September 30, 2020 By David Marmer
Dan Rebella
4 min read

As COVID-19 continues to affect people and economies around the world, significant obstacles continue to slow the return to customary routines. As health experts caution that these impacts will continue to challenge individuals, organizations and governments, economists predict a slower recovery even as businesses and economies begin to reopen.

Plan for anything, be ready for everything.

Facing expected — and unexpected — disruption and volatility, organizations and businesses will require careful planning to emerge more resilient. As consumers and companies focus on new priorities and transform supply chains, businesses need the agility to pivot quickly. Successful organizations will rethink traditional ways of working, planning quickly but carefully, evaluating multiple scenarios, forecasting potential impacts, and creating data-driven, integrated plans to support confident paths forward. Businesses seeking to emerge more resilient will need to:

  • Replan financials to integrate and reset operational plans
  • Create multiple scenarios as disruptions continue to occur
  • Maintain confidence in insights for collaborative decision making at enterprise scale
  • Assess impacts on people, facilities, assets and procedures as operations resume

Uncertain times require certain intelligence

IBM helps organizations survive and thrive with AI-infused solutions that support financial and operational planning, reporting, analytics and business continuity. The combination of two powerful business analytics solutions — IBM Cognos® Analytics and Planning Analytics with Watson — allows users to employ AI to analyze vast amounts of data from myriad sources and test best case/worst case scenario plans. Continuous forecasting can support better business decisions and more accurate planning.

New features now available in Planning Analytics with Watson are designed to help prepare clients for the shifts that may be necessary as they emerge from a crisis. For example:

  • Predictive forecasting is next-generation algorithmic forecasting based on a time series. Historical data feeds statistical algorithms to help predict what is likely to happen in the future, creating a plan that can be refined with additional data and expertise in the organization, without requiring a data scientist. It is as dynamic as you need to be in times where agility is everything. This can be combined with decision optimization for constraints-based plans.
  • Guided planning enables high participation in the planning process to ensure everyone emerges stronger with a collaborative approach. Managers can easily create a planning application with multiple tasks to be distributed to stakeholders while tracking progress to completion, improving speed and accuracy.
  • New charting and dashboarding capabilities allow users to share insights in more dynamic ways. New waterfall charts, layouts, formatting, interaction options, and calls to action engage users in connected planning with a full view of all business drivers.

The ability to customize planning allows users to choose the interface that suits their skills and comfort best. Combining the web-based interface of the Planning Analytics Workspace with the familiarity of Microsoft Excel enables any user to contribute their knowledge and expertise to the planning process. New features in Planning Analytics for Microsoft Excel include alternative hierarchy and hierarchy-aware calculations that enable you to dynamically recast your business in new ways as your organization confronts unexpected challenges.

Not limited to finance, planning extends to sales and operations, which all need to be integrated for any successful pivot. A few of the ways Planning Analytics with Watson can help set your organization on the path to resilience include:

Planning, budgeting and forecasting: Create integrated driver-based business plans that align top-down targets with bottom-up plans to enable scenario modeling to adapt to changes.
Frasers Property Australia uses smarter forecasting to improve management of development projects through efficient use of capital

Operational planning: Drive operational plans to cut costs and improve productivity using deep insights to understand business drivers.
I-MED Radiology network supports business growth with rapid, clinic-level insight into financial and operational drivers

Workplace re-entry: Plan workforce return efficiently and safely by forecasting needed resources and skills by criteria such as location, job role and shift.
GKN Aerospace transforms workforce planning to strengthen its position at the cutting edge of aerospace innovation

Supply chain planning: With disruptions to supply chains, creating accurate supply forecasts helps prevent shortages and stock outs.
Fleetpride & Cresco International transform supply chain management with IBM analytics

Demand and inventory planning: When ramping up stock levels it’s critical to plan optimally to meet demand without incurring costs of inventory and returns.
Allen Edmonds finds the perfect fit between inventory levels and customer demand

Sales planning and forecasting: Post-disruption pipelines may shift; create and standardize accurate pipeline reporting in by sales territory and account.
HEROLD builds sales momentum with more equitable, strategic commissions

A key driver for emerging from a crisis with greater resilience is accelerated, coordinated decision making using consistent and reliable data, which is difficult to accomplish with siloed desktop solutions and data sources. It’s also critical to plan for continuity to address impacted domains such as third-party management, IT risk management, regulatory compliance and policy management.

Emerge with certainty: Your business demands fast, coordinated decisions based on reliable data. By unifying data from all sources and creating a single source of truth, Cognos Analytics helps eliminate confusion and inconsistency caused by disparate analytics tools. Cognos can support tens of thousands of users on a single platform. All authoring tools feature access to the SQL code that powers dashboards, reports and explorations, giving users confidence that queries are generated with transparency.
Learn how L’Oreal connected thousands of users on one analytics platform.

Emerge with stronger operational efficiency: Every organization must reevaluate its expense line, including the total cost of maintaining multiple systems. IBM Planning Analytics with Watson and Cognos use standardization and modernization on the cloud to deliver measurable savings. IBM can help you realize savings across a wide spectrum of use cases your organization requires with the efficiencies of self-service planning, reporting, and deep analysis.
Learn how Electroroute supercharged growth with automation and analytics.

Plan for business continuity: Organizations must analyze the impact of COVID-19 on their employees, operations, policies and plans and be able to document issues and create new controls to support stable paths forward. Effective plans help maintain and resume predetermined levels of operations. IBM OpenPages® helps organizations develop workflows to draft, review, approve and publish plans with prompts for expiry and archival.

Organizations cannot afford to be reactive in today’s unpredictable environment. Proactive, integrated and continuous planning can mark the difference between success and failure. Contact your IBM representative for more information about solutions that can help your organization navigate disruption and build greater resilience.

Are you confident you can emerge with resilience? Take our 5-minute assessment to find out.

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