Unlocking Resiliency in Strained Economic Times with Data and Analytics

Published on 6th March 2024

In today’s uncertain market, companies are not as resilient as they need to be. In January, South Africa’s Business Confidence dropped by more than 16%, and subsequent to a slip in business confidence in the fourth quarter of 2023. While Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s 2024 National Budget address in February offered some reprieve to piqued market confidence, the country still faces numerous prevailing challenges that cannot be resolved quickly and amidst compounding micro and macroeconomic pressure in the lead up to the national elections in May and in a precarious global geopolitical environment.  To successfully navigate these uncertain times, business leaders must leverage data and analytics to inject resilience into their organisations to mitigate the risks within this complex environment. 

Contrary to popular belief, resilience is a skill that is essential even beyond times of crisis. It is an asset that will serve any organisation through uncertainty. Take the toilet paper shortage during the early stages of the pandemic as an example. Global manufacturer Georgia-Pacific used analytics to optimise logistics and boost productivity. Not only did they strengthen their supply chain, but they also improved efficiency by 10% and saved money in the process. Their commitment to data and analytics continued even after the pandemic to use these strategies to stay efficient and competitive. 

Test for resilience 

How does a business measure its resilience to understand whether it can weather the storm and move beyond to grow? Our freely available online Resiliency Assessment Tool enables business leaders to appraise their own company's resiliency quotient based on the five core resiliency rules: Curiosity, Innovation, Speed and Agility, Data Culture and Literacy, and Equity and Responsibility. 

Our research of organisations that have used the tool has found that most leaders believe there is room for improvement or growth in each of these areas. However, indications are that the tide is turning with high-resiliency executives using data and artificial intelligence (AI) to improve speed and agility. 

Building blocks 

Fortunately, it does not matter where a business is along its resiliency planning and data analytics journey. Decision-makers can take action now to enact core resiliency rules and build a stronger organisation.

 

First, by focusing on strategic partnerships, companies can use their external partners to plug talent and resourcing gaps while solving problems faster along the way. This is where a good analytics partner will step up in times of crisis and also work alongside the business to address everyday challenges. 

From there, companies should use data analytics to look forward. The availability of data analytics means that black swan events become increasingly possible to predict because the organisation can stress-test multiple scenarios more efficiently using machine learning and AI. 

And while democratising data analytics is important to increase resilience, business leaders should never forget about the human element. Data and analytics underpin the Resiliency Rules because they support better decision-making not just during a crisis but at any time. A no/low-code AI and analytics platform puts data in the hands of those who use it every day, so they can tackle problems and innovate. 

It is critical that companies also invest in training. Many free or affordable online courses can efficiently plug skills gaps, from data literacy to programming and data science. Giving employees time to undertake training is an investment in the future. Equally, businesses should make ethics and diversity part of their resilience strategy. Implementing diversity is another value that will strengthen decision-making capabilities. 

Making more insightful decisions 

Determining how to better prepare for the next crisis is another critical component along the resilience transition. Some of the most important answers in this regard will be found in organisational data because data is what all digital processes produce. With solutions in place to clean, govern, and safeguard business data for analytical processes, every strategic or tactical decision made at the company can be made with the kind of confidence that builds resilience. 

It is unlikely that the local economy will rebound any time soon, nor the global economy for that matter. Making business resiliency that much more vital to riding out market fluxes and still prospering the months and years to come. Companies that have built a foundation in data analytics will be better placed to practice intelligent decisioning in discernment versus taking risks and thereby become stronger and more resilient.

By Essie Mokgonyana,

SAS Country Manager & Sales Director for South Africa.


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