Examining the short- and long-term implications of COVID-19 on data analytics and analysts.

Technology, AI, Analytics, Data

In some ways, the world is now more conscious of data analytics than ever before. Why? Think of the last time you watched the news or read an article dealing with the Coronavirus crisis. Chances are there was a graphic showing the trend of the virus in your area, a projection of the economic impact, or some other data visualization. Online, people are seeing actual data analytics dashboards showing COVID-19 information. In that sense, data analysis is top-of-mind for most people.

And, if we stop and think about it, isn’t data analysis behind the predictions of when the economy will rebound, how many people will get COVID-19 in various scenarios, etc.? Even when we talk about “flattening the curve”, we’re talking about a curve that’s been predicted by data analysis. For the first time, analytics is central to how the general public is reacting to a crisis.

Without realizing it, the world has turned to data analytics for information on how Coronavirus will impact public health, global and local economies, and other areas. But as data analysis professionals, we should also ask ourselves what impact COVID will have on our field.

 

Understanding the “New Normal”

In the current scenario – as in any business scenario – there are two options. We can passively wait it out or we can proactively leverage data & analytics to better respond to the fast-changing business environment. Here are 5 ways Analytics can make a difference in how your organization responds to COVID-19.

Many businesses will survive; some – such as online shopping giants like Alibaba and carry-out food-service chains – will thrive. [Source: ImpactBND] And BCG reports that companies that have already adopted AI will likely do better than their non-AI-powered competition.

Looking at the consumer side of things, many sources are confidently predicting a new normal of changed spending, social, and shopping habits (such as working from home, attending virtual gatherings in lieu of in-person events, prioritizing health-related purchases, and even changing personal hygiene practices).

For companies, the probable new normal includes more openness to remote work, strengthening the supply chain, and building a better tech and data infrastructure for their organization. And many employees are taking advantage of reduced working hours to polish their professional skills, often via online classes and platforms.

In short, expect to see the trends in online shopping, e-learning, virtual meetings, and real-time data continue post-COVID. What does this mean for data analytics and analysts?

 

What Data Analytics Professionals Need to Do to Thrive Post-COVID

To answer the above question, let’s start by reviewing the changes we can expect after the Coronavirus crisis has passed:

  • New work environments, especially remote/virtual ones
  • An increase in virtual meetings and a resultant decrease in in-person contacts (e.g. sales calls)
  • Greater reliance on technology and data, which leads to
  • Accelerated tech adoption, which in turn generates
  • A new emphasis on learning skills

This will produce a greater demand for blended skill sets, such as salespeople who are also technically proficient. And on a related note, the entry of digital natives (people who grew up using technology) into the workplace is also spurring tech demands.

Another thing we’ll see is a change in how teams are formed. Look for more ad-hoc teams, developed to complete a given project and then disbanded.
So, what does all of this mean for the practitioners of data analytics? It means that we too can expect some change. Look at the above situations and ask yourself:

  • Do I have the skills I need to work remotely? Manage virtual meetings? Take on a more blended role?
  • What am I good at?
  • What competencies should I focus on building now?

Use this time to inventory your strengths and weaknesses. Find out what you might need to add to your tool kit – and it might not be directly related to analytics – to thrive in the “new normal” of the post-COVID world. Your skills will be needed.

To know more about how the new world will look like after the COVID situation subsides and what it will bring for data analysts and analytics professionals, listen to our webcast here.

Authored by: Anil Kaul, Co-founder and CEO of  of Absolutdata

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