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Insights in a time of crisis and rapid change

Insights in a time of crisis and rapid change

Chelsea Wise

Being a company obsessed with making decisions based on data and facts, the reality is unkind at the moment. We’re writing this on 26th March 2020, where most of the world is in some form of lock-down due to COVID-19 and the impact on businesses is unprecedented; some industries declining by 100% in revenues in the last week or month, and the uncertainty likely to trigger a possible recession. 

Whilst we continue to grieve for many of our friends whose businesses have been impacted overnight, we want to help by sticking to what we’re good at - helping people use data to make decisions and to make sound decisions, rapidly. 

But is that even possible? Sound, smart decisions, quickly? How do you make any decisions quickly, especially when: 

  • Uncertainty is real. Nobody knows what’s going to happen.
  • Everyone says that they are rational, but toilet paper panic buying is a real thing!***
  • Even without the current uncertainty or a looming recession, the typical way of making decisions within organisations is slow. Incredibly slow.
In a 2019 McKinsey study, they found for managers at an average Fortune 500 company, slow and ineffective decision making translates into more than 530,000 days of lost working time and roughly $250 million of wasted labor costs per year. Time and productivity that nobody has to waste. Particularly now. 

So in the context of urgent decisions, you need to make decisions based on facts? Sure. But reports will need days or weeks to be built, data will need to be sourced, powerpoint slides designed, meetings scheduled, and then rescheduled, a second round of analysis is needed, more meetings, more time wasted… then a decision is made. Or not. 

When business is thriving, the cost of not making a decision could be ok. Frustrating for some, sure. Time wasted, perhaps. But sticking to the status quo is a human bias. It is the norm to do nothing. 

However, at the present time, there are broadly three types of organisations:

  1. Those that are bleeding - customer demand or revenue has contracted by almost 100%. Radical decisions like closing the entire business must be made today.
  2. Those that are suffering - but the impact and damage is a huge unknown. These organisations currently are focusing on implementing business continuity plans and setting up their teams for home office/remote working.
  3. Those that are thriving - like Zoom or Amazon where demand is up 100+ fold.

The Majority of Organisations are Suffering

Today, we would like to speak about companies in the second category:

  • Those adjusting to remote ways of working.
  • Trying to get on with business as usual, however, mindful that there is no such thing as ‘usual’ right now.
  • Mindful that the company must ‘adapt’ or ‘pivot’ quickly due to changes in demand, revenue and impact on operations or supply chain - all out of their control.
  • The first round of rapid, yet difficult decisions may have been made (e.g. spending & hiring freezes, temporarily standing down teams or projects for fixed time).
  • Aware that both big and small decisions must be made, but wanting to do this in a systematic way and not cutting core muscle.
  • Realistic that beyond the immediate next weeks and months, there must be a focus on navigating the business through a recession, particularly when benchmarking to three global recessions (80s crisis, 90s slowdown and 2000 bust), in the three years after the recession period, 80% of the public companies that managed to survive, hadn't returned to pre-recession sales or profit growth rates.
  • The requirement for high quality information and insights across all areas of the business has never been more critical.
  • But the time or cost to rely on legacy ways to access data and insights is not good enough. Hamstrung by tools and processes that are not set up for delivery of insights at speed and scale.


When You’re Stuck in the Stone Age = Static Metrics, for Some, Yesterday.

Back in 2019, companies may have been a little embarrassed to admit that their core metrics, the ones that keep their engine flying, were ‘stuck in the stone age’. 

Whether it was an Excel file, spreadsheet, static PDF report, or dashboard, not everyone could see business metrics and the people that could, were frustrated knowing that these reports were outdated, prone to human error, and relied on a handful of specialists if you needed to drill down, see the business from a different perspective or go beyond the ‘report’. 

What you had (and still have) are ’static metrics for some, yesterday’.


And now in a time of crisis and rapid change?

Legacy ways of waiting for reports to be built and briefing specialists or business intelligence teams to look, for example, for anomalies across business units such as marketing, finance, sales, customer service and operations, is a veritable death sentence. 

You’ll be waiting weeks, if not months to see the business form the angles you need to see this week.

What does this mean?

If your insights are not able to keep up with the business and do this at scale across your teams and departments, then you will have an information crisis and decisions will be made with blind spots or be made too late. Way too late. 

Compromises have to be made in terms of who gets insights and when. 

This means Business Intelligence and Finance teams will be swamped with rapidly changing requests and priorities for more static reports - they will be overwhelmed and everyone will be frustrated. The cycle of more ‘static metrics, for some’ and deadend dashboards continues. 

Being ‘stuck in the stone age’ is no longer something to be embarrassed about. Now it’s about business survival.

So how do you make business decisions in this context, with data, rapidly?


Insights That Navigate Business Disruption = Dynamic Metrics, for All, Today.

Hyper Anna solves this very problem. 

It is certainly possible to have all key business metrics in front of you (like a dashboard or static report) but with the added capabilities:

  • Flexibility and ability to drill down and see the business from infinite angles (i.e. unlike a dashboard or static report)
  • Ability to instantly spot business blind spots, through anomalies and outliers across all areas of business
  • Smarts & intuition to tell you ‘why’ or what caused this, instead of waiting for consultants or analysts to tell you this weeks later
  • For anyone, and we mean anyone, in your business to understand what the numbers mean, without coding, complex graphs or formulas.
What does this mean?
  • Insights that keep up with the pace of your business / meetings
  • Operational efficiencies and cost savings found without cutting core muscle
  • Adapting quickly and calmly, not reacting
  • Better data driven decisions, today
So how do we do this today?

We help organisations by giving them the ability to analyse their data from every angle, identifying cost savings or growth opportunities. 

In one of our upcoming posts, we’ll share how Hyper Anna delivers value beyond a dashboard and what makes her different from the rest. But for today, we wanted to focus on why the time is now to get serious about insights. What might have been a nice-to-have or a privilege, is now a matter of business survival.

So, that’s our thoughts for today. Good luck in your businesses. Stay tuned for more on how to thrive with insights during these challenging and uncertain economic times. 



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Note

*** We couldn’t help ourselves by mentioning the toilet paper situation, so we’ve kept it separate from the core article to avoid adding more ‘noise’ to the topic… unless you enjoy reading about it that is!

A typical emotional response to uncertainty is fear (example - toilet paper panic buying). Even if you know that uncertainty shouldn’t play a role in one’s bathroom habits, people still continue to buy roll, after roll of toilet paper. To them it’s a rational response to the uncertainty of not knowing what’s happening in the world and wanting to take control. And even if the CEO of Toilet Paper company tells you that the production of toilet paper is ok, people are still scared because they don’t know what’s ahead. And so they continue to buy roll after roll.

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