It’s not just the quality of your data insights – it’s how fast you can get them that matters.
Much has been written about the business and economic impact of the COVID-19 virus; we don’t need to restate it all here. Suffice it to say that we can expect to deal with the aftereffects of this pandemic for quite a while after it has finally been conquered.
We’re all feeling the disruptions to supply chains, production facilities, buying patterns, and even our normal working hours and conditions. The question is not “What is happening”, it’s “How can we deal with what’s happening?”.
We know that COVID-19 has brought change. We know it has impacted all industries, some far more than others. We know that a full recovery will take a long time. We know that markets are highly uncertain.
So, what can we do – starting now – to make the situation better? And what can we learn from this outbreak?
Using Data in a Time of Disaster
One advantage we’ve had in this pandemic is that we’ve had a lot of data coming in. We can use this data in various ways; in the business realm, we can use it to inform our decision making and help us chart a pathway back to normal, even if it’s a new normal. The more data we have, the better prepared we can be to move forward.
We can also use this data to identify the early warning signs of another such outbreak and develop action plans to combat it. We can use the customer stories pouring in to get a deeper understanding of people’s needs.
And, for businesses, we can consider this a clarion call to become data driven in an expanded way. In the past, we’ve seen companies that adopted a data-driven approach recover more quickly than those that did not. I believe that this pandemic will help people and organizations alike see the importance of sharing data, developing faster decision processes, and utilizing insights during critical situations.
Identifying Where Speed Matters the Most
We can also use the data coming in from various organizations to see what areas are or will be most benefited by fast, data-based insights. There are quite a few:
- Workforce contingency planning: Ensure employee safety, prioritize remote staffing, and assess the impact of limited mobility.
- Pricing and inventory management: Avoid stockouts, adapt to shifting demand (i.e. to online stores instead of physical stores).
- Supply chain: Determine exposure, minimize probable risks, and identify alternative suppliers.
- Working capital: Financial stress tests, cost containment, and adapting to volatile conditions.
- Customer management: Support changing customer behaviors, strengthen customer relationships.
- Business continuity planning: Ensure infrastructure can support a changing workforce and new customer channels.
As we’ve already established, many organizations have access to the data they need to strategically plan such actions. But it’s the internal insight-gathering process that’s letting them down; it can take weeks to locate the right information and transform it into consumable reports. This is especially true when the data analytics team has to deal with many requests. Since we can’t really expect all of our employees to spend their time learning SQL or some other data querying language, we have to find another way to reduce the analysts’ workload while still getting information into the hands of decision makers. And we need to get that information to them in minutes, not days.
To solve the problem, we have to enter into the realm of Natural Language Processing (NLP), Natural Language Generation (NLG), and business process outsourcing via AI..
Using NLP and NLG to Close the Delivery Time Gap
Within the past few years, we’ve been exploring just how easy and fast we can make insight delivery for business users. This eventually led us to develop ASK NAVIK, an NLP-enabled chatbot that understands users spoken or written questions in their natural language (e.g. “What is our top-selling product in Denmark?”). This chatbot interfaces with an AI search engine, which delivers the raw information to the user. More impressively, the chatbot also uses human-like Natural Language Generation to provide a succinct reply (e.g. “Our top selling product in Denmark is X.”)
In a word, ASK NAVIK is like having an AI virtual assistant quickly finding and delivering insights while leaving the data analytics team free to handle more complicated queries.
Transforming Data Consumption with ASK NAVIK: Three Cases Studies
As we’ve seen, mitigating risk, and coping with volatility are crucial right now, and they will continue to be so. With that in mind, let’s see three real-world case studies that show how ASK NAVIK can help businesses through turbulent times.
Workforce Management: Safely deploying workers
These days, keeping workers safe is paramount. And that may mean avoiding certain locations that are deemed as disease hotspots.
This client, a major telecom manufacturer, needs to have employees onsite during the construction of new mobile phone towers. However, they were concerned about risks to their workers during the pandemic. Using ASK NAVIK, they were able to quickly locate and share virus information with project managers, planners, construction managers, and the internal health and safety team. This enabled them to find areas where safe travel was still possible, helping prioritize workloads.
Cost Containment: Transitioning to E-Commerce
Businesses are scrambling to realign their budgets, cope with reduced cash flows, and focus on their most critical activities.
One of our clients, a leading apparel retailer and manufacturer, is using ASK NAVIK to answer cost and planning questions as they prepare to shift entirely to e-commerce. With the whole business going digital, they need to maximize efficiency and optimize costs while also getting to grips with a storage solution to hold products that cannot currently be held in brick and mortar stores.
Speed and precision are key to meeting these requirements, and ASK NAVIK’s fast, accurate, and specific insight delivery is helping them accomplish their goals.
Business Continuity: Ensuring critical functions and reducing risk
COVID-19 has shown us just how hard it is to carry on business functions during times of rapid change. A major part of business continuity is ensuring that manufacturers and others have the supplies they need.
For this major retailer, keeping the supply chain moving was critical to the success of a soon-to-be launched product. They needed to find any weaknesses that could prevent them from delivering their product. And, sure enough, a potential problem was spotted: the only source for certain necessary materials was in China.
A marketing manager identified this problem, which allowed them to pause their campaign and vet the supplier against any Coronavirus concerns. This quick action enabled them to respond to a situation (getting orders that they might not be able to fill) before it appeared and minimize that risk.
What Have We Learned? And How Can Tech Help?
In review, it’s safe to say that we’ve learned several things from this pandemic. But in the business world, two items stand out:
- Data analysis, when done quickly, can help us find weaknesses and point us to their solutions. It can help us become more resilient and better prepared in the face of an uncertain future.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how promptly organizations need to act. Businesses need to be more than just data driven. They need to respond to quick-change situations as rapidly as possible. And to do that, they need insights delivered in moments, not weeks.
Using ASK NAVIK and its underlying technologies, businesses can get answers quickly, which will help them prepare, adjust, and adapt.