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Small Data

February 8th 2016

I’m a fan of data. Ever since I learned how to make graphs on Excel at school, I have enjoyed playing about with spreadsheets and processing information.

It wasn’t long ago that I read this article about VisiCalc – the world’s first spreadsheet program.

From relatively humble beginnings, ‘Big data’ is all the rage nowadays, predicting all kinds of stuff like… I don’t know really… What temperature everyone’s central heating is at? What flavour of Pringles is most popular in Burnage? Exactly what time people start watching box sets on Sunday afternoon? Useful stuff like that.

Anyway, when I first arrived at Japanese Knotweed Solutions, one of the first things I did was to update our marketing statistics. What we had at the time was a lot of information, but not much ability to make sense of it. I worked through the data and produced a few key graphs which I could present to the directors on a weekly basis (many of them with £ signs).

This resulted in better understanding of seasonal variations in the business, better control of cash flow and crucially, an ability to identify which marketing expenses were bringing in trade, and which were not paying for themselves. This led to measurable improvements in the bottom line.

But data isn’t just about graphs and statistics.

I am very proud of Japanese Knotweed Solutions’ Job Tracking system, which I put in place in 2014.

This system has gradually been evolving new features and it now performs real-time monitoring of all of our site revisits to over 650 active sites, treatment reports for our clients and the status of every one of the thousands of sites we have treated over more than a decade. It also holds valuable data about insurance backed guarantees and Japanese knotweed treatments in different areas of the UK; growth patterns, application timings and treatment results. It basically tells our teams where to go, and when.

At some point in 2019, I predict it will become self-aware and try to nuke Japanese knotweed sites all over the country. But until then, it’s extremely useful.

I know that all sounds like a lot of confusing information, so here’s one very meaningful statistic:

I am very pleased to confirm that JKSL have visited every single one of our clients’ current sites over the 2015-16 season, including visits for winter clearance, as recommended in the EA Code of Practice

Chris Oliver
Operations Manager