Nothing is Ordinary: Preparing for the Post-Pandemic Era

The pandemic has served as a catalyst for technological innovation that will help business leaders triumph over future disruptions.

Battled by the whirlwinds of the pandemic, every company in the world faces the same question: When will life and work return to normal again?

The truth is that we may not return to life as we once knew it. Over the past two years, the pandemic has introduced unprecedented levels of turmoil, and has thrown a wrench into any short- and long-term plans. What started as two weeks of work from home has turned into persistent supply chain bottlenecks, rapid change in consumer behavior, and employment issues that have plagued businesses across all industries. Business leaders are still struggling to break through today’s turmoil while also trying to stay one step ahead of tomorrow’s turmoil.

As detailed in a recent report, “Business Planning and Forecasting: Preparing for Success Amid Increased Economic Volatility“Nearly eight in ten business leaders report that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected at least ‘somewhat’ their planning and forecasting processes. These impacts were split almost evenly across industries in 79% of brands, 77% of brands and 77% of brands. manufacturers, and 73% of retailers.But the chances of the next big business disruption to be global and multi-industry are slim if not at all.

It is now in the hands of today’s CEOs to protect their organizations from disruption to continue to drive growth.

In times like these, historical intelligence and traditional organizational structures are of little use. Without a clear time stamp on when this uncertainty will end, it is more important than ever that business leaders step outside the box and look outside the walls of their organizations to plan for the future. Otherwise, surviving the next wave of turmoil would be practically impossible.

See also: Faster access to data remains a priority after the pandemic

It’s time to get real

Planning and forecasting processes have a huge impact on almost all business functions, incorrect forecasting can tell of incorrect promotional calendar, insufficient store shelves and frequent out of stock.

In traditional planning and forecasting methods, many companies have relied on historical internal data and trends—such as sales, marketing, and customer data—to plan ahead. In fact, nearly half of today’s business leaders rely solely on internal data to fuel short- and long-term business expectations.

While linear extrapolation of the past may have worked previously to develop “safe” forecasts, it is a lengthy process and leaves no room for planning and planning for unexpected turning points. With the realization that external factors can significantly affect a company’s performance, business leaders are now increasingly aware of the importance of incorporating external economic data into their forecasts along with their traditional data.

The pandemic has also helped business leaders understand how quickly historical data can become outdated. Changes in consumer behavior, trends in employment, and changes in manufacturing processes can make data that was accurate yesterday useless for planning tomorrow. In fact, as a result of this volatility, one of the three biggest macroeconomic challenges plaguing business leaders has been the inability to integrate real-time economic changes into planning and forecasting processes.

By incorporating real-time data on a weekly or even daily basis, business leaders can gain a better understanding of the full story and can identify trends and changes differently than before.

hunt and gather (and arrange)

However, the data itself is just noise and can be very messy. With billions of data sets circulating around, executives must first narrow down their specific business needs to incorporate the right external data into their business planning processes. This is especially important in this age of turmoil when the business and economic environment is constantly changing.

After narrowing down the right data, business leaders must also think about how to collect and clean that data to fully realize its benefits.

Unfortunately, most data sources – such as government agencies – share external data in outdated and unstructured log files, and arguing over all of this data can take months to finish. Thanks to new technologies that support machine learning, it is now possible to quickly analyze millions of relevant economic data sets to identify the most predictive indicators that will affect future performance.

Intelligence prediction

With all these constant economic changes, it wouldn’t be a good idea to build scenarios and then let months pass before providing actionable information. That’s why in 2021, the most common change for companies that reimagine their planning and forecasting processes has been to increase planning frequency or make adjustments to forecasts. Across the board, companies are changing the way they invest in themselves, with 68% of companies investing more in technology, with data a close second at 62%. This approach has not only helped the leaders get through the ongoing uncertainty of the economy affected by the pandemic, but it has also helped them well to move through future external events with ease.

While the pandemic has cast a shadow over previous pandemic business plans, it has also served as a catalyst for technological innovation that will help business leaders triumph over future disruptions at any level. As business leaders continue to make new investments in data and technology to better navigate today’s increasing levels of uncertainty, they can begin to embrace and plan for a more optimistic future.