Welcome to the Innovative Leadership Newsletter, brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.
This week’s article is written by Maureen Metcalf, CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute. It is a companion piece to her interview with Sheri Bachstein, CEO of The Weather Company, on Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future titled Over the Weather: Leadership at the Weather Channel, which premiered on December 17, 2023.
Link to the entire interview:
As a leader, when someone asks you, ‘How’s the weather?’ that’s only half the question. For you, it’s really ‘How’s the weather hitting my revenue this quarter?’ Weather impacts almost every business’s financials in some way…yet very few leaders even consider it in their plans!
From supply chain disruptions to changes in consumer behavior, the economic toll exceeds a staggering $500 billion annually. With weather patterns becoming more unpredictable, developing an effective weather strategy is key for leaders across all industries.
Across sectors, weather significantly influences operations. For the aviation industry, approximately 75% of delays trace back to weather. One major airline employs meteorologists to monitor conditions in real time, working to minimize passenger disruptions. Beyond flight operations, weather also affects critical business functions like manufacturing, logistics, and marketing.
Consider consumer buying habits — warmer winter days may lift ice cream sales while extreme heat limits construction activity. By overlaying weather data with retail purchasing analytics, businesses can identify trends and better predict demand shifts from weather triggers. They can then adjust inventory levels or target relevant promotions to match consumer behavior.
Even the healthcare industry can benefit from comprehensive weather data. For example, The Weather Company found over 70% of their users visit their platforms weekly to get forecasts to prepare for effects on health conditions. So, they provide relevant alerts on bad air quality days for asthma sufferers or tips to stay hydrated during heat waves. Retailers can stock up on products aligned to upcoming weather patterns to ensure ample availability of goods that customers want to purchase. And they can also trigger contextually relevant promotions when the weather drives specific shopping missions.
The same approach applies across multiple industries, helping insurance agencies model risk, retailers stock shelves, and event coordinators plan more effectively. The key is developing a cohesive weather strategy.
With abundant weather data available, businesses should tap historical records, real-time monitoring, forecast models, and even probabilistic projections to inform decisions. While foundational weather metrics provide a directional guide, deriving actionable business insights requires thoughtful analysis.
Leveraging weather data to trigger automated marketing campaigns or to build predictive financial models allows companies to get ahead of challenges and spot new opportunities. When paired with machine learning and AI, these weather-based analytics promise even greater competitive advantage.
While the scale of the climate crisis seems daunting, collective action offers hope. As consumers and business leaders, we each have a valuable role to play. Evaluating your organization’s weather strategy marks an important first step. The next time the weather disrupts your supply chain or when a heat wave spikes sales of your summer collection, think of it as nature sending you free data.
Will you use these signals to actively boost your business performance? The choice is yours. But one thing is certain – with a comprehensive weather strategy, you can add a little financial sunshine to each rainy day.
ABOUT THE GUEST:
Sheri Bachstein began her career with The Weather Channel nearly 30 years ago as a field producer (otherwise known as storm chaser). Today, as the CEO of The Weather Company, an IBM business (and parent company of The Weather Channel), she holds a deep appreciation for and understanding of weather’s impact on consumers, communities, and businesses. Under her leadership, The Weather Channel is recognized as one of the top 10 most trusted brands in the U.S., the world’s leading provider of weather, and the world’s most accurate forecaster, helping hundreds of enterprise-level companies leverage weather data to increase consumer loyalty and business performance.
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