Preparing for the unexpected: Using data analytics to fight Covid

November 12, 2020 1:00 AM

Data analytics helps businesses and governments respond, recover and reimagine

Organisations across industries are putting their data to work today through advanced analytics such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning.Organisations across industries are putting their data to work today through advanced analytics such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

By Steve Bennett

Almost a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, government, healthcare and private industry are still responding to and recovering from the global pandemic. Businesses continue to struggle with challenging economic conditions and uncertainty. While no one technology is a “silver bullet” to end the pandemic and solve all its consequences, data and analytics are key tools in helping businesses and organisations respond to the virus and its effects.

Organisations across industries are putting their data to work today through advanced analytics such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning. These industries include healthcare organisations using technology to optimise medical resources and enhance responses, banks and governments fighting fraud and waste, and manufacturers and retailers improving supply chains and honing forecasts.

In the early stages of a crisis, when governments are responding, leaders need to know what has happened, what is happening and what is likely to happen. Companies in the private sector and agencies in the public sector frequently employ analytics to develop situational awareness. They assess the situation, collect data, visualise it and use trends and analytics to predict the future.

For example, Cleveland Clinic created a range of models to help forecast patient volume, bed capacity and more. The models provide timely, reliable information for hospitals and health departments to optimise healthcare delivery for Covid-19 and other patients and to predict impacts on the supply chain, finance and other critical areas.

And public health agencies can use specialised analytics to improve contact tracing, better understand who should be tested, see where the virus is spreading, and identify communities at greatest risk.

Data and analytics are also vital to powering the recovery from the pandemic. Many countries, states and local government agencies are targeting their support – often direct stimulus payments – to individuals and businesses. Analytics is critical here as well, putting economic and revenue data to work to help make evidence-based decisions to prioritise programmes that will have maximum impact.

As we begin to emerge from the acute crisis phases of the pandemic, the use of analytics can help government agencies and businesses reimagine approaches to a new and changed landscape.

One government agency we spoke with told us they had a 7-year plan for digital transformation; Covid-19 forced them to execute in four days. Changes like this will be enduring after we emerge from the pandemic.

Transformation, or reimagination, can be difficult. But business and government leaders can use analytics to unlock the vast potential of the data within their organisations, and then make informed and innovative decisions that will improve results.

Analytics, including advanced data visualization, AI and real-time streaming analytics, are critical to this transformation. And to helping government and business leaders prepare for the unexpected, to “future-proof” their organisations from unknown risks and threats, and to build resiliency into their operations.

The writer is director of the global government practice at SAS

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