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How to Find Your ‘Perfect Pivot’ Using Data Analytics

One of the few certainties in any organization is change. Products and services, customers’ priorities, working practices – are all changing rapidly. So, for organizations to succeed, they must understand, embrace and be able to adapt to change. After all, survival is not about being the ‘fittest’ but it’s about being the most adaptable.

A significant challenge that change presents, is how to make the right decisions when it happens so you can fully benefit from it. That’s where data and analytics are vital: They can help you make the right decisions to shape your organization’s future, both near- and long-term. The right data and analytics can help you spot trends and patterns that show what works and what doesn’t, and now, with advanced techniques like predictive analytics, machine learning, and sentiment analysis, they can even anticipate what changes are needed to succeed in the future.

The COVID-19 pandemic — When pivots must outpace evolution

Change is usually gradual. Wise organizations operate a continual process of incremental innovation to keep up with it. We only have to think of the many iterations of Microsoft Windows or Mac OS, which use and respond to new technological capabilities, user requirements and ways of working that have evolved year after year. However, occasionally, change is so sudden and seismic that evolution must make way for revolution. A sharp ‘pivot’ is necessary.

The COVID-19 pandemic is one of those times: It arrived fast, hit hard, and it overturned entire industries. The extreme nature of its effects on organizations has demanded that they pivot or die. No company or brand is immune.

In some cases, COVID-19 has sent organizations over the edge. Big names like Hertz and JC Penney have filed for bankruptcy since the start of the pandemic. Others are on the brink of what the New York Times calls a “tidal wave of bankruptcies.” Many of these companies have not been agile enough to embrace change before the pandemic, so they were in no position to make dramatic switches when the crisis arrived. Other organizations are more fortunate, because they have the wisdom to put data at the heart of their decision-making and they are prepared to pivot sharply based on this data analytics.

We’ll see how.

Companies say that data and analytics can help them thrive

When facing a crisis, it’s essential to pick the right course of action, figure out when and how to do it, and then act quickly. That’s why data and analytics become even more vital to organizations surviving and thriving when conditions are so difficult and so out-of-the-ordinary. In our State of BI & Analytics Report, we discovered just how critical analytics are to businesses during times of market turmoil, because they offer a degree of certainty.

As a result, 49% of companies surveyed said data analytics were more or much more important than before COVID-19, and respondents reported an increase in analytics use and new opportunities across all departments. 50% of survey respondents told us they use data more often or much more often than before COVID-19, and, despite mounting financial pressures since the start of the pandemic, 65% are increasing budget or maintaining spend on data analytics.

State of BI & Analytics Report, - Sisense
State of BI & Analytics Report [source: Sisense]
In fact, despite the challenges of COVID-19 — and in some cases because of them — nearly half of respondents are seeing opportunities as a result of COVID-19:

  • 46% reported new business opportunities as a result,
  • 28% mention that the potential of the post-COVID-19 global situation will create new growth opportunities, and
  • 34% intend to grow their investment in data resources and data analytics tools because such tools are the best way to capture these new opportunities.

Industry sectors that have been hardest hit by the crisis, such as travel and manufacturing, and sectors at the sharp end of efforts to fight the pandemic, such as healthcare and government, have found it necessary to pivot rapidly and refocus their business models or their resource planning, using data and analytics. That’s why analytics has become increasingly essential to companies in this time of crisis.

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The best way to demonstrate this is to see what challenges certain companies have come up against, how they’ve used data and analytics to weather the COVID-19 storm, and even emerge healthier.

Analytics helps Soft Stuff survive the COVID-19

Soft Stuff Distributors is a wholesale food distributor for the hospitality and catering trade. Its customers are mainly restaurants, hotels, convention centers, and schools. COVID-19 hit the trade hard and by March 2020, Soft Stuff experienced a drastic drop in business, falling to 20% of where it had been at the same time in 2019.

Not knowing if and when the hospitality trade would rebound, Soft Stuff needed to pivot its business model to survive. Sisense analytics became a critical tool to enable such a pivot. Using Sisense, Soft Stuff’s leadership quickly identified that something was changing and that it needed to do something drastic to survive as a business. Analytics showed that Soft Stuff couldn’t remain a food distributor to the trade, but it could pivot and start selling to consumers— essentially, becoming an online grocery store.

The Sisense platform helped Soft Stuff plan and develop Shop Soft Stuff — its new business-to-consumer venture — and is now a critical tool as the company tries to grow its new business. With the nature of the business drastically changed since COVID-19, the company is now using data and analytics to hone the selection of products it offers consumers and the menu of items it continues to offer trade customers.

Owing to the company’s timely pivot, revenues began to climb again, and the CEO hopes that they’ll return to 80% of last year’s numbers within four months. The foundation of this recovery has been data-driven decision making.

Using data analytics to decelerate and treat COVID-19: Luma Health

Luma Health is a software platform offering healthcare providers with a means to communicate with patients, while enabling providers to optimize their scheduling. When the COVID-19 crisis hit, Luma’s data science teams used the analytics from Sisense for Cloud Data Teams to help get through the crisis.

Analytics enabled them to enhance patient-provider communications and rapidly provide agile and innovative messaging and screening solutions free of charge during COVID-19. The messaging system was made available to anyone who needed to use the platform, free of charge, whether they were customers or not, and it was quickly extended to all healthcare organizations. With this in place, Luma could share patient metrics with providers to identify behavior patterns, and where necessary, trigger automatic schedule changes that increased the efficiency of care systems.

Using Sisense for Cloud Data Teams to harness the power of data and analytics, Luna Health built a solution to cover all use cases in just three weeks. Now, it is using data to anticipate the future impact of COVID-19 on healthcare and help create an end-to-end solution for tackling the pandemic.

Why you need data and analytics to find your perfect pivot

We’ve learned that change is inevitable, and that ongoing success requires the capability to embrace change. It stands to reason that the faster, and the more agile you can change, the more successful you can be.

When change becomes sudden and dramatic, like the changes precipitated by the COVID-19, gradual alteration is insufficient. A swift pivot becomes imperative. And any pivot will be most effective when it’s based on accurate data and analytics, in real-time. We have seen how data and analytics can inform and shape decisions that can radically change the fortunes of companies that use them to pivot. Indeed, data and analytics can prove to be the difference between stagnation and growth, or even more drastically, between failure and survival.

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