Is your organization making the right decisions to innovate and prepare for the unexpected?
As you may have heard, one major US airline recently—and painfully—found out it was not. But its competitors were.
Thousands of people in the US didn’t get to celebrate the holidays with their families last year. They were left stranded in airports, some for days, due to flight delays and cancellations. Of course, a huge winter storm pummeled much of the country, which kicked off the chaos. But many airlines were able to quickly regroup, reset and get their customers where they needed to be.
How? Because they had the right technology and processes in place. They were able to capture and analyze data, adapt and make smart decisions, quickly and efficiently.
Southwest Airlines wasn’t prepared and wasn’t able to manage the turmoil—and is still dealing with short- and long-term implications. This is a prime example of why maximizing the value of technology and implementing the right processes—even in times of economic uncertainty—is a literal imperative to the future of your business.
It’s also a reminder that whether you’re preparing or not, you should always assume that your competitors are.
The perfect storm—for failure
So, what caused Southwest’s massive operations failures?
Breakdowns like this typically involve a number of elements that come together—and fail together. We may never know the root cause or the facts behind the scenes that aren’t being reported.
The president of the flight attendants’ union said Southwest systems were unable to recover because of legacy technologies and processes. The vice president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association said the company’s outdated scheduling software was overwhelmed, so when things got out of position, schedulers were tracking things by hand.
Think about that for a second. In this day and age, one of the largest airlines in the US hadn’t made the right decisions and technological innovations to prepare for a somewhat predictable problem that pops up each year, so its employees were literally trying to keep up during a time of chaos with pen and paper, maybe a spreadsheet if they were lucky.
Innovation drives resiliency
It’s not a question of if your business will face a major challenge or crisis, but when.
It could be an external issue, such as a major storm that impacts supply chain, or market volatility that disrupts demand for your products or services. It could be an internal problem, such as workforce inefficiencies or the need to retain competitive advantage.
Regardless of the challenges you’ll face, leaders and teams need to understand and analyze data being collected across your enterprise to draw the insights you need to make smarter, more impactful decisions—fast.
Here are a few examples of companies investing in the power of digital and data to future-proof operations:
- Autonomous vehicles aren’t readily available yet, but as soon as they are, automaker Tesla is ready. Tesla vehicles even use “fleet learning,” where cars share data as they pass each other on the road. Applying technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) and advanced data analytics, the company is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition and ready for a driverless future.
- Even a global consumer company with what seems like a location on every corner needs to invest and pivot to maintain competitive advantage into the future. McDonald’s uses AI and data analytics to automate and personalize customer experiences—helping better plan for inventory management and potential supply chain problems.
- Impacted by the global pandemic and economic slowdown of 2020, petrochemical manufacturing leader LyondellBasell looked for new ways to maximize value and gain competitive advantage. Our teams worked with them to construct and execute a digital procurement strategy that unites complex data and processes across functions such as manufacturing and marketing and suppliers—allowing them to “future-proof” against change and adapt to evolving market complexities.
It’s always a good time to re-evaluate
Every company will face uncertainty and volatility. Future-proofing to prepare for change and adapt to complexity enables companies to build momentum and ensure resilience instead of falling behind.
Now is the time to re-evaluate your path to digital transformation, reroute where necessary and continue to invest and innovate.
With the right technologies and processes in place, your organization can prepare to weather unpredictable storms, stay a step ahead of your competitors and not just survive, but thrive into the future.