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Using Data to Mitigate the Impact of COVID-19 on Today’s Businesses

As the concern over COVID-19 continues, companies globally are exploring actions they need to take now to maintain their business. This crisis has hammered organizations forcing layoffs, reducing services, and creating anxiety among leaders and employees alike.

The C-suite has a vital role in making sure the organization can function as concern mounts over the scale and impact of the pandemic. They are being forced to make tough decisions about how to operate amid the chaos. What should they focus on, where can they cut, and how to prepare for the new world as the crisis eventually lifts – these are the thoughts weighing heavy on leaders’ minds today. Pairing high levels of uncertainty with mass amounts of new information mean they have to forge ahead without the luxury of past experience to help navigate.

There is a reason for hope, however. Information, data insights, and technology have fundamentally changed our capacity to successfully manage a threat like this pandemic and adapt for the future. Taking advantage of your data effectively to guide business practice and improve the well-being of the organization and its employees is the single best option to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

Transforming data into actionable information and analytics that drive business decisions will fast-track the return to normalcy. Volumes of raw operational data are just waiting to be turned into valuable business intelligence assets that will draw the path forward.

Business intelligence helps leaders frame their strategy in three ways:

Looking at today

Understanding real-time or near real-time data trends will help prescribe rather than predict scenarios.

Having complete visibility into cash flows and other operational metrics is a critical first step to understanding the current business situation and achieving working capital performance goals.

Gaining access to available government incentives and programs and recognizing expense-reduction opportunities are a couple of examples of responding to the immediate cash-flow management challenges. Focusing on current business needs is integral to a companies’ overall COVID-19 risk assessment and action planning in the near term.

Looking to the future

The most critical analysis is a forward-looking perspective. Foresight provides organizations with the business and operating capabilities they need to position themselves for a successful post-crisis recovery.

A detailed assessment of future working capital and cash-flow requirements along with key business and division unit metrics will help to understand at what point, if any, is the continuation of certain operations no longer viable and suspending business activities preferable. Alternatively, the metrics could indicate what variable measures should or can be taken to ensure healthy operation.

Run scenario planning to ensure financing remains viable and to understand how much cash is needed and for how long. This informs considerations around such things as determining what capital investments can be postponed and which are required for creating a competitive advantage in the rebound. Gaining insight into end-to-end supply chain visibility for future demand planning, inventory management, and production planning and scheduling can ensure you have a robust framework for managing supply chain risk. Depending on what the financial scenario planning reveals, you may need to consider alternative financing options to support the future success of the business.

Looking back

Does the past predict the future? Maybe not, but it is the best way to protect us from being blindsided by any future structural shaking scenarios like this pandemic. Monitoring and measuring how the business gets through this crisis remains the best way to forecast for the future. Now is an excellent time to measure and evaluate business efficiencies, or inefficiencies, stemming from the alternate models of work that have been adopted.

There are two ways businesses can come through this crisis. You can use data to tell the story about the past, the present, and the future, or you can use a personal perspective (from gut instinct to experience). The problem with using your personal view is that it is often filled with bias and assumption. Using data is the only objective way to measure risk and lessen the impact of COVID-19 on today’s businesses.

Organizations that gain insight into their business in new and innovative ways will outperform those that don’t by making data-driven decisions that mitigate risk, drive innovation, and take advantage of opportunities for efficiency.

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The Changing Shape of Digital Transformation

The moment of truth – will COVID-19 be the tipping point for digital transformation.

 

If “necessity is the mother of invention,” than COVID-19 has forced business leaders all around the world to rethink their digital transformation strategies.

At its core, coronavirus is disruption. What it really is, is a disruption frenzy, as nations try to slow the virus, this pandemic is impacting our political environment, our healthcare system, our economy, and the way we use technology. When disruption comes, businesses must adapt or die. And, not just adapt but adapt better and faster than competitors.

The truth is, even before COVID-19, the business world was changing at a pace that was hard to keep up. Those businesses that had already embraced a culture of change and realized their digital transformation goals might have been better prepared for this disruption than others. For others, it’s been a challenge. A recent survey by Gartner reports that only 12% of organizations are highly prepared for the impact of coronavirus. This does not mean you should hunker down and wait out COVID-19, it’s time to rev up your digital engine and position yourself for growth when the pandemic subsides.

Here are the areas you should be focusing on:

Cloud first

As COVID-19 pushes businesses to their limit, there has never been a better time to focus on cloud strategies. With the rapid response to the pandemic, millions of people have shifted remote work, pushing companies to adopt cloud-based solutions at an unprecedented rate. Rapid to deploy, cloud-based solutions are the reason organizations around the world remain productive during this time. If there was ever a good time to migrate to the cloud, this is it.

Boost process automation

Unexpected circumstances place an added burden on the workforce. Consider automating repetitive processes to free up teams and allow them to focus on more meaningful work. Extending automation throughout the enterprise can help mitigate disruption and offer stability in times of uncertainty.

Harness the power of data

Now more than ever, business leaders need to analyze risks and develop the best methods for mitigating them. They need to know the effectiveness of the current recovery processes. To do this, they need to use data effectively to guide business decisions and improve the well-being of the organization and its employees. Fostering a data-driven organization galvanizes the vision of faster, better-informed decisions to enable businesses to return to normalcy sooner.

Be champions of collaboration

No matter the industry, digital collaboration platforms are the foundation of work during the pandemic. The success of operations today highly relies on the ability to collaborate in real-time and from anywhere. Many businesses are recognizing the need to improve collaboration to ensure business continuity now and into the future.

Deliver valuable experiences

As the coronavirus crisis accelerates the transition to a digital future, the shift to digital customer experience also hits fast-forward. Empathic tools such as service design and design thinking seek to address customers’ acute needs and forge stronger ties with the market in the post-COVID-19 era. Reimagining customer experience to meet the changing needs should drive your next steps in your digital transformation journey.

The new era of business reinvention is upon us. For most industries, revenues will fall in 2020, that’s a given. But companies can emerge stronger, more innovative, and more purposeful. By creating a forward-thinking, customer-focused digital company, leadership teams can mitigate today’s threat and accelerate into an eventual recovery.

 

COVID-19 Business Intelligence