The importance of data in managing a business through uncertainty

During the past few weeks corona virus has been spreading all over the world. Securing the health of people and stopping the virus are most important tasks at the moment and succeeding in these tasks will require heavy, fact-based and responsible decisions from governments, companies, health care institutions and also individuals. In addition to the threat to our health, corona crisis will cause a dramatic domino effect to our society, economy, businesses, education system, services and employment. The situation can change quite quickly and decisions need to be made fast, as we have seen this week in Finland.

Many companies are now facing a new unknown situation or even a business crisis. There might be issues with availability of raw materials and components, manufacturing capacity, logistics, sales, cash flow and availability of employees, among others. There might be industry wide restrictions happening, as we have seen in the travel industry. Leading businesses through uncertainty may feel like being in a fog and it is hard to find relevant insights or solutions from historical data. Let alone utilize the same predictive models as before in trying to estimate what is going to happen next.
The problem might also be that there is too much data and information, not knowing where to focus. At the times of crisis, the flow of information and news might seem overwhelming. Emotions and intuition start again to steer the decisions and actions instead of using data and common sense. Unbiased and informative data visualizations or transparent predictive models might, however, bring more clarity, comfort and control into the situation.
Don't let your business be led by intuition and fear. Use data to take back the control.



Managing uncertainty with data

Sometimes the most simple things might help in the times of uncertainty, such as making sure that you have a basic access to the most relevant data. You can start by asking these questions:

  1. What are the most critical indicators of your business success? Are there some new indicators to be followed due to the crisis? Do you have enough external indicators? Are they helping you to do predictions on the future or mostly looking back what already happened?
  2. Do you have timely access to the right data sets to follow these indicators? What kind of data would help you feel that you are on top of the situation? Is the data delivered in a format that is quick and easy for you to use? Can you trust that the data is not biased and is leading you to the right direction?  
  3. Are you ready to act based on the indicators? What kind of scenarios there could be? Can you recognize any patters or correlations that might help you to understand the logic of your business better in the crisis situation?


Finally some tips for getting access to critical corona data:

Ways of creating unbiased data visualizations:

Access to global virus data and dashboard: and

Analysis of how data visualizations might lead you to wrong interpretations: