As the coronavirus pandemic swept across the United States, leaders at all levels found themselves faced with the sudden need to make key decisions. Some did so successfully, others did not. According to a recent article from BDO USA, one of the main distinguishers of those who made good leadership decisions during this time was basing decisions upon data analytics, rather than just judgement or gut feelings.
We have access to a wealth of data and utilizing that data can help businesses succeed in making key decisions. Savvy leaders used the data available to them to inform their decisions in the midst of the recent crisis. Here are some lessons about data usage that businesses should learn from the COVID-19 pandemic:
Your insights can only be as good as the data upon which they are based. The coronavirus pandemic has made clear the fact that many businesses have a big “Data Problem.” In order to achieve success with data analytics, you need to refine your data by fixing common issues such as inconsistencies, duplications, and incomplete records. Streamlining your data gathering process will have a huge impact on your ability to harness data analytics.
The culture you establish and cultivate within your organization impacts your ability to adapt to advanced data usage. If your business has a culture that is resistant to trying new things, it will make your attempts at drawing on data for decision making much more difficult. The author offers the following tips for creating a more data-friendly business culture:
- Promote the idea that data is invaluable.
- Use technology (e.g., dashboards that link real-time data) to create real-time sharing and insights.
- Encourage the sharing of data and analysis among your team.
- Create clear policies and practices for data stewardship and use.
- Offer data training to your entire team and encourage them to draw on the lessons they learn.
- Incorporate data know-how as a criterion during the hiring process.
- Acknowledge and reward employees who handle data well to inspire your whole team to strive for greater understanding.
- Lead by example in drawing on data to support your decisions and reasoning.
- Take the time to consider the ethical and privacy implications of data usage.
In times of crisis, you should draw on data analytics to guide your response. That does not mean starting complex new analyses; rather, assuming that you have a reasonably strong data foundation, draw on the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you currently track. Consider adding KPIs for tracking the following into your arsenal: financial health, capital spending, operational health, employee health, and customer health.
The article concludes with a brief look at how to apply data analytics to businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, it examines two areas:
- Data analytics as applied to essential businesses: Use predictive insights based on data to establish the most high-demand products, the times of day or month when certain products are in higher demand, and/or how to optimize customer flow.
- Data analytics as applied to nonessential businesses: Draw on data to determine how much liquidity to seek, where to cut costs, and how to realign the business model or team to best respond to the crisis.
For further details, click here to read the article in full at BDO USA