Investments in Data Analytics Drive Agility for Rewards Network

PYMNTS eBook, Rewards Network

Investments in technology, data science and analytics pay dividends in uncertain times, Rewards Network Chief Product Officer James Roedding writes in the new PYMNTS eBook, “The Implications of Uncertainty.”


The executive team at Rewards Network believes that the best thing we can do to prepare for uncertainty and risk is to grow and strengthen our core operations. The more margin and agility our business builds into our operations, the more likely we will be able to weather any storm. Our predominant use of technology, data and analytics is in service of helping improve our core operations and customer experience.

Rewards Network relies on both traditional business intelligence to guide decision-making as well as artificial intelligence (AI) to automate and augment workflows. Analytical expertise and technical skills enable us to quickly respond to changes in our customers, the market and the overall economy. Examples of this range from machine learning credit models, which performed exceptionally well during the “stress test” that COVID-19 presented, to neural networks that find patterns in data. Combining technology and data science adds more intelligence to robotic process automation flows, allowing our team to focus on higher-value work that benefits from human intelligence. Rewards Network’s AI models find patterns at a scale beyond human capacity, delivering higher quality decisions and more consistent output. This expands and improves customer service.

Investment and reliance on data science and AI was critical to our success during COVID-19 and has driven growth since. As part of managing that crisis, we built several data-driven tools that track both risks to and opportunities for our business. One of these tracks the impact macro trends have on our broad restaurant customer base. Our Same-Store-Sales engine allows us to track daily trends in opening hours, foot traffic and average ticket prices, which are the key drivers of total restaurant sales. Our extensive data set and historical perspective allow us to control for seasonality and provide a comprehensive view of how consumers are behaving across different restaurant segments and geographies. This engine was critical to understanding trends and momentum during COVID-19 and enabled us to predict the impact on our business during winter months and as markets reopened. It continues to play a vital role in our success as we track consumer response to market weakness, debt exposure and other economic drivers — translating this into expected spend across our restaurants.

The second investment area was enhancing our customer feedback loop to inform our product, marketing and distribution strategies. The aggregation and analysis of our customer satisfaction surveys, engagement levels with our platform, and granular tracking of our service touch points and triggers for customer service provide a single view of trends. These insights, both at a summary and detailed level, are critical to keeping a close pulse on customers — providing the earliest indicators of risks and opportunities.

These investments in technology, data science and analytics facilitate regular reviews of macro and customer trends, driving better strategic decisions.