Posted on: April 29, 2020 | 4 min read

Analytics is Mission Critical:  Planning the Comeback with Data

When will the economy be turned back on?  What industries, states or cities are reopening and when?  When will my customers start buying again like they used to - or will everything be different?  

The most common word mentioned during hundreds of conversations I've had with customers, experts, partners, leaders, neighbors,  and friends the last several weeks:  uncertainty.

Making informed decisions and driving actions for your business is always critical, but now it's imperative.

This first post broadly explores 3 critical needs to plan not only for recovery, but to push ahead of competition:

  1. Establish a recovery planning insights team.
  2. Leverage external data blended with internal data to make decisions based on a new foundation of facts.
  3. Lean into analytics validating business knowledge.  Frequently.  

Forgive my leveraging Mr. Downey Jr.'s visual appeal here, but the (famous for me) statement made by him in the character known as Sherlock Holmes has been constantly flashing through my mind:

Bricks-without-Clay-copy

The first wave of crisis management seems to have passed for most of us, at least we hope.   While managing liquidity and continuing to make hard decisions around personnel, the breathing room and necessity to begin considering the road ahead is here.   Planning for the rest of this quarter and the next trying to understand what that landscape will be is critical, but remains well... uncertain. 

What focus areas of the business need attention first varies widely from industry to industry and business to business.  But one common theme among all, however, is needing to build a new fact base based on entirely new types, stratifications and frequently unavailable data.  No doubt that experience and knowledge of your business is critical, no one knows your business better than you.   However, leveraging an insights to blend with your tribal knowledge will be the foundation of moving with speed and discipline.  The need to make informed decisions based on prescriptive, predictive, and precise information could make or break strategy. 

So, now what. 

ESTABLISH YOUR RECOVERY INSIGHTS TEAM — OR PLAN TO HAVE ONE QUICKLY

Assess your in-house analytics platform and analyst capabilities.  Then decide if you have the team and capabilities or if you need to get some external assistance.   Be honest in your inventory, if you assume the speed for accurate answers, availability of data, and capability of personnel to process is there based on optimism... you may quickly find yourself staring at spreadsheets and making educated guesses.  

Every company has been prioritizing the construction and adoption of a modern data analytics platform, but the vast majority have been busy capitalizing on the long-run strong economy.   Understandably.  We all wish we had some things in place now that we didn't prioritize then.  So if it's not there, gap what's missing and find a way to quickly fill the gap.  

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.  If you think about that, you'll do things differently.”  - Warren Buffet

This recovery is critical not only to the financial health of your business but in understanding what your customer base expects from your brand and responding accurately.  Moving with partial visibility and confidence puts a lot at risk. 

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Understand decisions based only on historical data ARE a huge risk

The foundation is different, perhaps not massively for you and your business, but re-assessing business metrics and analysis assumptions are critical.  How you view your internal, historical data, or considering that a lot of it may be irrelevant if your marketplace needs have shifted dramatically for a while... or forever.

Don't despair; there is no lack of data for what you think your new norm is, and practically any data analytic platform can quickly be reconfigured based on one or many fact-based changes.  Pick the top 3 things you're confident are different and have the team get started.  Then the next 3 and so on.  But be clear and narrow in your use-case or scenario selection.  Trying to assess the new norm across the enterprise will take far too long, even for the best insights team around.  

lean in: objections to bringing "data science" to the boardroom must be Squashed

For years those in organizations big or small, spanning all industries that have confidently known senior leadership needed to get on board the data train have been fighting the good fight.  But far too often only winning small battles.  Convincing leadership of the need to have the insights team in (or right next to) the boardroom decisions has to happen.  If you're not confident you can persuade someone, the easiest thing I can tell you is contact me.  Outside of that, I'll offer this:

It always comes down to a single persons ability to understand how the other can see one nugget of value; after that it's pretty smooth sailing.  So match your personality types, you can't force someone to understand data the way you do, you have to understand how THEY need to consume it.  Pretty pictures, verbally, intensely detailed reports, maybe over a virtual happy hour - met them where they are and provide one nugget of value.  Then you're off to the races.

I've personally been in some form of serving since my first job.  Ultimately I was built to help people achieve happiness or success in some form or another.  I hope this information gave you even the smallest nudge toward that path and your businesses' successful emergence through this historical moment in time.

I look forward to my next effort, where I focus on particular areas of business and then certain industry perspectives.

 

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