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Acceleration Powered by Data

Pivoting Business Models to Succeed in Disruption

The Change Agent

When a crisis strikes, organizations must act with speed and agility. Accurate, real-time data can deliver the insights that enable leaders to act with confidence.

Navigating Disruption

During disruption, organizations are forced to pivot and quickly respond. While you can plan for potential events, it isn’t until a change occurs that the organization is tested. Resiliency is rooted in data. When organizations develop a response plan, they need transparency and an understanding of how to leverage and optimize data. Make your data a competitive advantage—especially when disruption requires quick action.

A data strategy is crucial to truly maximize the value of enterprise data. As a general rule, any data strategy should be evaluated every three to five years to ensure it continues to align with the long-term goals of the overall business. But with unanticipated disruption—whether internal to the organization or resulting from external factors such as a storm or economic downturn—immediate action is required. To weather the storm, disruption demands organizations act swiftly and with agility. They can only do that with accurate, real-time data. It needs to be collected, evaluated and optimized—on a moment’s notice.

overhead view of trucks carrying deliveries optimized with an effective data and analytics strategy

Plan, Activate, Evaluate

COVID-19 has tested the world in ways not seen since World War II. The virus has cost many human lives and sickened thousands of others, and it has nearly halted the global economy. It has pushed people to their limits, with stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines in an effort to flatten the curve. It has incumbered businesses in ways no one could have predicted. To survive the pandemic, organizations needed to leverage data more effectively, get scrappy and evolve. Every industry was impacted—some more than others, but no one was immune. Companies quickly shifted to a remote workforce, technology projects were delayed or expediated, and many had to reduce headcount. Companies able to stay open in some form were required to rethink how they deliver their goods and services. The supply chain was squeezed, and organizations at all ends of it had to adapt. Unprecedented change forced immediate adjustments for survival. Instead of having weeks or months to plan and make decisions, organizations had to act in a matter of days or even hours.

The pandemic is an extreme example of market disruption. But disruption takes many forms and it seems impossible to prepare for every scenario. In the face of any uncertainty, the value of data is paramount. It is the difference between gut feeling and evidence-based, informed decision-making. Leveraging data, organizations can make real-time decisions with confidence; it enables and influences their ability to be agile, work smarter. And agility is critical in order to respond to disruption. Organizations need to plan a business model, act on collecting data relentlessly and reconfigure the business model if data suggests the plan isn’t working.

Data analytics is a foundational pillar to DX success and one of the top-most adopted technology areas. 1

More often than not, disruption isn’t immediately apparent. Change happens incrementally, almost imperceptibly. That’s why businesses need to be in the proper position to take advantage of data insights. Across industries, data is driving the future, enabling digital transformation, empowering automation and informing businesses’ evolution. All are working with similar goals in mind: reduce costs, increase revenue, mitigate risk and improve the customer experience. Data analytics acts as a leading indicator with the power and potential to guide industries through their evolving business strategy as they aim for these goals.


Spending on customer experience expected to continue to grow 35% in the next three years.2

  • Take healthcare. Patients have encountered virtual healthcare, personalized, in-home health assistance and telehealth delivery. Not only do these innovations enhance the customer experience, but they also create efficiencies for healthcare providers.
  • In manufacturing, there’s a push toward self-sustaining, localized operations, automated quality, predictive maintenance, intelligent supply/inventory management and transportation management. These efforts drive efficiency and ensure goods are delivered in the right volume, at the right time and place.
  • Data has enabled financial services organizations to implement autonomous fraud prevention and loan approvals, which reduce risk, save money and improve the customer experience.
  • In retail, features such as smart checkout, virtual personal assistants, augmented reality applications that let consumers “see” how products work and look, and recommendation engines help predict buying preferences to enhance the customer experience.
woman with medical mask on checking product data on her phone while reaching for an item

Data has powered and informed these future-facing solutions and helps organizations save money, increase revenue opportunities, reduce risk, improve the customer experience.

Market Perspective

Snowflake discussed the importance of near real-time analytics and how to leverage more data, faster, in a recent white paper, and we explore some of those insights here.

Informing Business Through Data-Driven Insights

Why is third-party data critical for personalization?

Snowflake: Your customer data has one major limitation: It only shows you the ways in which people interact with your own company. Even if you are storing and analyzing brand data from dozens of customer touchpoints, that information can’t provide a complete view into who your customers are and what drives their behavior. You can achieve a 360-degree view when you bolster your customer data with third-party data sources, but putting that into practice with a legacy data warehouse can be difficult.9

cargo ship making quick deliveries based on data analytics and a strong data strategy

What are some of the barriers associated with the use of third-party data?

Snowflake: A robust ecosystem of companies has emerged to sell demographic data, purchasing data, life-event data and other data types to help build your customer profiles. This information can increase the ROI of your personalization initiatives. However, getting external data into your environment and converting it into a usable format is challenging for technical teams, since ingesting data from even a single source can require considerable engineering resources over the course of weeks or even months.9

How does Snowflake deliver scalable data enrichment?

Snowflake: Built on top of Snowflake’s secure data-sharing technology, Snowflake Data Marketplace allows companies to publish a variety of datasets, which then become immediately available for use or purchase by other Snowflake users. Users gain instant access to always up-to-date data from a robust and growing pipeline of providers, including Weather Source, Wunderman, LiveRamp and FactSet. This external data is kept up to date within the Snowflake platform, enabling you to quickly and easily enrich your own customer data to derive more detailed, unique insights. By integrating your data with third-party data from the Snowflake Data Marketplace, you can extract insights in a fraction of the time it would otherwise take to engage with external data sources. As a result, you can take campaigns to market faster, conduct real-time testing and optimization, and obtain a 360-degree view of customers to accelerate your personalization initiatives.9

Snowflake equips organizations with a single, integrated platform that offers the only data warehouse built for any cloud; instant, secure and governed access to their entire network of data; and a core architecture to enable many other types of data workloads, including a single platform for developing modern data applications.

Read the complete white paper

Our Perspective

TEKsystems Data Analytics and Insights leaders Jennifer Kling and Ram Palaniappan provide their perspective on data as an enabler for businesses to make strategic, better-informed decisions and shift business models quickly.

Shift Smartly with Data

Change is constant. How organizations respond and adapt to it is the variable. Although it was previously viewed as a supporting asset, data has evolved into a mission-critical component to success and the catalyst for change. Data fuels digital transformation strategies across the enterprise.

“The right data is going to provide insights—both predictive and prescriptive—that will help them plan and prepare for what’s next.

Jennifer Kling Jennifer KlingDirector of Enterprise Applications, Data Analytics & Insights, TEKsystems

Whether responding to disruption or continuing business as usual, data is the competitive advantage if—and only if—leveraged appropriately. Think of it as a journey, not a single solution for a snapshot in time. “COVID-19 has exposed problems that organizations likely already knew were there,” says Jennifer Kling, TEKsystems Director of Enterprise Applications, Data Analytics and Insights. “The right data is going to provide insights—both predictive and prescriptive—that will help them plan and prepare for what’s next. This can be a competitive advantage.” You must have a vision for where your organization intends to go in the next three to five years, and then continuously adjust by way of the insights and opportunities your modern data strategy generates. Data lets organizations shift smartly.

older smiling man receiving package delivery on time thanks to smart data strategies by the carrier

Organizations know data is critical, but they’re always inward looking. I think a huge opportunity is looking outward.

Ram Palaniappan Ram PalaniappanSenior Practice Director of Data Analytics & Insights, TEKsystems

For example, data illustrates how an organization is tracking toward their digital transformation goals. That insight can then be acted on to pivot and adjust accordingly. “Organizations know data is critical, but what many don’t realize is what type of data is needed for their organization,” explains TEKsystems Senior Practice Director of Data Analytics and Insights Ram Palaniappan. “They’re always inward looking, but I think a huge opportunity is looking outward.” Pairing internal analytics with external syndicated data, competitor data and social data is a more holistic approach to data strategy that can be extremely insightful and influence decisions.

TEKsystems’ Tips

Spend is constantly being scrutinized. A well-devised business data strategy can inform cost savings, increase revenue, mitigate risk and improve user experiences. To maximize the value of your enterprise data when applied to a well-defined data strategy:

  • Create clarity. Clearly define data platforms and get consensus on how data is defined and managed across the enterprise.
  • Identify opportunities to innovate and transform. Many companies have been forced to change business models, evolve the way they interact with customers and enhance existing services (e.g., curbside pickup). Use data to do things differently, while engaging customers in meaningful ways. Make the data capture worth the investment.
  • Monitor the supply chain. Visibility across all layers of the supply chain is critical to forecasting needs and understanding where there are gaps (e.g., from warehouses, raw materials suppliers, assemblers, wholesalers, individual retailers/distributors).
  • Nurture talent. Finding a good cultural fit can be the hardest part. Upskill existing talent when possible. Think about how automation and machine learning tools can simplify your technology so a broader population of employees can derive value and insights from your analytics.
  • Cultivate a data-driven culture. Create a cultural mindset that sees and believes in the value of data, trusts and relies on it to pivot and make sound business decisions, with greater confidence.

By 2023, DX spending will grow to over 50% of all ICT investment from 36% today, with the largest growth in data intelligence and analytics as companies create information-based competitive advantages.2

Real-World Application: Giant Eagle

The Pittsburgh-based supermarket and convenience company, Giant Eagle, is one of the largest private corporations in the country, serving 4.6 million customers each year. With more than 400 stores across Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana, and up to 60,000 unique items in any location, the retailer looks for ways to innovate its complex supply chain. All while maximizing efficiencies to reduce costs, increase revenue, mitigate risk and improve the customer experience.

Digital transformation technologies have enabled Giant Eagle to remain nimble and continue serving customer needs in a time of disruption. In fact, in response to the pandemic they introduced a “totally contactless” shopping experience at one of their stores. This free service has not only tripled the number of e-commerce customers they had before, but also boosted employment opportunities in a time of hardship.

A man and a woman smiling while putting groceries into the trunk of their car

The notion of the ‘traditional’ customer shopping experience no longer exists.

Joseph HurleyGiant Eagle

Data analytics plays a critical role in informing any process adjustments. For example, as a grocer, product shelf life is shorter than that of nonfood retailers, and the importance of managing inventory can’t be underestimated. They implemented technologies such as transportation management and warehouse management systems to enhance visibility and create logistical efficiencies. Monitoring fluctuations in inventory and anticipating demands ensures the supermarket doesn’t have too much or too little of each product at any given time. “…Our data integrity and being closely connected to the suppliers and distribution centers ensures a spot-on forecast,” says Joseph Hurley, senior vice president of supply chain at Giant Eagle. “We know what’s going to happen and the amount we’ll need.”

Even before the pandemic the company recognized customers were coming to expect different ways to interact with brands and for technology to meet them where they are. They became the first major supermarket retailer in the area to launch a mobile shopping app, Giant Eagle Mobile Shopper, with features including digital coupons and fuel rewards. “The notion of the ‘traditional’ customer shopping experience no longer exists,” says Giant Eagle spokesperson, Dan Donovan.

Data has enabled Giant Eagle to quickly innovate and adapt to the current landscape, and to meet customers’ basic needs, regardless of what’s going on in the world.7,8

All information shared herein was accessed from public sources as indicated.

TEKsystems Data Portfolio

We believe business success is grounded in data-driven decision-making.

300+ customers, including 20% of the F100
Delivering expertise in modern cloud analytics, data modernization service, AI and machine learning, master data management, data governance and quality, real-time analytics and IoT.

Proprietary tools to accelerate timelines and delivery results
Millions of lines of code of TEKsystems IP leveraged covering 55+ accelerators across AI, conversational platform, data engineering, data visualization and cloud analytics.

In good company
Transformational technologies demand equally transformative partnerships. TEKsystems is proud to deliver data insight solutions across the full spectrum of leading platforms to drive data as organizations’ competitive advantage.

The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of TEKsystems, Inc. or its related entities.

Meet Our Contributors

Jennifer Kling

Jennifer Kling

Director of Enterprise Applications, Data Analytics & Insights, TEKsystems

Ram Palaniappan

Ram Palaniappan

Senior Practice Director of Data Analytics & Insights, TEKsystems

Albert McKeon

Albert McKeon

Contributing editor


  1. State of Digital Transformation 2020 report, TEKsystems
  2. CMO Survey, 2020
  3. IDC FutureScape 2020: State of DX, IDC
  4. U.S. Knowledge Management Survey, Dec. 2019, IDC
  5. Giant Eagle press room, Giant Eagle
  6. Just pop the trunk: Giant Eagle opens 'totally contactless' store in Parkway Center, May 2020, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  7. Giant Eagle, 2018, Supply Chain Best Practices
  8. Giant Eagle is a Supply Chain Leader, Manhattan Associates
  9. How Snowflake Powers Your Personalization Initiative, Snowflake