As the world contends with the Covid-19 pandemic and its profound impact across regions and industries, companies are not only looking for ways to safeguard their people and customers but also their business’ long-term future – read how data & analytics can help your business deal with the crisis. 

The ability to make good, timely decisions will be critical to how well businesses survive this crisis. It will also impact how well they can position themselves on a trajectory of future profitable growth when things begin to return to a ‘new normal’.

Cloud-based data platforms and data & analytics have a large role to play in this—from stabilizing the business to laying the foundations of new processes and predicting what’s next. Therefore, it is critical that you have short, medium and long-term data-driven plans in place as quickly as possible to help make informed decisions. 

Here are the three key data-driven pathways—resilience, realignment and recovery—to maximize your chances of emerging with prosperity from the Covid-19 crisis. 

The power of data on the pathways to prosperity 

Decision-making becomes more challenging during periods of stress, especially where there is uncertainty about the future. To remain successful, data must underlie every aspect of the business, providing critical input to readjust plans and predictions, as well as guide and automate decision-making.

Data has already played a significant role in the response to the crisis. Healthcare providers are leveraging data from countries that were affected earlier by the pandemic to forecast needs for hospital beds, masks and ventilators. Grocery retailers are utilizing point-of-sale (POS) data to help distributors identify and ship the items most important to their customers. And telcos are using network traffic data to monitor and manage network capacity, build predictive capacity models, identify bottlenecks, and prioritize and plan network expansion decisions. 

It’s no wonder that 75% of business intelligence, data & analytics professionals are working harder and longer hours now than before the pandemic, according to Forrester. 

Applying data & analytics to every phase of your crisis strategy 

It’s positive that now more than ever, many organizations are striving to make data & analytics a centerpiece of their culture and way of doing business. Here are some top tips on how you can develop a data-driven response to a crisis.

  • Phase #1: resilience—fine-tune your data platform and leverage the cloud

During the immediate response, data & analytics professionals will need to revisit their resilience plans for their data platform to ensure it stands up in the current operating environment. Ensuring that performance doesn’t suffer is paramount, especially where workloads and data volumes have increased. And maintenance is essential to ensure data is robust—automating key tasks such as database tuning, automated indexes, data distribution and compression.

The ability to rapidly onboard new data and provide access to real-time insights will also grow in importance. As will the ability to maintain the security and integrity of data during periods of remote working. This too is where the flexibility of cloud will play its part if you’re looking to scale-up your data infrastructure.

A cloud is a powerful tool when it comes to allowing large numbers of people to access large volumes of data in real-time. Not only does it improve the ease of access and shareability of data it also increases agility and flexibility. This means you can not only turn data into value faster than ever before but also quickly adapt as the market and wider economic landscape evolve.

  • Phase #2: realignment—optimize and modernize your data and infrastructure 

The use of data & analytics during this phase is critically important if you are to navigate the rocky waters of a recession. Data & analytics enable companies to objectively evaluate multiple business situations, such as how to manage uncertain supply and demand, assess and mitigate supplier risk, adjust to disruptions in operations and supply chains, and adapt to sharp changes in consumer confidence and priorities.

Understanding the changing patterns of consumers is top of mind for many of the industries most impacted by the pandemic as multiple changes in behavior are already evident. For example, Amazon has dramatically ramped up its fulfillment capacity while online grocery marketplaces have had to adapt to huge increases in deliveries of fresh vegetables to meet demand. 

Optimising existing data & analytics processes—such as developing a 360-degree view of the customer or product or consolidating data on to a consistent platform or into a set of processes—can be effective to streamline decision-making.

  • Phase #3: recovery—invest in tools that focus on speed, performance, scale, and future growth

When businesses shift toward recovery, more companies will need to start to ramp up their deployment of AI-enabled solutions to boost revenue and renew top-line growth. AI and ML provide the ability to analyze data from vast numbers of sources that can discover emerging trends and anticipate potential future shocks.

Analyzing immense volumes of data to learn underlying patterns, enables you to make complex decisions and predict human behavior, among many other things. AI-enabled systems also continuously learn and adapt, which means they can optimize the insights and predictions they produce over time.

As we spend more and more of our daily lives online, both as workers and consumers, we expect ML and advanced data & analytics to be put to use to detect new consumption patterns and deliver hyper-personalized products and services. This should be part of your organization’s long-term approach, ensuring you can analyze data at scale to unlock the true value of it and operate in an agile manner with the right supporting IT infrastructure—most likely cloud-based—as well as open up data and eliminate any silos. 

Get the most out of your data & analytics

Embracing the flexibility of the cloud is a must. Uniting and analyzing data from various sources into a centralized cloud-based data platform will allow the numbers to do the talking. This foundation enables businesses to solve complex challenges and run smarter—driving change with actionable insights at fast speeds. 

This speed to value is critical in such a fast-moving uncertain economic outlook to harness prosperity. Now is the time to push the boundaries of what’s possible with data at every step of your Covid-19 crisis strategy to ensure you emerge positioned for future profitable growth.

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