In late March, executives at the biggest brewer in the world were working on a project they had code-named EU-phoria.
The U.K. was scheduled to reopen outdoor dining in a few weeks, followed by much of Europe. Anheuser-Busch InBev SA’s data scientists were projecting beer sales would surge as people reunited with friends and family after monthslong lockdowns.
In Bangalore, India, Maninder Singh Grewal was feeling hopeful, too. The 38-year-old was AB InBev’s global director of analytics. When the pandemic hit, his team of about 70 had pivoted from making projections for beer sales and supply to projecting where and when Covid-19 restrictions would ease or tighten around the world.
Predicting the next Covid-19 wave proved difficult. But the team had some success at forecasting the extent and timing of a wave’s peak once it had begun. Mr. Grewal and his team had identified dates when the pandemic could spike again in India—holidays when people traditionally gathered in large groups. One by one, those dates had passed with no surge.
Vaccinations were gaining steam in many developed countries, and Mr. Grewal’s team was shifting its focus toward the post-pandemic world, and how the company could bounce back.