Data intelligence can help tackle diverse business challenges in the new normal

The pandemic has turned the business world on its head, forcing companies to change to survive. Data and analytics are playing an important role in meeting diverse challenges head on, bringing employees back to work safely, and improving the customer experience, supply chain issues, cost optimization and more.

Becoming a data-driven organization supports business resilience and gives you the ability to reinvent business models. It is about having the wisdom to leverage data for decision making:

  • Knowing when to use data and when not to
  • Knowing what data you have and how to fill the gaps where you are missing data
  • Defining the quality of the data you have and the timeliness of it
  • Understanding how to integrate new data sets and interpreting it across the organization

Creating a digital culture that can adapt in times of uncertainty

The pandemic has accelerated digitization. There has been a massive upsurge in digital users, many who may not have used digital channels before. You need to know exactly how your data works to accommodate these users and make sure they have a good user experience.

Going forward, there are new questions that will need to be asked and analyzed. You may need to run simulations that require data to which you may not currently have access. There will also be data privacy and security implications around flexible working and moving employees back to the office safely, for example.

Making your data work for you

The key to continuing past the pandemic into the new normal is making your data work for you. In digital commerce, for example, we would look at data to achieve four main outcomes:

  • Optimize business efficiency
  • Accelerate and understand your customers’ digital usage
  • Innovate and identify new services
  • Manage regulatory and reputational risk

As part of optimizing business efficiency, it is essential to scale up customer support to deal with an influx of digital users, many unfamiliar with digital channels. You need the digital maturity and data intelligence to understand these changes in behaviors and any alternations that need to be made to your business models as a result. Network tools, app performance and AIOps are all important to ensure that digital channels are running efficiently and any problems or outages can be reacted to quickly.

AI and data-driven interfaces can help you to innovate. They can be designed to read customer moods and sentiments to drive them to certain product lines. Data intelligence can also be leveraged in brick-and-mortar scenarios. Wireless LAN, edge computing and cameras in store can check to see if people are wearing masks, for example.

Returning to the workplace in the next normal

New ways of working are demanding a cultural and process rethink. Data intelligence is integral in measuring the performance of employees working from home, how engaged they are with tools and what impact isolation is having on their mental well-being.

Managing health and safety as people return to the office is a major challenge for organizations. Again, data intelligence can help here, using wireless LANs, analytics and cameras to check compliance with social distancing measures.

Risks facing data intelligence

Regulations have been adapted quickly to cope with the pandemic, for example, The First Family Act and extending the Family and Medical Leave Act in the U.S. to deal with time off due to the virus and protecting jobs.

The U.S. Equal Opportunities Employment Commission’s (EEOC) Americans with Disabilities Act, which was enacted in 1990, is well understood by organizations. Per EEOC, COVID-19 meets the standards of the “direct threat” clause, which is unprecedented in previous pandemics.

This means that having someone showing symptoms of coronavirus or knowing of an exposure relates to a significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the individual or others in the workplace. Employers can ask questions about exposure risk or check employees’ temperatures, because that is directly related to assessing COVID-19 risk, but they can’t ask them if they have underlying medical issues or force them to have a vaccine.

Organizations must be very careful in storing this data. It must be stored in a separate medical record and not as part of an employee’s file or general human resources documents – and access must be carefully controlled.

Data governance has never been more important

People don’t trust what they don’t understand. Organizations need good, reliable data that is both trustworthy and accurate. If organizations don’t put these foundations in place, people will create their own data sets and indicators. Unless there is data governance in place, they can come up with their own definitions. This can result in people making different, and possibly faulty, business decisions based on the same data sets.

With the actions being taken related to the COVID-19 pandemic, data governance has become even more critical. People today are accessing data in ways they haven’t accessed it before and are being asked to look after data that wouldn’t normally fit under their remit. Office managers, for example, are being asked to look after data on employees’ temperatures and COVID-19 questionnaires. This personal information must be protected appropriately. With data being distributed in so many different ways, it also has to be suitably secured.

Data must only be used for the purpose it was intended. If people are providing health information because of COVID-19, it must not be used in the future against future career moves. If data is being used in large data sets to look at trends on how many people are coming into the office, for example, it must be anonymized.

There is a fine balance between having too little and too much data governance. People must be able to manipulate data to do their jobs. Data must be flexible to use in different ways, but the right people, processes and governance must be in place to create the ultimate goal – an adaptable business.

Accessing data in so many ways

Organizations need to make sure they can structure their data to support regulatory requirements while also being able to support rapidly changing business needs. Data models and governance must be agile enough to bring in new data sources and quickly export other data sources.

Organizations that can adapt to change will be the ones that ultimately thrive. They will be the ones that can answer questions that haven’t even been thought of before and react quickly.

For more information, listen to our webinar, Data Intelligence in the New Normal, which covers this topic in full.


Matt Stratton

Matt Stratton
Head of Digital and Data, Americas, Orange Business
Using a well-rounded background in business, software and data management, Matt leads the Orange Business Digital and Data Solutions group to create product and service offerings, helping clients through digital transformation to become data-driven organizations. In his spare time, you can find Matt spending time with family, playing guitar and training dogs.


Ashley Peacock

Ashley Peacock
Director, Life Sciences and Healthcare, Orange Business
Ashley got her professional start in reporting and regulated industries, which provided her the background to develop governance programs for today’s digital needs. With her experience, she looks for opportunities to optimize the use and collection of information, so companies can implement stronger, data-driven decision making.

Orange Business

A division of the Orange Group dedicated to B2B, Orange Business is a network-native digital services company connecting, protecting and innovating for sustainable business growth. We meet our customers’ challenges at every stage of the data journey to take advantage of new business ecosystems.