When an earthquake in Japan triggered a hurricane, the CEO of an industrial manufacturer asked his organization which of their suppliers was impacted by the crisis. He knew that supply chain problems could have a big impact on his ability to deliver to his customers and on his company revenue. Three weeks later, that CEO got an answer from his team.

Poor master data makes it difficult to respond to crises with agility. 

Because of situations like this, organizations are starting to recognize data as a strategic corporate asset and something that is key to enabling their competitive success.

Having strong master data allows organizations to make better and faster decisions—both in regular times and in times of crisis. 

The COVID-19 Stress Test

The COVID-19 pandemic is a massive stress test on data and companies, and we have to respond rapidly to protect our people and our businesses.

Short-term Response: React to the Human Impact

For the next two to three months, we will be responding to the immediate impact of the crisis on our staff. We need to focus first on the human aspects of this whole crisis and how that affects the business operations of our companies. We’re gathering data while doing what we can to care for our teams.

Mid-term Response: Manage Cost in a Recession

We are likely entering a recession. As a result, many companies will be focusing on things like cost in the remaining quarters of the year. We will require accurate data to develop scenarios for managing changing costs and revenues.

Long-term Response: Reprioritize

The long-term response is a best guess scenario starting potentially 12 months from now. In that post-crisis time, we will be able to start re-evaluating our supply chains. We have to re-evaluate cost, risk, our agility, and the priorities we place on all of these. 

The Current State

Organizations are collaborating within the supply chain to help everyone out, and with a focus on the long-term viability of the entire supply chain itself. We’re even seeing collaboration between competitors. It’s more collaboration between supply chains than we’ve seen in a long, long time, if ever.

Organizations are modifying their hurricane response plans into pandemic response plans. Many companies are using this time to do sideline projects to keep people employed.

Organizations are prioritizing cost. As this pandemic continues, organizations are starting to focus on prioritizing cost over process improvements to ensure the viability of their companies.

Organizations are discussing the future of remote work. With everyone working from home, some companies are talking about how much corporate real estate they really need. We expect to see changes in remote work policies and corporate real estate holdings in the coming months and years.

The effects of this massive stress test on our companies will be diverse and far-reaching. Organizations will evaluate what worked and what didn’t work to determine how to bring more agility into what we do on a go-forward basis. Our data foundation is key to this—both the backward data from before the pandemic and the data we gather during the crisis.


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