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  • Peter Ikladios

Building Resiliency and Saving Money with Data Analytics

The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged almost every aspect of normal business life, and as with every economic crisis before 2020, it’s fundamentally changed how many professionals view their operations. One of the biggest changes that we’re currently seeing is a re-evaluation of how businesses gather, store, and analyze business data.

In a recent study by Yellowbrick, 95% of surveyed IT professionals said that COVID-19 had meant that technology was more central in peoples’ lives than ever before. However, this statistic isn’t particularly surprising. Technology has become the way we communicate with the world during lockdowns and social distancing measures, and there’s no wonder that businesses are having to adapt to this new normal.

But why are businesses having to adapt their data analytics and data warehouses in light of the pandemic, and how exactly can these new consumer trends help you save money? Let’s take a look.

Keeping Up With COVID-19

From customers to employees, managers to board members, everyone is using technology to conduct their business on a greater scale.

Business intelligence has always sought to understand consumer behaviour, economic patterns, and other data sets to predict their effects on a company’s profitability, employees, and practices. However, it’s safe to say that business intelligence and analytics advisory services weren’t prepared to see their profession upended by a global pandemic.

COVID-19 has demonstrated how vital it is for businesses to not only collect accurate data but also to act upon it promptly. The Retail and Consumer Goods Analytics Study found that 52% of businesses said their analytics had changed significantly or changed so they could react faster to changing consumer trends.

This changing of business intelligence practices isn’t limited to one industry, either. Industries that primarily operated physically, such as banking and financial services, have shown a greater uptake in digital adoption when compared to multi-channel industries like retail or entertainment.

Why Business Intelligence Needs To Adapt

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely interrupted life as we know it. This virus has infected millions of people around the world, and more than a million people have lost their lives to this new virus. Businesses are now having to balance keeping their employees safe with managing the economic impact of lockdowns, social distancing measures, and other policies that are now in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Business intelligence is, as always, a key part of maintaining business profitability, particularly during a time in which businesses need to respond rapidly to changing economic conditions.

With the ability to analyze consumer demand in the wake of increasing uncertainty, respond to supply chain disruptions as suppliers and courier companies adapt to the pandemic, and forecast the impact of risk aversion practices on business processes, business intelligence has never been more vital to companies trading in 2020.

However, that’s not to say that adapting to new data analytics will be easy, particularly given that many organizations will need new data warehouse pipelines and to rethink their data modelling approaches. Improving business intelligence processes during the COVID-19 pandemic is yet another expense that businesses must face in order to survive until the pandemic subsides.

With all of that in mind, you may still be wondering how improving your business intelligence processes can make your business more resilient to change and even save you money in the long run.

Using Data to Manage Employees

A recent case study from McKinsey shows how business intelligence and data analytics services can be used to better manage employees during COVID-19 and, by extension, health events like seasonal flu or smaller epidemics.

This case study describes how one retail company used the existing data they had stored regarding their employees - such as their address and how they commuted to work - and paired this with location-specific COVID-19 data. Their business intelligence department could then use this data to inform store opening hours and management of the local workforce.

This is a fantastic demonstration of how modern business intelligence processes can help your organization save money and prepare themselves for the future, particularly as this kind of process can be adapted to many other location-based events, such as natural disasters, weather patterns, or even seasonal flu and local disease outbreaks.

With in-person businesses like traditional retail shops and financial services being the hardest hit by lockdowns, using this data to manage the spread of disease amongst your workforce is a powerful tool in helping your business to stay open. Not only that, but by implementing procedures like temporary store closures, shortened opening hours, or putting vulnerable staff on leave, businesses can avoid the heavy costs that come with sick leave.

Data Analytics to Optimize Workflow

It used to be the case that data crunching was a task only done on a limited basis, because processing and storing data on in-house hardware once came at a significant cost. However, with the growth of cloud computing, the rise of SaaS businesses, and the increasing affordability of in-house solutions, data analytics is available to more people than ever before.

During COVID-19, many businesses realised that while traditional business intelligence teams were adapting well to the crisis, they needed to give other specialists access to their data warehouse. This way, each department could directly access the data analytics they needed to perform at peak efficiency, while the amount of people needed to relay data through a business was drastically reduced.

When departments have access to the data they need without needing an intermediary, not only does it save a company labor costs, but also it helps each team to respond quickly and efficiently to a recent or forecasted event.

As an example, this would mean that marketing departments could quickly respond to a drop in sales by producing a marketing campaign to target the customers they’d lost. Or, it could give purchasing teams the power to respond to trending products by quickly re-ordering stock before suppliers raise their prices.

Data Analytics for Risk Management

Risk management has become a bigger priority for businesses, both in protecting their employees against COVID-19 and their profitability against the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. Business intelligence has always held a major role in business because it’s invaluable for risk assessment and management, but with the threat of a global pandemic that scientists estimate will last through 2021 and beyond, it’s become even more vital to a business’ survival.

We mentioned earlier that business intelligence and analytics managed services can help mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission to and between employees, which will be a significant part of ensuring that businesses continue to survive through the pandemic. However, risk management doesn’t begin and end with COVID-19.

While it can be argued that extensive risk management procedures will have the greatest impact during the pandemic, that doesn’t mean that they won’t continue to provide value, help businesses save money, and improve resiliency in the future.

With that in mind, using analytics and data warehousing strategies to develop robust risk management systems now is an invaluable practice that businesses of every size need to consider implementing. It may be a significant expense, particularly when you’re already contending with local lockdowns and an economic downturn, but it’s one that will pay off in dividends.

Data Analytics to Understand Customer Hesitations

With many of your customers unemployed, working remotely, or in unsecure employment, it’s understandable that businesses like yours are struggling because of customer hesitation. After all, it’s only logical that customers will avoid spending if they’re not sure of their financial future. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything to encourage them back to your product or services.

Business intelligence can be an invaluable tool to help you identify not only which of your customers are spending less, but why they’re tightening their wallets. While you might not be able to prevent customers from leaving entirely, this data analytics practice can help you to identify those customers that are on the verge of becoming less valuable. This can both help you save money in wasted marketing efforts, as well as help develop further understanding of customer trends for future financial hardships.

A key part of business analytics is building an understanding of trends so you can predict them and put procedures in place ahead of time, which is why the COVID-19 pandemic can be a valuable period for you to develop your business intelligence around customer trends.

How Analytics Managed Services Help Business Intelligence

Whether you’re new to data analytics or you’re struggling to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, hiring analytics advisory services can help you to build procedures that future-proof your business while saving it money. We can help you understand how to implement robust data warehouse standards, build custom solutions to respond to changing consumer trends, and adapt to the best current business intelligence trends and practices.

To learn more, please drop our friendly team a line, and we’d love to hear more about how we can help.

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