Data in Difficult Times

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Pretty quickly into the emergence of last year’s global pandemic,  global management consulting and executive search firm EgonZehnder sensed some fairly seismic moves were underway in the direction of global business.

They responded by doing what any exceptional management consulting firm would do; they sought out the facts related to these changes.

Digital-First approach

On May 26, 2020, EgonZehnder brought together chief data and analytics officers from across a number of industry sectors to learn more about the pandemic’s impact. What they heard from these officers was that the necessity of remote work conditions was forcing an embrace of a “digital-first approach” that most of these data and analytics officers says they had been pushing for even prior to the pandemic’s emergence.

The finding was yet the latest confirmation that Newton’s Third Law—“every action has a reaction”—sometimes  also proves true in business, proving a decisive force in driving corporate changes that may otherwise have taken many years to materialize, if they ever did at all.

Data democratization

In this case, the most fundamental reaction to the action of the pandemic has been the democratization of data, which remote work conditions required be more broadly available throughout corporate structures.

Actionable intelligence

But with data more broadly available, data and analytics officers also reported they are confronting mounting demand to explain data in more effective ways, interpreting and explaining it so that takeaways include true underlying actionable intelligence.

Story telling

As the chief analytics officer of a consumer products company told EgonZehnder, “A story telling skill set is more important now than ever before.

[You must] be able to take data and translate it in a simple and compelling way that spurs action, to distill it in a way that is inspiring to the business so that [people] want to action it.” With nearly four million dead from Covid-19 as of early July 2021 and trillions of dollars of damage inflicted on the global economy, it is hard to say this pandemic has proven anything but a crisis for most businesses.

Double-Click on analytics

Yet these data and analytics officers do see some positive enduring change in the way the pandemic has forced businesses to democratize data in ways they believe are overdue and will prove rewarding to companies going forward.

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