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NEW DELHI: Covid-19 and the lockdown that followed have disrupted businesses across India. For many, the lack of actionable data on how the pandemic impacts their business and industry is a major challenge. Using their data and analytical insights, UK-based Dun & Bradstreet has come up with a covid-19 impact index which can help businesses assess credit, supply chain and sales pipeline risk. In an interview with Mint, Julian Prower, global COO, managing director, Dun & Bradstreet India explains how businesses can benefit from the index and shares some key findings from India. Edited excerpts:

What is the covid-19 impact index and what kind of insights does it generate and provide to business?

The impact index is a 1-100 index (not a predictive score) that aims to quantify the impact on a business’s operations due to covid-19. It provides five core metrics, which help demonstrate a multi-dimensional view of business impact by considering a business’ location (confirmed cases, number of deaths, district wise red/green/orange classifications), industry they belong to, network (impact based on the company risk, location and industry indexes) and credit health.

How is the index being leveraged by businesses in India? Please give an Indian case study if possible?

We have seen a significant traction with businesses in India. We have, over the past three months, engaged with over hundred Indian businesses across all sectors offering complimentary health scans to their customer and/ or supplier portfolios.

To cite few examples, we have supported multiple IT Services firms in India to analyze the impact of covid-19 on their customer base helping them to make better decisions related to contract renewals, assessing sales pipelines and risk exposure.

What do the findings of the impact index tell you about India and the impact of covid-19 on Indian businesses that are already not known to them?

We found that manufacturing sector makes up to 10% of all companies in India and is the fourth most impacted industry, after construction, wholesale and transportation. Disruption to manufacturing companies in Maharashtra has increased by approximately 20% between May and June, while the rate has increased by 15% in Tamil Nadu during the same period, implying a worsening of the impact in both the states. Services sector has the highest share (17%) of companies in India and is the 6th most impacted industry.

Services such as child day care, repair services and entertainment services, for example, have endured the most business disruption compared to other services companies. On the other hand, service providers such as hospitals, medical labs, clinics, computer rentals and book-keeping have faced the least business disruption.

How different has been the impact in India compared to other countries like US, Italy and Brazil?

There are of course appreciable differences on the impact of covid-19 on businesses across countries and across states and counties within the same country. Our findings from US showed that manufacturing accounts for 3% of all companies in the US and is the 4th least impacted industry in the US, while also having the highest business disruption due to the effects of trade network. Manufacturers of apparel, motor vehicles, construction equipment, etc. have endured the most business disruption compared to other manufacturing companies.

How can data analytics and business intelligence tools prepare organizations for future exigencies?

Trusted data and analytical insights are perhaps now more important than ever, as organizations look to understand impacts on supply chains, customers, and sales pipelines. Using data to inform effective targeting and account selection will be critical to support economic recovery and re-start go-to-market activity to secure future growth. Data and analytics can be used to manage risk and minimize fraud, identify profitable growth opportunities and adopt modern business practices to help select, manage, and monitor customers, suppliers, and partners.

What are the key market needs and how can data and analytics meet those needs?

Sustainability is becoming more and more important in today’s world. Incorporating ESG (environmental, social, and governance) best practices into every level of an organization is a key priority. In a downturn, marketing expenditures are first to be pruned. Based on our experience, indiscriminate cost cutting is often a mistake. The better approach is to mine data and target prospects with a high probability of conversion and response rate. As we emerge from the pandemic, it is essential to identify the key indicators of business recovery, learning from our past experiences and helping business look forward.

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