A key lesson from the COVID-19 crisis is that those businesses that have survived, coped, and even thrived during the worst of this crisis have one thing in common - a solid foundation of data and analytics capabilities.
Mature data capabilities have strongly correlated to corporate resilience during the pandemic. A sampling of studies and surveys conducted by academia, analysts, and industry think-tanks over the last three months provides more examples of the importance of data management and analytics capabilities in dealing with crises like this and in supporting the arguably tougher process of recovery.
Those with robust data capabilities have coped far better and taken bolder decisions, quicker, across multiple and cross-cutting resiliency themes such as but not limited to:
- Identifying alternative supply-chains and next best pathways for people, goods, and services
- Predicting business and recovery scenarios based on forecasted impact on operations
- Combining organisational data with 3rd party and public data to support decisions
- Discovering pockets of operational fragility and opportunities for automation
Although data management and analytics capabilities have now become a necessity in certain sectors due to the pandemic, they’ve been on the radar of CxOs for a long time. For many, it has taken time to look beyond shiny new platforms that often don’t mix well with their legacy enterprise systems and to start building fundamental capabilities around data management, governance, quality, accessibility, and monetisation.
This approach towards creating a data-driven culture of doing business has now proven to be necessary for surviving the next big disruption, be it political, regulatory, new technology, or another virus.
There Was Something Unique About Corporate Decision-Making During The Crisis
While the effectiveness of data-driven organisations has been the subject of many previous management case studies, the current crisis has provided some great insights for perceptive leaders around what approaches helped deliver the best outcomes. Specifically, two unique characteristics about corporate decision making caught our eye:
- A great sense of urgency – The pandemic proved that large scale change can produce quick results when instigated with a sense of urgency supported by the highest levels of leadership. There were mistakes and missteps, but large corporations were suddenly forced to make decisions at the speed of startups and operating like they never imagined was possible. Re-arranging entire supply chains, shifting entire operations online, optimising and planning infrastructure for highly polarized workloads in a matter of days became possible. All decision-making was suddenly very data-driven and highly malleable to reach desired outcomes.
- Accelerated adoption of data and analytics – As economies face an imminent depression some companies may never be able to recover in time, but some others are staying ahead of the curve by accelerating their data and analytics programmes. Months’ worth of meetings and grandiose thinking has given way to an approach rooted in the reality of today. Start small and scale fast whilst keeping a laser focus on outcomes that need to be achieved.
Post-pandemic CxO priorities will fall into the same classic themes of revenue recovery, cost management, and organisational agility, that form the basis of any digital transformation programme.
- Get serious about data management and start building capability: Large-scale change and transformation programmes often fail when data management is an afterthought. Making data requirements and data architectures fundamental to the transformation agenda and ensuring an agile operating model will be a source of enduring success and sustained benefits.
- Focus on the most valuable and the most vulnerable customer journeys: Picking the most brittle business processes as transformation candidates and the ones that deliver the most customer value will keep efforts and resources aligned to the most desired outcomes. This was driven by necessity during the pandemic and for good reason. Outcome orientation is in our view is key to realising value rapidly.
- There is no need for investment paranoia: It is highly likely that the technology stack and tools needed to build foundational data capabilities are already available within the company and there is no need for undue spending paranoia. Any spending needed to get the basics right, however, will be worth every penny.
- Passionately foster data-driven decision making across the organisation: It is bound to feel uncomfortable at first as tribal knowledge and people’s opinions are questioned and tested, but when benefits start to become perceptible, the toughest opposition will melt and opinion silos will soon be a thing of the fast. This will be easier said than done and will demand empathetic leadership at the top driving the change in culture.
The road ahead will be unmistakably difficult for many organisations. The ones that will eventually come out on top will be more resilient than ever before. And it will not be down to luck or Darwinian natural selection, but objectivity, grit and meticulous analysis of battles both won and lost.
Blog by Shakti Mohapatra, Coeus Consulting
Find out more about Coeus Consulting's Data & Analytics capabilities here.
View our 2020 CIO and IT Leadership Survey 'Beyond Technology: How Can Organisations Drive Value From Data Assets?' report here.