Overcoming lockdown with data-driven approach

By: Rousseau Kluever, Managing Client Partner at Decision Inc.

Lockdown restrictions have affected all businesses, regardless of size or industry sector – resulting in many being forced to close their doors.

Those businesses who have been struggling – such as hairdressers, restaurants, clothing retailers, hotel and tourism operators – have had to dig deep to keep afloat. Unfortunately, even established retailers with a long history of operations have been forced into business rescue. Many companies who have been teetering on the edge to either close or branch out into other aspects of their service offerings cite the lockdown as the catalyst for this change.

Even though those in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), health, financial services, and food retail sectors have been doing well compared to other sectors, they still cannot ignore the market forces at hand. Job losses will have a direct impact on employees’ ability to repay debt, continue with their medical aid, and even buy as much food as they did before.

The new normal requires a different management approach to business. Simply returning to how things were done before will not be a sustainable approach in the future.

Even in adversity there are opportunities to reposition an organisation that is willing to find more innovative ways of challenging the status quo.

Use data to gain certainty in an uncertain world

Fundamental to this change is an understanding of what customers want, identifying future trends, and developing more customised offerings.

For example, delivery services have grown exceptionally well because restaurants, liquor stores, and even brick-and-mortar retailers have examined new business models and embraced mobile apps or online ordering in order to accommodate the requirements of an evolving market.

Central to capitalising on the opportunities that can be found, is to become a data-centric organisation. Data, when combined with technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and predictive analytics, is an invaluable asset, especially during market uncertainty.

Embrace a data-driven future for your organisation

It may seem to be a daunting task, but it simply comes down to leveraging the data that you have at hand and use it to support quick decision-making. Together with supporting technology – such as automation to support current processes and employees – organisations will be well-positioned to quickly innovate, adapt, and thrive in an uncertain world. In many respects, this will result in decision-makers having to assess how they have approached staff management in the past – especially as how it relates to upskilling and reskilling employees.

There is a need to equip people with the skills they need to benefit from the availability of more advanced technologies. Automation, for instance, can enhance what information workers are currently doing. So, instead of something seen as replacing jobs, it can give employees additional scope to deliver more value to the organisation.

But if the lockdown has proven anything, then it is the critical need to be open to change, start looking at different ways of doing things, and investing in data analysis to become more effective as the new normal becomes part of our daily lives.