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The Role of Analytics in Business Recovery from the Pandemic

Data is everywhere these days, and whether you like it or not, your company is a data-driven organization. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how business leaders think about their processes. Consumer expectations have changed overnight, and this has left many businesses scrambling to upgrade their workflows.

There’s no doubt that companies that have used the power of data have emerged stronger from the pandemic than those that haven’t capitalized on it.

Here are three examples of companies that used data to turn the crisis into opportunity.

A data-driven pivot for Soft Stuff Distributors

Soft Stuff was a successful business even before they committed to data-driven decision making. Founded in 1990, the Maryland-based company specialized in distributing confections and other desserts to restaurants, convention centers, and hotels.

2020 started well for the company, with orders increasing by 20% over the early months of 2019. However, as the ill-effects of the pandemic became clearer, demand dropped, and Soft Stuff was forced to face the fact that they could not survive with their legacy business model.

The data on their analytics platform indicated that the drop in demand was real and would likely last for a long time. “By the 13th of March, knowing what we were doing last year versus this year and tracking it with analytics, we saw stuff was going on. It was bubbling,” says Lois Gamerman, Soft Stuff’s president and CEO in an interview for Sisense’s blog.

With the majority of their customers shut, Soft Serve decided to pivot to becoming a food retail business. Analytics helped inform this choice as well. Soft Serve was able to feed legacy data detailing website visits and behavior into their analytics platform and model demand.

“We started to gather this data not ever thinking we would go to B2C, but still having this data in our back pocket to produce a business case that was more B2C-centric,” explains Darren Klinefelter, the company’s business operations lead.

Analytics continues to serve them well as the crisis unfolds. The company expects to be back to 80% of its pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year.

Reorganized digital service flows at CDL

CDL is an insurance provider based out in the UK. The insurance industry has been under severe strain since the pandemic hit. CDL has found it challenging to maintain low response lag times to queries from customers during this time. Like Soft Stuff, CDL had a business continuity plan in place thanks to having moved to the cloud prior to the crisis.

The company already had a work-from-home policy in place and pre-empted the government’s lockdown measures by two weeks. Despite these measures, CDL found it challenging to deal with the increased volume of claims. Service incident reporting was surging, and to handle claims better, CDL relied on its analytics application to track customer service tickets.

The company also released a new customer self-service portal that allowed the team to reference customer claim data more easily, resulting in a 50% reduction in desk call volume.

As the pandemic rages through Europe and governments reimpose lockdowns, monitoring employee productivity is critical.

“We have quite a well-formed structure of management and line managers from top to bottom throughout the company,” says Adrian Japp, Quality Manager at CDL, in a recent Diginomica article. “So, equipping all the line managers with the tools they need to make sure that they can contact their teams and keep in touch with them every day, and record where they are, was key to what we were doing.”

Thanks to operational productivity analytics, CDL ensures it remains as vigilantly customer-centric as ever, no matter what the work situation is like.

“We measure quite a few different things within the (analytics) plugin to make sure that we have got that complete picture,” Japp continues. “We have got trend analysis on that and we use that information in our meetings on business continuity, which happen three times a week.”

Predicting surges and rerouting queues at Airports

The United Nations World Tourism Organization predicts that industry revenues will shrink by $1.2 trillion in 2020. The challenge in the industry has been to move away from analytics that looks back to predictive analytics. Airports have been among the biggest beneficiaries of predictive analytics and have been using them to enforce new guidelines.

“Our industry must transform the passenger experience to increase traveler safety while balancing economic pressures from slow customer demand.” asserts Sebastien Fabre, VP Airlines and Airports at SITA in a piece for Arabian Aerospace. “To successfully walk this tightrope and navigate a return to the skies for viable volumes of passengers, airports and airlines need to assimilate new information from governments and health officials, adapt operations immediately, and automate processes permanently.”

A no-touch travel alternative has been implemented in San Francisco International Airport. Passengers check into an app and navigate the process of baggage dropping, security, and making their way to departure gates without any close contact with others. A flow prediction model is also helping the airport manage surges in customer traffic to maintain contactless and physically distanced environments.

SFO isn’t the only airport that is using analytics to manage protocols during the pandemic. Aeroporti di Roma, which operates both of Rome’s airports, implemented cloud data analytics to improve customer service. The analytics package came in handy when Rome found itself at the center of the pandemic as it swept through Europe. The airports were able to react quickly and implement new guidelines with minimal disruption.

“Our digital strategy is a must-have enabler to deliver innovative, efficient, and high-quality services to passengers, retailers, companies, and the entire airport ecosystem,” says Floriana Chiarello, head of demand management at Aeroporti di Roma.

Better Analytics for a Better Future

There’s no doubt that analytics will continue to play a major role in our world as it evolves past the pandemic. Predictive analytics and intelligent dashboards will soon rule the roost in businesses, and the ones that embrace them will be best positioned for the future.

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