The pandemic has created monumental shifts in daily life, making all of us re-evaluate almost every aspect of our work and home lives.
As individuals and businesses globally shifted wholesale to remote work and isolation, every organization quickly found out how ready (or not) they were to maintain operations, empower employees and deliver consistent service. For businesses primarily based on personal interaction and movement (retail, travel, hospitality), the challenges were multi-dimensional and required a complete re-imagining of their business and service delivery models. The remainder of the business world was also immediately tested. Companies with a strong preparedness plan, hardened endpoint security and an established cloud data strategy pivoted quickly. Those without immediately felt the pains of those gaps.
By now, every business has evolved or pivoted in some way. Given
the nature of our business, we’ve seen firsthand the adjustments many customers
and partners initiated. Many have shared their experiences with us and each
other through virtual webinars and online sessions, and we’re grateful for their
openness and transparency. The major lessons and trends shared in those
sessions over the last six months will continue beyond COVID, and will reshape
how data and analytics are utilized by almost every business.
The Move To SaaS and The Cloud – Accelerated and Permanent
Full-time remote work pushed everyone into the cloud. Today, being able to empower employees successfully means leveraging SaaS and the cloud more readily and effectively. Leading organizations were already making this transition pre-COVID, with others now expediting the move out of necessity. As companies experience the increased cost-savings and flexibility, along with becoming more comfortable with the inherent security and scalability of cloud and SaaS, there will be no reason to go back. This has large ramifications for IT, which I’ll address later in this piece.
How does this affect managing the business moving forward? For
one, remote work should be assumed as a new norm. Even after a vaccine, the
flexibility and balance many employees have enjoyed can’t, and shouldn’t, be taken
away. Smart businesses won’t penalize high-performing employees with demands of
full-time return to offices. We’ve demonstrated clearly that work is an
activity, not a place, and the only true measure of talent is performance. Realizing
the benefits of SaaS and the cloud should give leaders confidence that they can
provide employees the tools they need to be successful wherever they work. And
it opens up the possibility to recruit the best talent wherever it resides.
Data Pipeline Health Grows in Importance – and IT Leads
Our recent study with IDC shows companies with higher data-to-insights capabilities see a significant bottom line impact. These leaders are effectively deploying modern data and analytics pipelines that turn raw data into enterprise-ready intelligence that drives decisions. However, most data pipelines have gaps that leak data and limit the effectiveness of data analysis for impact. Most organizations also struggle with assessing the value of their data and identifying the most valuable data sources, often due to a lack of a smart data catalog. This is where IT needs to take a strong leadership role.
With the move to cloud and SaaS, IT centers of excellence can move away from on-premise management and re-imagine their charter. This will be to focus on the creation, development and management of data pipelines to fuel the organization’s overall data strategy in partnership with CDOs. Given the impact of strong data pipelines on bottom line performance – which our study shows can create double digit improvements in revenue, profit and operational efficiency – IT’s evolved role takes on paramount importance.
Increased Customer and Employee Engagement Through Blended Data
With tightened budgets and reduced spending forecasts, keeping customers engaged and satisfied is more crucial than ever. The C-suite needs to ensure teams are blending all their various data sources from different systems, both to address immediate issues and predict customer needs.
This also ties back to data pipeline health. Leaders need to feel confident they have real-time access to the right data that matters to head off customer concerns, identify customer opportunities, and position to expand their relationships versus seeing them walk away. Companies that aren’t blending and using data effectively will see heavy churn and revenue volatility, without the chance to readily fill the gap with net-new logos.
Similarly, IT and HR need to partner to surface and blend the data that can give them the full picture of employee engagement and health. Are there issues or gaps in adoption of SaaS-based tools that were rolled out to remote workers? Are your employees clustered in a hot zone and need to remain sheltered in place instead of opening offices, even on a rotational or part-time basis?
Blending these data points, which again will come from different systems, will help HR proactively engage employees to ensure remote work is as satisfying and productive as possible. When a vaccine emerges, there will be pent up demand for skilled workers to help fuel growth. Smart businesses have a chance to leverage data and analytics to create a culture – even a remote one – that’s engaging and fosters loyalty. An engaged staff will play a large role in keeping the business stable and ready for a quick recovery, versus a struggle now and an exodus later that limits growth.
The pandemic has certainly shone a light on how important data and analytics are to a company’s ability to evolve practices and pivot in trying circumstances. As our work and personal lives continue to transform, strong data and analytics strategies that create insights in real-time, supported by SaaS and cloud, will continue to power smart decisions that will separate winning organizations from the pack.