LONDON, United Kingdom — Harnessing data is the key to futureproofing the fitness sector, according to industry expert and Founder of CRM platform Keepme, Ian Mullane.
And in his latest white paper, Everything You Need to Know About Data & AI, the trailblazer, tech expert and former health club operator, sets out to strip away the barriers of complexity surrounding the topic.
By addressing 10 commonly-asked questions including ‘what counts as data?’, ‘what if my data is imperfect?’ and ‘where could AI add value to my business?’, Mullane hopes to provide business owners with a practical guide to getting started — and the understanding needed to drive future growth. Ultimately, he believes, this will help to propel the industry forward and futureproof its relevance.
“Data. It’s never been seen as the sexiest of topics, but all that is changing — fast,” Mullane tells Welltodo.
“The challenge is this. For so long a back-room discipline, across all levels of an organisation, most people’s understanding of data has gaps. We’re excited by the potential but aren’t necessarily equipped to answer important questions: what value can we expect to create, how relevant are new developments to our business, what do we need to succeed?” he adds.
In fact, by truly understanding what data is, in what forms you will find it, and how to drive exceptional business value from it, fitness operators can take action and immediately start extracting value, argues Mullane.
Here ahead of the whitepaper’s launch, he outlines some of the key takeaways from it, including how to collect and store this valuable asset, the importance of utilising AI and how data can be leveraged to inform and empower.
Unite your data
Crucially, this business-transforming data already exists in your operation.
It will often be digital but can also be offline — the notes your team might make when chatting to a member, for example.
It’s structured — class bookings, access control data, website analytics and so on — but also unstructured, from inbound emails to social media reviews to the free-form section of member surveys. It’s also the data members carry in their fitness trackers and apps, that they could grant you access to. And that’s just for starters; there’s a mass of data in every business.
The key, as Mullane explains, is to stop looking at these as separate ‘islands’ of data. By connecting them, we not only multiply the value of the data, with new combinations driving new insights but we can also fill gaps.
“One interesting example would be missing class attendance data from the CMS,” he says. “Armed with the CMS data, plus site attendance data from the entry system, in most cases it can be determined whether a member attended a class based on time of entry, time of exit and any other ‘evidence’ within the data.”
Just add AI
Once data has been extracted and collated, applying AI then turns it into actionable knowledge and insight.
It’s easiest to think of AI as a prediction machine. Think Spotify: ‘Based on what they’ve listened to, I predict they will like…’ Think Waze: ‘Based on my understanding of the road system and reported traffic conditions, I predict an ETA of…’
How and where can this prediction machine add value to a fitness business? At the risk of sounding simplistic, the answer is ‘everywhere’.
Take a look at all the business metrics you work with, most of which report on the past. Now ask yourself: “What could I do with this insight if it were predicting forward?”
How valuable would it be if, for example, you knew which members would leave you in six months? What changes might you implement in your retention strategies?
If you could send a commercial offer to a member, knowing it was highly likely to be of interest, how might that impact your bottom line?
What if you could predict (with 90% accuracy) your sales figures for the next six months? If you knew which lead would convert and which would not? If you knew which sales channels would decrease in performance next quarter?
By asking yourself these questions, and others like them, you’ll immediately appreciate how the transparency AI provides allows you to take consistent, positive action.
Proceed with confidence
You’ll take those actions confidently, too, courtesy of AI’s impressive long-term accuracy.
Suddenly, you’ll be empowered to act while there’s still an opportunity to change the outcome — intervening with a member who, unbeknown to them, will otherwise become at-risk nine months from now, for example.
The evidence? One UK operator gave Keepme its data for the previous two years, holding back the current year, and asked Keepme to identify which members would still be there in six months’ time. Keepme’s predictions were 94% accurate straight out of the gate — and even higher later as AI continued to learn — compared to effectively a coin-toss based on human expertise.
“When it comes to prediction, the results secured from AI + machine learning will be many times better than anything an expert could achieve,” confirms Mullane.
Find out how AI works, and how you can implement it in your business, by reading Everything You Need Know About Data & AI. Register here for your free copy.