We are in unprecedented times. There is a lot of uncertainty as the world decides how to cope with the disruption of life as we know it. There is no shortage of problems to solve from keeping our global economy afloat, to innovating new medical remedies, to managing healthcare staff and hospital capacity, to disseminating reliable information, to supporting emergency responders. At the core of all these challenges is human interaction, human perception and human ingenuity.
As we practice social distancing and new restrictions are placed on travel, social venues, workplaces and schools, we are forced to rethink how we interact with each other. Luckily, we live in a time where technology enables us to remain connected even when physically disconnected. We have instant access to new government orders and advisement from health organizations, we can maintain face-to-face contact via video calls, we can leverage neighborhood apps to identify who in our community needs help, and the list goes on. The same can be said for organizations as technology is a key enabler for creating connectivity across the workforce, maintaining business continuity, evolving physical meetings and events to virtual spaces, and offering channels for instant communication.
But, when making decisions for employees, for customers and partners, for local and global economies, the stakes are higher and there is heightened responsibility to address distance bias, manage transparent and timely communications, and maintain morale. In a time of social and financial distress, we can’t afford to be slow, wrong or ill-informed—enter analytics.
Analytics as a StabilizerToday In: AI
Coronavirus (COVID-19) opened the floodgates to a surplus of information (or misinformation), noise and unsupported claims that our society is challenged to decipher as we aim to make the best decisions for our families, communities and global society. This is analogous for the dizzying amount of data organizations are faced with when trying to make the best decisions for growth and performance. In the context of a global pandemic, the rules of the game change and businesses are suddenly asked to produce the same output with broken operations, limited resources and less clarity on what our world will look like in the next week, let alone the next month, quarter or year. In turbulent times, good information, good data and the capacity to derive good decisions with analytics are more critical than ever.
Analytics can serve as a stabilizer. Whether you’re a data worker in healthcare tasked with optimizing hospital capacity, in transportation tasked with reevaluating flight schedules or in manufacturing tasked with determining supplier capacity, analytics can serve as both a trusted advisor and your most powerful defense when making a decision that has significant consequences. Data analytics, like many scientific practices, is often associated with fact, logic and precision, rather than emotion; and yet, it informs human decisions that impact personal outcomes—which patient gets admitted, whose flight home gets cancelled or who gets laid off when their company can’t meet production schedules.
React with Resilience
In any crisis, we often look to address the now without much thought about what comes next. Crisis or not, businesses always need to think about putting the right people, processes and technologies in place to future-proof their organizations. People are essential in assigning situational context and logic to data when navigating uncharted territory; process is critical to optimizing workforce efficiency; nimble technology is required to respond rapidly to the unknown and to mitigate potential risks.
At the first sign of recovery, organizations will shift focus and face a new set of challenges they should’ve prepared for—perhaps most critically, supply chain. Disruption to supply chain has worldwide implications and one factory closure can create a long-term domino effect, impacting a company’s ability to deliver. In parallel to reacting to short-term business implications, leaders need to implement a robust analytic strategy and leverage predictive insights to identify and prepare for future vulnerabilities.
Be Part of the Solution
Machines are the enabler, but humans solve problems.
The power of analytics extends far beyond one organization’s ability to weather the storm but can serve as a critical driver in reaching a global solution. As Buckminster Fuller once stated, “Humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons.” We are all responsible for protecting our global economy and our societal functions. In a time where connection is limited, sharing is more important than ever. Share resources, share knowledge, share solutions. If anyone is prepared to tackle the world’s most complex business and societal challenges—in this case, a global pandemic—it is the analytic community.
Dean Stoecker is the founder, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Alteryx. Dean’s leadership and motivational skills, along with his ability to create, communicate, and realize a vision, are a driving force behind the company’s 20 year success. Dean serves as an advisor to entrepreneurs and is an active philanthropist, creating the Alteryx for Good program to bring the thrill of solving real-world problems to nonprofits, educators, and local communities. Dean is passionate about humanizing the world of data science and analytics, evident in the company’s efforts to influence social change.