Crisis Creates New Opportunities for Data-Driven Businesses

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Analytics and data are changing every facet of our world. In The State of BI & Analytics, we expand on our original research, keeping you ahead of the curve on the world of analytics, data, and business intelligence.

The current global pandemic has united us all and challenges the way we do business. Organizations are adapting to a changing environment and are forced to make decisions that impact future success. Decisions around supply chains, reallocation of resources, and prioritization of investments: All require quick, agile decision-making and strong, thoughtful leadership.  

Sisense recently surveyed 500 companies to understand how they leverage data and analytics usage and the impact on future plans; the results reinforce how critical analytics are to businesses during times of crisis.  Organizations are leaning on data and insights to navigate a new path forward as they deal with the crisis, but also as they reset their businesses. 

State of BI & Analytics 2020

Analytics are essential in a crisis

Uncertainty often surfaces new opportunities as business leaders are forced to consider changes around key parts of the business. This can be disorienting but also empowering. When forced to make important decisions, business leaders use data to chart a course. Almost every industry is being disrupted — analytics are required not only for success in these industries but even for basic survival.

In the State of BI & Analytics Report, Sisense surveyed over 500 businesses and discovered that BI and analytics professionals remain optimistic as their data provides clarity in the face of monumental business changes. Nearly 90% of data professionals believe analytics can help them in these trying times, despite nearly 79% of businesses acknowledging they are losing customers and/or revenue because of COVID-19. Respondents report an increase in analytics use and new opportunities across all departments, further validating how data plays an essential role in times of crisis.

At Sisense, we are working with customers who are reinforcing these points. Acoer, a developer of blockchain-enabled technologies, delivered a real-time Coronavirus Hashlog, giving experts an understanding of the virus and trends from public datasets. Data became a critical asset for companies on the front lines fighting the virus, as well as for companies that were disrupted by it. 

Innovation in small companies leads to big changes across industries

Small companies lead the charge when it comes to the comprehensive use of data across the entire company. Larger companies are often (but not always) slower to adapt and can learn from smaller, more nimble companies that scale data and analytics across the organization. By identifying small, quick wins and empowering change agents to work across other departments, smaller companies can quickly build upon new opportunities.  

We learned that small businesses face different challenges and therefore shifted the most to adopt new use cases for analytics in response to the crisis. They lead larger enterprises in the use of analytics across every department, with nearly 70% of small businesses using analytics in operations, nearly 60% in finance, 50% in sales, and 45% in the product.

Soft Stuff Distributors, a small wholesale food distributor, saw business fall to 20% of its annual average by mid-March. It was time for a huge pivot, and it had to be quick. They quickly pivoted from selling directly to restaurants to sell directly to consumers (becoming essentially a grocery store). They began by targetting consumers coming directly to their website. The change to attract a new customer set provides a new revenue stream and also mitigated the potential business disruption.

“Consumers wanted to buy from us for years, but we said we don’t compete with the people who keep us in business,” CEO and President Lois Gamerman said. As reflected in the State of BI & Analytics Report, innovation at speed is where small companies shine. With access to data insights, Soft Stuff was able to ideate, strategize, and launch a B2C consumer model within three weeks.

State of BI & Analytics 2020

Data-driven companies are better able to pivot 

Companies are looking for innovative ways to pivot their business or rethink their business models. Often they use data to guide them, but collecting and analyzing the right data and tools isn’t always easy. It requires the business to elevate the role data plays. The charge is led by data professionals who act as change agents delivering insights throughout an organization, helping to create data-driven businesses.  

The State of BI & Analytics report also showed that companies are using their data in new ways. As a result of COVID-19, 55% of businesses shared that it forced agility into their organizations, leading to cost savings and stunting business disruption as well as improving efficiency.  Additionally, 47% created new ways to better connect with customers to improve upon traditional engagement models, while 45% leveraged predictive analytics to improve or change business outcomes. Larger companies are more focused on cutting costs than small businesses, which reinforces their need to act quickly to support customers and look for business efficiencies. 

Glytec, provider of insulin management software, saw its customers in the healthcare sector struggling to understand what was more important at the height of the pandemic: conserving personal protective equipment and limiting provider exposure to sick patients; or committing to a customized, high-touch insulin management program for each individual patient. Using data, the answer became clear, as Glytec supported patients with a new, elevated level of care when they needed it most.

Thriving and surviving with data

Every company is becoming a data company. While small businesses can adapt quickly to changing conditions, large companies can learn from them and thrive with the right data and analytics platform in place. The right insights allow your company, no matter the size or industry, to pick a new path, informed by data rather than gut instinct. 

As we move forward, industries are and will continue to depend upon data. While not surprising, our survey is the first of many data points that Sisense plans to release to share the perspective of various business leaders who aim to better understand the role and impact of data in industries and across global markets.

Ashley Kramer is a senior executive with over 15 years of experience scaling hypergrowth companies including Tableau, Alteryx, Amazon, Oracle, and NASA. She has a strong track record of transforming product and marketing organizations and effectively defining and delivering the end-to-end product strategy and vision. Ashley is passionate about data, analytics, AI, and machine learning.