How to lead through disruption with data and analtyics

How to lead through disruption with data and analtyics

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Everyday organisations of all sizes across all industries are dealing with the impact of COVID-19. For all it is overwhelming; where do I start, what is the right thing to do? Will I survive? Are there opportunities?  These are all common questions that have never been asked by so many at the same time.

The access to, and analysis of data has never been more critical to guide organisations through this period. For most organisations it will change their future forever, hopefully in a positive direction.

InfoCentric & Alex Solutions took inspiration from this topic to host a webinar entitled ‘Leading Through Change with Data and Analytics in a post COVID World’. The event included an insightful discussion with Neil Wilson, an experienced and accomplished business leader and a member of the InfoCentric and Alex Solutions advisory boards. Neil was the CEO of public company Oakton for 10 years and is currently CEO of the Victoria Racing Club. It was a pleasure to interview Neil, a long-time advocate for data analytics as a key driver of business performance and innovation. In the paragraphs below I have shared some of the key take-ways from our conversation.

COVID-19 & horizontal disruption

COVID-19 is a horizontal disruption. Everyone is simultaneously thinking about the degree of transformation they need to make in their business to survive and prosper. There has been a lot of discussion in recent times about businesses or industries being vertically disrupted by new entrants or by clever competitive technology. However, the COVID-19 situation is impacting every industry and disrupting all markets significantly. There will be stand out winners and catastrophic losers as a result. It is unlikely that no change, or incremental change will be enough in most businesses, and the pressure to make the changes as fast as possible will push up the risk levels of these changes.

A clear understanding of your busines model is critical, one that is informed & driven by data

Understanding business positions across the key dimensions of the business is critical. Organisation dimensions of Customer, Product/Service, Employee and Operations is a good way to categorise these positions. Look at these positions under three different scenarios – pre, during and post COVID-19. To do this effectively you will need to understand what data you have and be ready to prioritise data availability and access, as well as integrate new data.

Most organisations have data lakes, data warehouses and a range of analytic capabilities. Now, more than ever, you need to make sure that these platforms are optimised in the priority area of data availability and access. Consistent access to information that is automated as much as possible is the goal, to allow maximum time for business analysis and scenario modelling. A short, sharp assessment of time spent assembling information versus analysing will tell you how ready you are to effectively leverage relevant information to run business impact scenarios. Aim for 25% of time spent on assembly and 75% for analysis. You won’t have time to get all of this right up front, so prioritise and build your next generation COVID-19 impacted business model iteratively.

Quickly assess business impacts by looking through these four lenses: customer, product or service, employee & operations

Every organisation has these dimensions and how well you understand what they look like now and what they should look like, will separate you from your competitors. It will also provide a framework to prioritise the one or two areas you want to explore in the business. InfoCentric uses this four-dimension approach to build out a business model view across key measures with templates such as:

Customer changes across a range of attributes – gender, location, age, etc

  • Understanding of customer/channel / product-service portfolio mix
  • % of employees at home – what is there engagement view, productivity view?  Is this permanent – what does this do to future working models?
  • Overhead spend by line item – what has become discretionary, what needs more allocation?
  • Project portfolio assessment

The business model view will typically include external data integration to provide further understanding of change impact and business opportunities. External data such as demographic, environmental and economic data is critical in this COVID-19 world because changes are happening in key external areas faster than we have ever seen.

Employ ‘60/40’ planning & re-prioritise your investments

Planning with a mindset of ‘progress versus perfection’ is key. Right now, with everyone looking to transform, speed is of the essence. Based on what the information is telling you and what you think you are going to change – it really means that you take a lean approach to the change with an understanding of the risks involved. In the context of 60/40 planning and fast iterations you need to place some new business model bets – what are the key pieces of information I need to scenario model how I move forward with my Customer, Product/Service, Employee, and Operations?  Stopping a strategic initiative or developing it further will be based on frequent measurement of change the impact. This is a mindset of having five initiatives, knowing you will probably only progress two to three.

You will also require fast and simple techniques to evaluate whether active projects are contributing to your strategic initiatives. One way to do this is to place all of your projects on a continuum of closest to the Customer and Employee and as far away from the Customer and Employee. And now with the COVID-19 situation you can also map these investments relative to where you are placing your strategic business model bets.  

Having a data driven transformational model appropriate for the COVID-19 environment is essential. How well your business embraces this approach will define how well your business survives and prospers in a COVID-19 impacted world.


Michael Power | 25 August 2020