The pandemic and resulting economic crisis have drastically altered everyday life for people and companies. Behavior changes such as panic buying, telecommuting on a mass scale, and the acceleration of digital transformation have created disruptions companies are racing to address. This requires short term flexibility, but also an increased capacity for adaptation in order to remain competitive in a re-ordered world.
We have seen a dramatic impact on supply chains, making demand more volatile and supply availability an ongoing challenge. Companies have been forced to reduce spending to maintain cash flow in hopes of weathering the storm. Across every industry, people are searching for innovative ways to increase efficiency, and find ways to do more with less. Enter analytics, stage right:
- Inventory Analytics: Who could have predicted the run on certain essential products such as toilet paper, hand sanitizers, and certain food items? This created demand volatility that manufacturers are rushing to adjust to prevent the collapse of the entire supply chain. Data analytics can provide insight-to-action information that can assist with raw material procurement, inventory stock allocation, plant capacity adjustments, etc. to ensure a continual flow of these essential goods. Can I reroute a shipment from one plant to another for quicker order fulfillment? How much should I restrict the number of orders from a certain customer or region to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of goods across the country? How much capacity can I increase to meet the increase in demand? These are all questions that analytics can help answer.
- Spend Analytics: Companies are understandably holding on to more cash during these uncertain times. They are evaluating their spending priorities to ensure there are enough resources to maintain essential operations. Machine learning algorithms and predictive analytics can assist with what-if spending scenarios. For example, showing the return on investment of a marketing campaign could help a company determine what percentage of the marketing budget should be spent on different types of media to maximize the sales opportunity.
- HR Analytics: COVID-19 infections have prevented many essential workers from coming to work, and that can have a domino effect. For example, there is the potential of potential major disruptions to the food supply chain because there aren’t enough healthy and available workers to process an upcoming backlog in the food supply. Instead of shutting down plants, companies can use analytics to identify adjustments to staffing assignments, workplace protocols, safety enhancement measures to create efficient solutions that could enable them to maintain operations while providing their workers a safe environment. These solutions could prevent the collapse of the food supply chain that would be catastrophic to everyone.