The coronavirus is causing unforeseen disruptions to businesses, but predictive analytics platforms are helping them plan for the unknown. The biggest change that PredictHQ has seen, for its part, since the initial spread of the virus is the number of postponements and cancellations of events, which have increased significantly.
In February, 2020, PredictHQ saw a 500 percent increase in the cancellation or postponement of significant and major events. The company provides value by tracking all changes and new dates in real time as they emerge.
Their data supports that March has been cataclysmic in terms of cancellations and postponements across various markets.
But 85 percent of U.S. sports events have been postponed, and 15 percent cancelled. (While this does not encompass all anomalies, the company is seeing that pattern across categories and countries.) As a result, companies are shifting these anomalies to the future — whether that may be May, June, July, August, September, or October.
“That’s kind of the complexity that we’re trying to help our customers solve at the moment,” PredictHQ Co-Founder and CEO Cam Brown told PYMNTS in an interview. It’s nearly impossible for companies to handle those changes manually because events are rescheduled on different dates. Fluidity also exists around the duration of lockdowns.
The biggest drop in demand the company has seen is with the airlines. According to one estimate, the decline in travel caused by coronavirus fears could end up costing the airline industry over $113 billion in revenue this year. “I think that’s just the beginning,” Brown said, but he noted that there have been “green shoots” for domestic travel in the looking at China or South Korea.
Many industries face coronavirus impacts, but Brown notes that a small proportion of companies are finding the crisis to be “an absolute field day, such as Zoom.” For a large proportion of businesses, however, Brown says it’s a time to mitigate the issues that are arising out of this “unprecedented event that’s happening.”
PredictHQ’s data is used within forecasting, and this type of forecasting can be used for labor optimization — say, having staffers work when it’s busy. And looking forward and past the crisis, Brown says the company focuses on how “can we actually set their business up so that they can optimize their labor force in a more effective way.” The company can also give companies a handle on “what’s going on where.”
It is also more complex for companies to prepare for the wave of returning demand than it is to prepare for cancellations. Some events will be postponed to a different date that could be in September, October, or another time. The company can inform businesses that those events will happen, and they can adjust their forecasts for them. As a result, they can redeploy drivers or have more inventory in stock.
Brown says that predictive analytics platforms provide companies with “answers that are based on data, not on subjectivity.” But they also let companies scale their decision making. As a result, they don’t have to clamber and panic in one particular area (i.e., if London is not on lockdown anymore). These kinds of systems, however, can forewarn companies of that event and give them an indication of how great demand is going to be as well.
And that’s what PredictHQ’s data does as well: it predicts how many people are going to be in an area at a given time based on events that are going to happen.
Brown thinks that now, more than ever, “people are looking for answers but answers that are based on factual information. I think this is where … predictive platforms can actually help a lot.”