When COVID-19 struck, Panera Bread – like many retail businesses – faced a dilemma. The chain’s bakery cafés had no customers. Yet, they had customer data. The question was, what could they do next?
Across the Atlantic Ocean, City Harvest London faced a similar challenge. The non-profit distributes uneaten food to the needy but faced restrictions during the pandemic. It was forced into a life-and-death scenario; if it could not find ways to send food to the needy, they would starve.
So, Panera Bread’s Chief Executive Officer Niren Chaudhary and City Harvest London’s Chief Executive Officer Laura Winningham found their answer in data analytics.
A central theme for these pivots and organizational adaptation is data analytics. Dan Streetman, chief executive officer at TIBCO Software – whose products enable these business shifts – calls it hyperconverged analytics.
Beyond the dashboard
Streetman argues that the days of monitoring KPIs on the dashboard are nearing the end. CEOs cannot afford to take a passive look at analytics. They need data-driven insights – quickly. COVID-19 truncated the timelines and made it vital for these insights to be available now.
“Giving organizations the power to access any data, within their walls and outside, is critically important… Hyperconverged analytics takes those dashboards and makes data available to larger stakeholders. That is powerful,” said Streetman to CDOTrends.
Hyperconverged analytics, for the most part, is a journey for companies. The pandemic has shown that companies are not lacking in data; they just have poor access. So, C-level decision-makers had no idea what the operational level managers knew and lost immediate clarity.
Access is the first step for hyperconverged analytics. “If you’re not making sure to unify your view of data intelligently, then you’re starting from behind,” said Streetman.
Next, Streetman argues that access no longer should be for the privileged. It is because frontline staff may have valuable insights that can help with decision-making. Besides, they also need the most accurate data to make operational decisions in real time. A corporate data hub can help to “democratize” the data “and pass it from the hands of a few analysts to everybody in the company,” said Streetman.
Once this is set up, the company can run live queries, and identify trends and outliers. It is one reason why TIBCO is delivering TIBCO Spotfire 11 as a platform.
“We talk a lot about bringing power to the people. But it should not only be experts who handle all kinds of data, including streaming data,” said Streetman.
Changing the conversation
The resulting data-based conversation between business owners creates new levels of efficiency. It also addresses old challenges, such as creating strong public-private partnerships (PPPs).
This has been a contentious issue before the pandemic as people are two-minded about how much private organizations and governments should work together to drive societal impact. COVID-19 forced the subject into the open, forcing both to engage the other. Hyperconverged analytics offers a platform to move the conversation.
Streetman pointed to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) as a great example of analytics driving PPP. “When the best minds in business and public services are brought together, complex problems can be solved,” he added.
Unifying your data and then quickly predicting the right actions in real-time is what hyperconverged analytics is all about. The pandemic crisis has shown the importance of decision-makers and operational teams accessing the correct data quickly.
“You want to leverage that and have streaming data in the right places,” said Streetman. He noted it is one of the reasons why Spotfire 11 is now delivered as a platform. “It gives [decision-makers] the power to deliver hyperconverged analytics that works all the way up and down the corporate ladder, ideally flattening the organization.”
Streetman admitted that it is still early days. “This is really just the very beginning. The first task always is to connect everything and then unify that view. That’s what gives your team members the power to predict the next best action.”
Empowering business agility
For Panera Bread’s Chaudhary, the next best action was a pivot. The company used data analytics to shift its business model from the bakery chain into a grocery delivery company. Over a few days, it was delivering fresh foods to its former bakery customers.
“Panera Bread had all the data about their supplies and inventory but customers that couldn’t come into the store. So, they quickly – really, over the course of a weekend – launched a grocery operation,” said Streetman.
City Harvest London’s Winningham streamlined their delivery approach to get food to those who need it during the pandemic.
“Essentially, they’re using data to connect with food providers to help attack hunger in London,” said Streetman.
Both success stories highlight how hyperconverged analytics is shaping and saving lives.
Image credit: iStockphoto/ConceptCafe