Figure: 4 - Sources of data that can be leveraged
Amazon (AWS) has created a data lake specifically for COVID, consolidating information from multiple sources and made it ready for computation. Similarly, Tableau has created multiple COVID dashboards, which are accessible to the public. In addition, several organizations are making COVID-specific data available through APIs.
In times like these, when historical data alone does not serve the purpose, it is a good idea to reach out to customers directly to seek their opinion. Surveys are a very potent way to sense customer demand and buying preferences. Customer surveys can be conducted to get a sense of their expectations on assortment and price points, and potential disposable spending. Frontline employees often have an intuitive understanding of the customer’s pulse for a product category in a region. Employee surveys can be conducted to consolidate this knowledge in a centralized way and present it for the entire organization. Employee surveys are also a great way to understand the potential health risks because associated with COVID.
Data from social media feeds is another channel to understand customer sentiments and product preferences. The response to COVID needs to be dynamic with access to real-time information. Retailers, over the years, have built data platforms e.g. Operational Data Stores for low latency and granular data. Such platforms can be augmented with additional COVID and survey data to make data available in real time.
Accelerating Data & Analytics Strategy during COVID
The data & analytics organization is critical to the reopening and revival of the retailer. Therefore, it is paramount that the business objectives be aligned with technology objectives. In addition, technology initiatives must deliver outcomes within resource and time constraints.