Over the past few weeks, the coronavirus outbreak has made us realise how interconnected the whole world is. With an increasing number of cases of the deadly illness raising fears of a global pandemic among people, the impact of the shutdown across the world has started to hit the tech industry of the country.
At the time of writing, there have been more than 400,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with more than 21,000 deaths; along with more than 140 countries and territories have reported coronavirus cases, and the international stock market has witnessed the biggest dip since 2008.
While we are talking about the reeling impact of the virus on human life, the massive disruption in the analytics industry is also worth mentioning. According to Pravin Rao, Nasscom vice-chairman, also the COO of Infosys, the IT sector is going to see some indirect impact with the sudden outbreak of this global pandemic — COVID-19. In fact, economists have estimated that this virus outbreak could potentially reduce the global GDP by almost 0.3%.
This coronavirus outbreak is acting as a reality check of the fragility in the systems of doing business and the uncertainty associated with it. It has already caused significant disruption throughout the tech industry, with huge tech conferences and trade shows cancelled and companies expecting to miss their revenue forecasts. Additionally, the virus is shaking up business and consumer behaviour on a massive scale.
“The Coronavirus outbreak could potentially reduce the global GDP by almost 0.3%.”
When asked CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technical support services company, Vivian Gomes, the SVP & head of marketing said, “The impact of the outbreak is across the economy, so the analytics industry is no exception.”
The change can be attributed to workplace modifications, change in consumer behaviour, travel restrictions, overstocking up of essential commodities, which are acting as prime disruptors. “In the present technology ecosystem, analytics is deeply embedded in solutions, processes, workflows, reporting and dash-boarding. Understandably, given the diversity and multiplicity, along with the chain reactions being brought in by the virus, it is a mammoth task to estimate and assess the exact impact, as the global environment is evolving rapidly on a daily basis,” said Gomes.
Despite this coronavirus crisis, businesses still need to continue crunching numbers, analysing trends, gaining insights, and making decisions. In fact, in a time of this increasing uncertainty, businesses need to make better decisions with greater urgency, which demands — more than ever – accuracy, well-understood data, speedy delivery and in considerable volumes.
Apart from the change in customer behaviour amid this coronavirus outbreak, there has been a massive disruption in data delivery and analysis pipelines due to the ongoing social distancing. But, businesses must leverage and harness analytics in predicting the ramifications of this virus as much as possible. And, therefore, businesses need a revamped distributed data architecture to address these challenges.
Gomes added, “At this point of time, analytics is playing a crucial role in mining and using data to transform the scope of knowledge and access to empower and safeguard people. Through the correlation of historical data and current data aided with geospatial analytics and advanced analytics, businesses should come up with solutions to better resolve the crisis and prevent further proliferation.”
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Besides, this change in consumer behaviour patterns will lead to a massive peak in the panic-driven consumption data. “And, therefore, companies who rely upon this data need to bear in mind that this is a good opportunity to figure out their bull’s eye target and use this to derive comeback strategies, post the COVID-19 pandemic when there is an astronomical growth in the discretionary spends,” said Sahil Vaidya, the Co-Founder of The Minimalist.
The impact of the current situation is going to be felt across industries around the world. And therefore, companies should be focused on enacting their business continuity plans, find ways to serve their customers properly, and should also ensure that their employees are protected during this time of crisis.
“Although some businesses working with analytics could witness some unusual data trends, as consumer usage and buying patterns have fundamentally changed, for some businesses like food and grocery delivery, gaming, EdTech, and streaming apps, it might be a great opportunity to leverage analytics to identify new power users, and follow up with retention strategies once this storm passes,” said Anand Jain, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, CleverTap.
Talking about data analytics professionals, Rohit Maheshwari, the head of strategy & products at Subex said, “Data analytics professionals in India and over the world are harvesting people movement data, information from hospitals in India to predict coronavirus disease spread and its risks. This information has been instrumental in helping the government of India take a series of actions aimed towards containing the fallout. Not only at a country level, analytics professionals are also helping local authorities access location intelligence from mobile phones of individuals who have been advised to self-isolate with the aim of enforcing isolation and protecting others in the community.”
Impact On Supply Chain & Role Of Analytics
The outbreak of the coronavirus has acted as a bit of a black swan that has disrupted supply chains globally, impacting both demand in China and supplies to the rest of the world. As per reports, the economic shock of the coronavirus on the Indian supply chain wasn’t predicted to be such a disaster, but if the virus is contained in China over the next three to four months, the impact on the Indian supply chain could be higher than the 2003 SARS outbreak. It is therefore imperative that companies be prepared for the consequences and impacts it may have on the economy.
According to Ram Iyer, Founder & CEO, Vayana Network, one of the largest third-party supply chain finance platforms, the cross border trade is likely to get a hit as exports to prominent countries like Europe, US & China will see a decline due to the corona outburst.
“For instance, the textile industry, which accounts for 10% of the annual export, will see a major decline in revenue for corporates and its supply chain on account of reduced export orders. This will create serious working capital shortages for corporates and its supply chains. There would be a further dip in the GST collections as most of the industries such as poultry and seafood, consumer durables and electronics, tourism & hospitality, apparel, etc. will see a major decline in revenue due to the corona outburst,” said Iyer.
He further added, “The strategy should be to create adequate trade finance support to deal with massive increment in demand, this would involve creating business continuity plans that involve more automation with suppliers and customers.”
Although the virus outbreak has impacted the supply chains that have led to a massive hit on the economy — there has been a loss of three trillion dollars worldwide — it has also resulted in a demand for new-age technologies, especially in data visualisation as real-time visualisation of data has become the need of the hour.
Kuldeep Chaudhary, Co-Founder & CEO of ADOHM said, “Businesses should try to find measures using analytics as a tool so that their operations aren’t impacted while at the same time sourcing new leads to grow their businesses. With improved marketing efforts and increased sales using the right quality lead; the intervention of analytics can help in boosting business.”
Additionally, “We, at ADHOM, are extensively working on providing our customers with solutions, especially during this critical time. We are providing them with detailed research on the basis of analysing and processing data of their targeted customers by evaluating their behaviour patterns and suggesting them the right platform to carry their lead communications. Hence, ensuring proper utilisation of funds and resources with regards to ‘Return on Ad Spent’. We have also collaborated with various brands to come up with analytical solutions to help people get information about coronavirus,” added Chaudhary.
Analytics can enable companies and governmental institutions to consume information, access alternative solutions and remain functional irrespective of the pandemic. Big data analytics can bring new hope for businesses.
Milan Sheth, the executive VP of IMEA Region at Automation Anywhere said, “Leveraging Intelligent Automation technologies can help the hospital management make processes more seamless by understanding the disease, tracking and preventing it from spreading, sharing the right information, and developing the proper medication. Bots have also been developed for Airline databases, which can fetch data from multiple sources and provide up to date information on travel advisories and quarantine zones.”
The analytics industry has always been very diverse and dynamic. Just like the impact of coronavirus depends on the market, industry and business function; similarly, the impact on analytics companies depends on whose needs these analytics companies are serving. Apart from the supply chain and manufacturing industry, COVID-19 has the most significant negative impact on industries that rely on the movement of people like travel, tourism, live events, and hotels, and consumer-facing industries whose products and services are seen as non-essential.
Along with that, financial services industries are also impacted, which have lent to cash strapped industries or provided unsecured loans to individuals who may default. However, several sectors, like e-commerce, video conferencing, online education, and online gaming companies, are hugely benefited with social distancing. Therefore, whether analytics companies do well will depend on how reliant they are on industries that will experience a slowdown. Further analytics companies who can work without physical contact for selling, data collection and analysis will do well while those that rely on an onsite model will suffer.”
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Sejuti currently works as Senior Technology Journalist at Analytics India Magazine (AIM). Reach out at email@example.com