Weathering Turbulence with a Data-Savvy Workforce

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Data Society          
machine learning
September 2022          
machine learning         Blog
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Many enterprises are navigating the murky terrain between persistent challenges and hazy outlooks. As they continue to grapple with the impacts of inflation, ongoing supply chain disruptions, and workforce challenges, companies must also consider the possibility of deepening economic woes on the horizon. However, while business leaders are prudent to prepare for the possibility of cutbacks, current pressures and the prospect of hard times aren’t necessarily a prescription for a strictly austere approach in all areas. Investing in two critical resources— technology and talent—might prove instrumental in helping companies remain resilient through adversity and emerge stronger in the recovery period that follows.

On a Bumpy Road Toward Uncertain Terrain

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Despite substantial unemployment numbers, this year’s second quarter of declining economic growth is prompting business leaders to brace for a possible economic downturn. Meanwhile, widely recognized staffing challenges remain a cause for concern, with three out of four employers reporting difficulty hiring the workers they need. Further, according to a 2021 McKinsey Quarterly report, 87% of companies worldwide said they were experiencing skills gaps or expected to experience them within the next few years.  

To steel themselves against existing turbulence and uncertainty about the future, many companies are considering areas where they can trim budgets. However, there are compelling arguments for maintaining or increasing investments in specific resources amid economic instability. 

Digital innovation, according to many experts, is one of these resources. According to a CNBC Technology Executive Council survey, three-quarters of tech leaders surveyed expect their companies to invest more in technology this year, with none reporting they expect to spend less. The report notes, “Tech leaders say if they’ve learned anything from past downturns, it’s that technology is not a cost center but rather a business driver.”

In this spirit, some companies remain unwavering in their commitment to continuing to invest in digital transformation and technology despite, and in many cases because of, staffing challenges and the looming prospects of economic hardship. Not limited to tech enterprises, the merits of this strategy may be applicable across industries as the business value that technologies such as AI and ML offer can extend to any organization, conferring the cost-saving and profit-driving benefits that companies need most in lean times. 

Digital Investment to Manage Economic Hardships

Staying the course toward technological progress in this volatile climate can benefit companies through instability and beyond. Equipping teams with data science technologies and skills will improve operational efficiency, resource management, and decision-making to help offset revenue shortfalls and increased supply costs. In addition to helping companies weather—perhaps even flourish in—tough times, these capabilities can position them to thrive in the wake of the downturn, which history suggests may usher in a period of economic growth. 

It is no coincidence that the competitive advantages companies gain from data science, AI, and ML solutions mirror the strengths that will likely sustain them through an economic downturn. These technologies can help businesses mitigate loss, drive cost savings, and boost revenue by:

  • Powering predictive analytics to anticipate and manage supply chain disruptions.
  • Automating time-consuming tasks.
  • Streamlining workflow and increasing operational efficiency.
  • Enabling targeted marketing.
  • Informing effective decision-making.
  • Offering tools for improved customer service.
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Data science applications can aid organizations in minimizing the setbacks of a downturn by helping them maintain the bottom line and retain, nurture, and optimize an eternally vital resource—human talent. 

Digital Investment to Meet Hiring and Retention Challenges

While trimming the workforce to survive periods of financial strain is often a heartbreaking inevitability, it is regrettable at a time when employers struggle with pre-existing challenges in attracting and retaining workers who have critical skills. In addition, the departure of employees is accompanied by the loss of considerable assets, such as their institutional knowledge. Therefore, retaining employees is especially important in times of uncertainty because an engaged legacy workforce offers continuity, and the right balance between continuity and progress fosters organizational resilience.

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Fortunately, the data science technologies that can help companies protect their fiscal health during an economic downturn can also help their existing personnel increase productivity and efficiency when these qualities are most sorely needed. In addition, analytics capabilities can even aid employers in gaining insights into employees’ routine functions to inform strategies for aligning with new operational priorities.

To realize this potential, organizations must empower their workforces with the skills they need to leverage these data science tools. Data science training initiatives can help companies tackle several of the workforce challenges they face today by:

  • Improving operational efficiency to support employee productivity and fulfillment.   
  • Bridging the skills gap.
  • Retaining valued employees through professional development opportunities.

The Brighter Future Starts Now

Resources that can help sustain businesses through the troubled times of the moment can also catapult them to new levels of success in the better days to come. Data science can offer solutions to many of the most vexing issues companies face. These technologies can ultimately serve the common interests of employers and employees through thick and thin. In many ways, uncertainty is a constant. However, with the tools and training to extract and apply data-driven insights, workforces are equipped to manage evolving challenges and contribute to their organizations’ enduring success on the road beyond.     


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Data Society provides customized, industry-tailored data science training solutions—partnering with organizations to educate, equip, and empower their workforce with the skills to achieve their goals and expand their impact.

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