COVID19 digitization

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The COVID-19 pandemic is keeping the world in suspense. The novel virus, which began in Wuhan, China, has been spreading rapidly in recent weeks and new infections are at an alarmingly high level. However, the current status quo and life with limitations is not expected to change until a vaccine and drugs become widely available or immunity has been achieved [1]. Despite the increasing number of cases and the global consequences of the crisis, there is reason to be optimistic in another area: digitization. 92% of the experts say in a survey by the Bertelsmann Foundation, the Münchner Kreis and the TUM Heilbronn campus that the crisis will accelerate the digital transformation [2]. Mr. Dr. Zingel, Member of the Management Board at Siemens Healthineers, sums it up as follows.

“The pandemic, terrible as it is, has proven to be a digitization accelerator”

 [3]

And indeed: Covid-19 is a turning point for the digital transformation and should be viewed by companies as a radical change for strategic structural changes. Companies that have already invested in digital transformation before the current crisis benefit from this investment and can cushion losses. The strategic measures include the continuous digitization of supply chains, end-to-end solutions, digital business models with data-based services and platform concepts, autonomous decisions and forecasts from intelligent AI systems instead of empirical knowledge and process documentation, as well as more agile control models [4].

It is already becoming apparent that digitally more mature companies can react more flexibly to the crisis than digital followers. Many traditional companies that do not massively change their business model and are not clear about the urgency of digitization are facing the end. Actors with an advanced degree of digital maturity, on the other hand, are more adaptable, more capable of acting and more economically viable [4]. A clear systematic digital strategy and the development of digital resilience not only ensure sustainable competitive advantages, but also arm companies in the event of unforeseen crises. Delivery bottlenecks, failure of suppliers, delays, fluctuations in customer demand and disruptions along the value chain can thus be better managed. This illustrates:Future competitiveness depends largely on the company’s degree of digital maturity .

Effects of Corona on everyday professional life and digitization

Governments around the world have ordered exit restrictions, school closings and social distancing to combat the spread of the virus. These measures have led to a drastic change in the everyday working life of many people. Digitization has received new impulses and has been accelerated in recent months. An indication of this is that the use of digital media, e-learning, working in the home office and teleworking have increased significantly. For comparison, the following diagram highlights the prevalence and popularity of home offices in Europe in 2018 [5].

Figure 1: Chart showing the prevalence of home office in Europe in 2018 [5]

In 2018, only 5% of all employees in Germany worked in the home office. In Finland, 13.3% of all employees between the ages of 15 and 64 use the opportunity to work from home. In 2020 the situation will be different: According to a Mannheim corona study [6], between 20.03. and 31.03. in Germany 21.2% of employees work from home.

On the one hand, the increased spread of home offices is a result of government measures. On the other hand, there are several advantages associated with the home office, which result both for the employees and for the company:

  1. Time savings (e.g. by eliminating the need to travel to work)

  2. Focus and minimize potential distraction factors

  3. Spatial and temporal flexibility

  4. Sustainability and environmental protection (e.g. due to virtual video conferences and meetings instead of business trips)

Thanks to this flexibility and the multitude of digital collaboration tools, the current situation is manageable for many employees and family and work can be better reconciled.

It is to be expected that even after the crisis in the post Covid-19 New Normal, many of these achievements and digitization modules will be retained in everyday professional life. Hybrid working models are a realistic scenario against this background. Such models combine presence times in the office as well as mobile working.

Role of data analytics during the pandemic

Data analytics also plays a decisive role in the current crisis. Analytics approaches can be differentiated on the basis of the complexity, the degree of maturity and the information value generated [7]. The following is an introduction to the most important forms and characteristics of data analytics:

  1. Business Intelligence (BI) / Descriptive Analytics : The focus is on the investigation and visualization of past results [8]. The aim is therefore to analyze previous events and to increase the understanding of key influencing factors. A characteristic of this data analytics approach is the use of key performance indicators (KPI), scorecards and target / actual comparisons. Descriptive means that only the past should be described. It will be checked what has happened. For example, monthly sales figures achieved by a discounter serve as a basis for discussion for future decisions of the branch manager [7]. Tools in this category include B. relational databases and spreadsheets.

  • Predictive Analytics : This approach goes further than the purely descriptive method of descriptive analytics. The degree of maturity is higher, as predictive analytics allows predictions about patterns and trends of the future. The focus is on future events. This makes it possible to identify relationships between different factors and predict unknown results. [7].

  • Prescriptive Analytics : With Prescriptive Analytics, the highest level in the maturity model of data analytics is reached. Intelligent software algorithms not only provide added value through forecasts, but also present the user with concrete suggestions for action to achieve the goal [7]. This level is characterized by a high level of complexity and offers the possibility of proactively controlling corporate processes.

Leading software companies and providers of data analytics solutions create added value during a crisis in various ways. For example, data is aggregated and visualized using interactive dashboards and statistics. The graph is based on the number of cases of infections, deaths and recoveries, which are made available by the local authorities of the WHO or Johns Hopkins University. Data analytics thus serves as an important decision-making tool in data analysis (e.g. correlation analysis) as well as in the assessment of forecasts and trends by doctors and epidemiologists. The provision of information and the freely accessible diagrams and dashboards increase knowledge about the pandemic and inform society. [9]

The following table lists well-known providers of data analytics solutions for Covid-19 dashboards:

Table 1: Overview of providers of data analytics solutions for Covid-19 [9]

Software company
Information Builders
Targit
Microsoft Power BI
SAS Institute
Bissantz
MicroStrategy
Tableau Software
Esri

Literature sources

[1]  J. Kohlhammer, Visual Analytics for Covid-19, https://www.igd.fraunhofer.de/projekte/visual-analytics-fuer-covid-19, 2020.

[2]  ntv, This is how the Corona crisis is changing the world of work. “Success factor digitization”, https://www.n-tv.de/wirtschaft/So-veraendert-die-Corona-Krise-die-Arbeitswelt-article21932903.html, 2020.

[3]  Healthcare in Europe, COVID-19 – a booster for digitization. Crisis and opportunity at the same time, https://healthcare-in-europe.com/de/news/covid-19-ein-booster-fuer-die-digitalisierung.html, 2020.

[4]  W. Neuroth and D. Mueller, COVID-19 as accelerator of digitization ?, https://www2.deloitte.com/de/de/pages/operations/articles/covid-19-digitalisierung.html, 2020.

[5]  M. Brandt, This is how common the home office is in Europe. TELEWORK, https://de.statista.com/infografik/21078/führung-von-home-office-in-europa/, 2018.

[6]  AG Blom, A. Wenz, T. Rettig, M. Reifenscheid, E. Naumann, K. Möhring, R. Lehrer, U. Krieger, S. Juhl, S. Friedel, M. Fikel, C. Cornesse, and J. Axenfeld, The Mannheim Corona Study: Life in Germany in a State of Emergency. Report on the situation from March 20 to March 31, 2020, 2020.

[7]  M. Stephan and B. Grether, “Predictive Analytics: Basics, Project Examples and Lessons Learned,” Reporting and Business Analytics , vol. 1, pp. 41-63, 2020.

[8]  X. J. He, “Business Intelligence and Big Data Analytics: An Overview,” Communications of the IIMA, vol. 14, 2014.

[9]  A. Bange, Coronavirus-Dashboards, https://www.bi-scout.com/coronavirus-dashboards, 2020.

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