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PROS Task Force Helps Customers Respond to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic came as a surprise to many. The exponential contagious rate of this novel coronavirus has forced many countries to implement aggressive containment measures. Border closure followed by social distancing and stay-at-home orders has significantly restricted the mobility of individuals. The impact of these containment measures on businesses, our supply chains, and the global economy is paramount. Since the last pandemic of a similar scale happened nearly a century ago with the Spanish Flu, no one has experience in managing their business during this crisis.

The important thing to recognize is that you are not alone. Humans have always weathered through adversity by joining our forces to fight the common enemy. And PROS is here to help. Rather than letting our customers feel their way out of the dark in isolation, we strongly believe that by pooling our collective resources and expertise, we will all have a faster and smoother recovery. It is under this principle that PROS has assembled the COVID-19 task force (CTF). With members from our elite data science team and industry domain experts, we are committed to helping you navigate through this unprecedented crisis.

How Will We Help?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic is truly a black swan event, history and experience won’t help, because there has been nothing like it before. The next best course of action is to watch carefully and adapt quickly. This is something our data scientists at PROS are very adept at doing and it’s where we can provide the greatest value. Our goal is to provide data-driven and evidence-based advice that is grounded in science to help our customers manage the current situation.

Since the strike of the pandemic, we have been receiving numerous inquiries from our customers about how best to respond. We heard you. And we have organized your questions and concerns into the following 3 categories based on the time scale of your inquiries.

  1. Managing the immediate crisis: We will provide short-term advice that will help customers manage their pricing needs as a result of the sudden shift in demand. 
  2. Forecasting business recovery: On a longer time horizon, we’d like to provide early signs of business recovery as the pandemic is subdued, so our customers can prepare in advance and be ready to resume business.
  3. Resetting to the new normal: Once a business recovery signal is detected, we will provide another set of best practice recommendations to help our customers execute a smooth transition back to the new normal.

Since many of the category 1 inquiries are urgent, we’ve already begun working with many of you to help you manage the crisis and plan for recovery. A multitude of content and advice has already been published and we will continue to contribute to this ever-growing collection of resources.

In subsequent blogs, we will publish non-customer specific insights for each category of inquiries as we progress through the data modeling exercise. Although not all questions require the analysis of data, many do, especially those under category 2. For example, specific questions around what are the business recovery signals, when your business will recover, how will it recover, how fast, which customer segment can we expect to return first, etc. 

To ensure these insights reach you with a long enough lead time to act, we are approaching these deliverables on multiple fronts. We are working with our legal team to ensure that we can leverage the necessary data to address the above inquiries. With the help of our cloud operation and engineering teams, we are in the process of setting up the storage and computing infrastructure to perform the analysis. We are also working with marketing and customer success teams to ensure we have an open communication channel.

Why and How Should You Participate?

As you can see, it’s already taking a village just to get this started. I am excited about this because it is only through a collective effort that we can solve problems that are bigger than us. As a customer of PROS, you can contribute by participating in our analysis. 

By participating you will consent us to analyze part of your data on the PROS platform in an anonymized and aggregated form. By doing so, you will be contributing to the entire industry by making the business recovery forecast more accurate and more generalizable for all participants. Moreover, participants will receive customer-specific insights as soon as these insights are discovered. This will ensure our customers get the longest lead time to prepare and implement changes needed to resume business.

This is not a zero-sum game. In fact, there is a positive network effect here because the more people participate, the greater the benefits to all the participants. The sum is always greater than its parts. So, if you are a PROS customer, we encourage you to reach out to your respective Customer Success Managers if you are interested. We’d be happy to provide more details around the data requirement if you want to participate. 

If we choose solidarity, we will all win, and we will come out of this pandemic stronger than ever.

About the Author

Dr. Michael Wu is one of the world’s premier authorities on artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), data science, and behavioral economics. He’s the Chief AI Strategist at PROS (NYSE: PRO), an AI-powered SaaS provider that helps companies monetize more efficiently in the digital economy. He’s been appointed as a Senior Research Fellow at the Ecole des Ponts Business School for his work in Data Science. Prior to PROS, Michael was the Chief Scientist at Lithium for a decade, where he focuses on developing predictive and prescriptive algorithms to extract insights from social media big data. His research spans many areas, including customer experience, CRM, online influence, gamification, digital transformation, AI, etc. His R&D won him the recognition as an Influential Leader by CRM Magazine along with Mark Zuckerberg, Marc Benioff and other industry giants. Michael has served as a DOE fellow at the Los Alamos National Lab conducting research in face recognition and was awarded 4 years of full fellowship under the Computational Science Graduate Fellowship. Prior to industry, Michael received his triple major undergraduate degree in Applied Math, Physics, and Molecular & Cell Biology; and his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley’s Biophysics program, where he uses machine learning to model visual processing within the human brain. Michael believes in knowledge dissemination, and speaks internationally at universities, conferences, and enterprises. His insights have inspired many global enterprises and are made accessible through “The Science of Social,” and “The Science of Social 2”—two easy-reading e-books.

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