Peter Drucker famously analyzed unpredictable social, political, and economic changes to the business landscape in The Age of Discontinuity, identifying situations where businesses must adapt immediately to mitigate losses or take advantage of opportunities. The widespread, unforeseen, and swift effects of the coronavirus pandemic have shown that businesses must be more prepared and agile than ever to keep up, and being data-driven is key to survival.
Our world’s sudden and wholesale shift to working remotely and with social distancing has been both challenging and rewarding, depending on your degree of preparedness, available opportunities, and flexibility. Business models have been tried and tested with shifts to remote work and contactless sales. The explosive growth of video conferencing and shared work platforms has never been so rapid. How has being data-driven assisted these new technologies?
- New Need – Using the latest available data to quickly assess current needs in supplies and services enables companies to respond rapidly to them by ramping up capacity and capabilities.
- New Industries – Entire new industries are launching or swiftly expanding to take advantage of new and dramatically increased demand for online ordering, contactless purchasing, sanitation, delivery of every kind, and more. Keeping abreast of patterns of activity and demand allow businesses to utilize opportunities for growth and new directions to expand.
- Information Technology – IT departments have never been more crucial to business than in the current remote-work climate. As uncertainty grows about the future of office spaces and even public shopping spaces, IT departments will be called upon to innovate and support rapidly expanding options for work and commerce outside traditional venues.
Supply chain interruptions, unemployment, and different government responses to the pandemic have created an entirely new terrain for our global economy. The underlying data of viral spread and human movement have informed decisions at every level of government and business.
- Supply Chain – Data on the spread and intensity of coronavirus infections can help you predict supply chain interruptions and respond proactively to limit interruptions.
- International Responses – The unexpected and unpredictable variation in different countries’ responses to the coronavirus highlight the need for real-time data for multinational companies to shift focuses between more open and more closed regions.
- Economic Uncertainty – With unemployment, changes in consumer spending patterns, and extraordinary unpredictability in economies the world over, current and frequently updated data enable businesses to pivot more quickly to support volatile shifts in spending.
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Never before have people clamored more aggressively and repeatedly for real-time data on the world around them. Infection rates, lockdown phases, reopening details, delivery choices, symptom checkers, contact tracking, fact checking — the list of details people seek daily (even multiple times per day) now is exponentially growing every day. Seeing companies who reflect and respond in thoughtful, responsible ways to that data encourages consumers to support those businesses with dollars. The reverse is, of course, also true, with rapid condemnation and avoidance of companies who misstep or even omit responses altogether. Current and well-interpreted data is crucial on both sides.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Businesses who plan to survive and thrive in the post-pandemic world can leverage data and the insights it provides to their advantage.
- Market Position – Examine and compare your pre- and post-pandemic business data. Did you slow down or expand operations? Did you lose money or become a market leader?
- Future – Where should you take your business from here? Are you poised to continue or expand as the pandemic continues or will you reach a breaking point? What indications can be gleaned from data?
- Attitude – The pandemic has greatly altered the ways we do business with consumers and each other, and how businesses themselves are run. What attitudes do consumers have about your business and how might your perspective and expectations have changed about consumers?
- Next Steps – What predictions can you make from recent business data? What do recent experiences dictate with regard to your next business decisions? Are there new projects you may want to take on based on your analysis?
- Be Prepared – How can you analyze business and other data to become more resilient in the future?
In this time when every business decision seems to be fraught with complications and uncertainties, taking advantage of data and the insights it provides can guide you through the turbulence to smart, effective choices, keeping your company on the right path.