Sean Xu, Vice President-Information Management, MGM Resorts International
Community lockdown. Travel restrictions. Social distancing. While these ideas have been popularized amid the devastating COVID-19 global pandemic, it is important to remember that these ideas, not even one year ago, have been largely foreign to much of our society. In addition to the tragic toll and the ongoing public health crisis, the pandemic has also caused unimaginable economic havoc on governments, communities, and businesses. Facing massive uncertainty and risk of permanent closure, organizations have been forced to adapt faster than ever before.
As our communities reopen and organizations slowly recover, business leaders are tasked with managing the trade-off of protecting their businesses while curtailing the health risk of their customers, employees, and communities. However, despite all the uncertainty in making these critical decisions, there are some strategies leaders can use to help effectively optimize this trade-off and guide organizations navigating through unknown and unchartered territories.
To that end, one of the silver linings of this pandemic is the emphasis on data analytics to address crisis response and recovery efforts. Let’s look at them in more details to see how they are fit into the big picture:
Employee and Location
As COVID-19 has swiftly turned business operations upside down, working remotely from home has become the new norm across corporate America. The pandemic has created an urgent need for HR departments to develop a much more thorough employee risk profile, which can be used to form large enterprise decisions such as optimizing return-to-work options, assessing ongoing employee risk, and forming larger enterprise decisions. Starting with basic employee location and demographic data, integrating geospatial data such as areas of COVID “hotspots” as well as logistical data are essential in assessing the risks associated with decisions around any organization’s employees.
Moreover, with a currently remote workforce, businesses, at some point, will need to weigh the impact of potentially changing office location, capacity, and configuration. By taking into account each office location, changes to urban transport, and other public safety measures, organizations can enhance the return-to-work strategies and its ongoing risk monitoring to ensure the right people are returning to the right office locations at the right time with minimized risk exposures to organizations. Furthermore, consolidating office space and optimizing capacity can have a positive OPEX economic impact on an organization.
Business leaders are tasked with managing the trade-off of protecting their businesses while curtailing the health risk of their customers, employees, and communities
Talent and Productivity KPI
As employees are embracing remote work en masse, key organization priorities such as talent acquisition, team collaboration, and productivity measures have also evolved. In this new reality, organizations must quickly adapt to incorporate remote-work in its overall recruiting and productivity assessments. Virtual recruiting and remote interviews are now central to recruiting processes. The proficiency of essential technologies and the ability of virtual collaboration are quickly labeled as minimum job qualifications. Workforce location and related work activities are added as part of the requirements for revised workforce productivity measurement. All of these emerging trends are calling for enhanced analytics.
The development of this analytics needs to integrate additional data elements, including workforce location, effectiveness of adopting/using new technologies, user activities, etc. enhance talent and productivity analytics model to arm organizations with informed talent management, a broader mix of workforce productivity KPIs, and value-added insights such as return-to-work options and office location/space rationalization.
Ready for next COVID-19?
Black swan events, like the COVID-19 pandemic, have the potential to create unprecedented social and economic consequences to our communities and organizations. Millions of job lost, significant business activities stopped, and larger debts added. These impacts are often beyond the scope of an organization’s business continuity plan and crisis management, which are primarily focusing on “high-probability, high- impact” events.
Organizations in the hospitality business, for example, should use this as an opportunity to embed more unknowns as part of their vulnerabilities exposed by COVID-19 and develop unique analytical capabilities for post-event recovery. For example, casino revenue management operations can integrate coronavirus infection data, document government public health response, and even analyze airline capacity and reservation data to strengthen its forecasting and demand model. Conventions and show businesses can develop just-in-time patron clearance so they can meet government mandates to reopen their businesses. Casinos and hotels can pair their employee demographic data with shift scheduling, clock-in/clock-out, and location data to place in ongoing risk assessment. These capabilities will greatly boost the organization’s crisis management and business continuity.
Prior to the pandemic, many organizations across industries have been gradually adopting RPA (Robotic Process Automation) to efficiently process and automate scores of tedious and time-consuming workloads. The disruption triggered by pandemic poses an opportunity for organizations to “up the game” of automation – Smart Automation.
Smart Automation refers to RPA powered by AI, which is capable of processing ambiguity, being able to reason, learn, and make decisions similar to human beings. Using RPA powered by AI (Cognitive RPA), it can process structured and unstructured data in a non-standard format, such as database, spreadsheet, audio/video, connect systems and workflow, and judge ambiguous situations. In a world where the workforce could be largely remote, Smart Automation can provide unparalleled operational intelligence in the remote world.
Cognitive RPA can also be used for deepening customer relationships and personalization. It can customize the workflow to fit individual customers’ needs, enable the best communication channel with customers, and provide best suitable offers to customers.
The disruption of Covid-19 forces organizations to adapt quickly. It’s not easy. But I believe that great organizations take this disruption as a catalyst to develop new data analytics to solidify business foundation and gain a competitive edge.