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Why do you love statistics?

Even if we don’t “love” statistics, they are crucial for effective local services…

 

Why do you love stats? It is a tricky question that might not make your Valentine date melt with delight. The question is especially difficult if you weren’t in top set at school. (For the record I was bottom set maths, and only just scraped a pass following lots of after school tutoring). Anyway back to stats. Here at Red Potato, we’ve embraced statistics with the zeal that a former smoker embraces data on the dangers of passive smoking.

The reason for our zeal is because without data too many of the big political and economic decisions are made on “gut” instinct. Don’t worry I’m going to rehearse points made previously about Brexit, Trump election and Russian bots on Facebook. My point is that without statistics the less glamorous decisions that effect us locally on road improvements, changes to parking schemes, or where and why a company decides to locate, are determined by those who shout loudest.

Local decisions probably have more effect on our daily life than Brexit & Trump, yet without statistics, data and insight these local decisions would be made based on hunch and gut instinct. So, it really is in all our interests to look beyond the rhetoric and ask “where is your evidence for that statement?”  And the answer to that question lies with lovely statistics!

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School students learn about warehousing from Ocado

School students find out about cool opportunities in warehousing and distribution

 

Wow that was really cool!  Walking through the fridge room at the Ocado warehouse felt like stepping out into the Arctic wilderness – except we were surrounded by ice cream packs!  It was another surprise, on a visit that took a ice axe to our assumptions about warehousing and distribution.

We are very grateful to Ocado for agreeing to host a group of young people at their warehouse and fulfilment centre. The visit by the students from Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, was the culmination of several weeks preparation work.  All of the school students were hugely impressed by this technology driven business.

Why visit a warehouse?

Red Potato works closely with many schools in Hertfordshire.  Also because of our work as an Enterprise Adviser we knew that many businesses, like Ocado are really keen to welcome young people into their business.  So we were really happy to connect the school students with the Ocado team.

So what is the big deal about the “fridge room“? Well, going into the freezer room was a challenge laid down by our Ocado guide as he showed us around the warehouse and fulfilment centre.   We were with a group of 16 & 17 year old school students who readily accepted the challenge.  It has to be said that the adults were less keen!  The challenge of walking into a freezer to voluntarily get extremely cold – even if you are surrounded by ice cream, didn’t sound good.  We all did it of course.  But, walking into the fridge room at -18 degrees was an experience that most people won’t repeat in a hurry!

The Future

The scale, pace and sophistication of the warehouse surprised everyone.  We were also given a privileged view of the software behind the operation, which was also very interesting.  Technology is driving major changes in warehousing and distribution.  It would be great to think that this visit has influencing future career choices.  Will some of the students who visited Ocado, one day be designing the next generation of warehousing and distribution companies?  We sincerely hope so.  But, predicting what is going to happen in this sector is fraught.  What we can say is that our shopping habits will change.  As our shopping habits change, so the warehousing and distribution sector will also change as it attempts to keep up with us as consumers.  We feel very lucky to have had a glimpse at some of the exciting developments at Ocado and how this company is planning for the future.