Twelve learnings from twelve months of the COVID-19 pandemicBusiness leaders will need accurate sources of data, and the tools to turn that data into insights that can guide decision-making in real time

The speed with which the business world has changed — especially over the past year as the Covid-19 pandemic swept across the globe — has been nothing short of astonishing. From enabling remote work on a previously unprecedented scale to adapting to disruptions in the global supply chain and ensuring business continuity in the midst of a once-in-a-generation crisis, business leaders have had their hands full.

McKinsey argues that speed has been a fundamental aspect of the pandemic and will likely be a central feature of how businesses adapt to an uncertain future. By unlocking greater speed, organisations could accelerate decision-making, execute on new business opportunities more quickly, and improve their chances at overcoming the immense challenges created by the pandemic.

While speed is undeniably a vital capability in organisations’ arsenal, the prevailing disruption and continued volatility calls for more. To remain successful in our current business environment, business leaders need certainty.

It is fair to say the  complexity of the modern business environment makes it impossible to consistently make good business decisions based purely on intuition. Business leaders have to make quick, accurate decisions over aspects such as supply chain, human capital management, customer experience, new product innovation, and financial performance on a near-constant basis.

To make good decisions, business leaders need accurate sources of data, and the tools to turn that data into insights that can guide decision-making in real time.

For example, responding well to changing customer demands is nearly impossible without knowing what those demands are. Having access to customer experience management tools that can track customer expectations in real time and guide how the business responds to those expectations removes much of the trial and error of manual decision-making.

Integrating the customer experience management tool with an automation layer further increases both the speed and accuracy of that response.

The impact of the pandemic means most organisations are operating on a fragmented basis. Teams are working from home, making in-person methods of employee engagement and performance management almost totally obsolete, at least for the moment.

Without new employee engagement tools that can effectively mobilise and support teams around common business objectives, organisations could see falling productivity and negative effects in aspects such as product development or customer experience.

Data-driven insights

New management tools can provide measurable insights into the employee experience, which can assist managers and leaders with making better decisions over the types of support they need to provide to their teams.

Advances in data and analytics also bring data-driven insights into the boardroom, with technology solutions that connect the top floor with the shop floor to give C-level executives granular insight into the total performance of the business.

To harness data and technology for greater certainty in decision-making, organisations need to put certain building blocks in place. To achieve a single, accurate view over the organisation and empower decision-makers with actionable insights, organisations need to build intelligent enterprise capabilities.

In simple terms, this means using the latest technologies to turn insight into action across every aspect of the business, in real time. Integrated business applications — such as enterprise resource planning and human capital management solutions — powered by next-generation technologies, such as artificial intelligence, help transform end-to-end business processes.

Experience management solutions give insight to the sentiment of customers, partners and employees, while business process intelligence and automation enable organisations to immediately act on insights and opportunities.

At the foundation of the intelligent enterprise is the cloud, which gives organisations the ability to simplify and scale their systems landscape without sacrificing performance. Cloud empowers businesses with the certainty of a quicker time-to-value, without the upfront capital outlays required of on-premise deployments.

With cloud-enabled intelligent enterprise capabilities, organisations can achieve the speed needed to stay ahead of competitors and other disrupters while maintaining the certainty of measured, data-driven decision-making.