionable business insights based on trusted data. Improving the lives of APR's members and visitors alike, while reaching more and more of them.
Here are a few examples of the to-do list for initial BIT Group investigation and potential implementation:
- MAX -A new, enterprise-wide online parks and rec inventory, membership, packaging, sales and delivery system that focuses on the patron user experience as its number one concern, while eventually combining the myriad systems historically used by the department into a single and more efficient solution for the future. The BIT Group is actively working in the development of new functionality for this system and will remain such in an advisory capacity, after its completion. Having successfully guided the development of a new Golf module, the team is now actively participating in the development of a Business Intelligence solution for the product.
- RFID -Implementing Max will allow the replacement of APR's current Bar Code system underpinning with a RFID codex, utilizing the same technology configuration as the SkiCo's (and possibly others) ski pass system. This will allow APR to plan and one day co-produce an integrated product, taking advantage of the related marketing and sales cycle of business partners, potentially allowing the same pass that gets you on the lift to get you in APR's doors.
- ConciergeNet -A full complement of APR products and services, increased from APR's current Golf offering, delivered to the concierge desk (via their concierge PC) at the local Aspen hotel properties.
- Community Calendar -View parks, fields and recreation programming availability and activity on a single integrated calendar, including interactive staff commenting regarding work flow and status.
- Expanded Community Calendar -Lending APR's online calendaring technologies to third party User Groups for their use for their clubs, sports and associations and, in doing so, ensuring APR content is always included in the appropriate web portals. Where possible, APR inventories, like the others, will be pushed via the calendar to online, day-of point of sale purchases.
- Community Point of Sale -The APR ConciergeNet will be expanded to include other sales sources and/or similar but complimentary -perhaps even interchangeable -rec programming offerings (i.e. Snowmass Village, etc.). The focus will be on Tee and Court time reservations, and Day-of Point of Sale (via Credit Card) Day Passes, lock rentals, skate rentals, etc., complete with a receipt of prepurchase for the guest to hand in upon check-in at the front desks.
- Passive Recreation Programming -An aging population (aka Baby Boomers) requires an adjustment in their recreation programming: from alternative workouts to community card games. Programs to include the new Golf Simulator space as a year-round community/craft lounge.
- Wellbeing Programming -Recreation is just one of 6 pillars of Wellbeing for the Whole Human. How will the Parks & Recreation Department of the future facilitate and/or program elements of the other pillars?
- Video Schedule Network -Parks & Recreation classes, activities and events are now displayed on video terminals throughout the APR facilities. Combined with illustrative videos about those elements, the BIT Group will look at expanding this electronic live brochure to the hotel lobbies, in-room channels, and beyond. The task will be to provide the video medium as an opportunity for local videographers to showcase, and possibly compete, while they receive some funding.
- Creative, Millennial and High Tech Facility Programming -technology is contributing to recreation at an increasingly rapid rate. In addition to enhancement of traditional experiences like adding laser lights and music at public skating arenas, emerging examples include interactive game projections for youth (www.joinbeam.com). Various other opportunities include paddle board-like yoga classes on the pool, etc.
- Web-based facility use mapping, where technology keeps track of the current, live usage of key facility assets (weight room, yoga room, spin room, etc.), showing a current, LIVE capacity indicator (green, yellow, red) for each. Subsequent summaries over a period of time can then be produced as suggested "avoid" and suggested "opportune use" times.