John Guido | June 25, 2020
The digital age has generated a staggering amount of data that, if utilized properly, could be of incredible value to organizations across industries. Data helps businesses understand valuable insights about their customers. Data analytics then helps clients make crucial business decisions, generate forecasts, and plan for the future. With influential companies such as Amazon, American Express, Netflix and Starbucks utilizing big data, many smaller organizations are looking at how they can do the same in order to gain a competitive advantage.
Businesses today are collecting more data than ever before, but what are they doing with it? Unfortunately, in many cases, not much. Despite companies capturing increasing amounts of data and seemingly acknowledging the value of it, an average of 60-73 percent1 of every piece of data held by a business is not analyzed. In 2018, 300 CEOs from across the globe and multiple sectors were interviewed about their thoughts on advanced data analytics.2 One third of these worried that competing companies were leveraging data to gain deeper, more accurate insights about their customer-base than they themselves had.
There are many reasons why companies aren’t currently utilizing data analytics to their full potential. Organizations, particularly enterprise ones, can be very slow to adapt to change, and data hasn’t historically been used as a main input for decision-making. Clients may have a tough time embracing analytics if they seem like they have a high barrier for entry, or if they’re unclear on how exactly data analytics will benefit the company. Another key challenge is that while these companies are collecting a massive amount of data, they do not have an experienced team that can determine which data is useful and which is not. In many cases, these companies are also saddled with legacy systems, so data is often not in one place: Typically, it’s spread across multiple systems without any unifying characteristics, which further impacts the accessibility and usability of the data.
Furthermore, with the bottom line, key goals and objectives, and quarterly meetings with leadership on the horizon, businesses often remain short-sighted to reach immediate project deadlines and goals instead of thinking long term. Additionally, clients can be intimidated by the insights provided by analytics and struggle with how to use the information effectively to make complex business decisions. Clients who eschew data analytics are missing the numerous benefits of digging deep into their data. So, what are those benefits, and how does a data analytics firm actually use big data to benefit their own clients and those of their partners?
4 Ways a Data Analytics Partner Can Help
Partnering with a deeply skilled analytics firm can provide a ton of additional value for your clients. The main benefits include:
How does a business decide what information informs decisions-making? How can a company be sure that office politics, bonus structures and personal biases aren’t what drives focus? Can payment structures have an impact on performance reporting? These may seem like relatively small issues but they can have a huge overall impact on the accuracy of your business intelligence over time. When you bring a data analytics firm in on your projects, questions like these are a thing of the past. A data analytics partner is going to comprise highly trained individuals who are focused on one thing – big data. Having a third-party partner who is unbiased, objective and focused on uncovering the true meaning behind your clients’ data is a huge reason to consider working with a data analytics partner.
Lightwell is a current P2P member and consultancy that provides comprehensive solutions and services for cloud, supply chain, B2Bi and EDI, data analytics, and omnichannel order management. They help companies optimize how they access, manage, and leverage their data, and enable them to increase speed and agility, overcome complexities, improve customer satisfaction, and gain competitive advantages. We spoke with their Vice President of Analytics, Jeff Purcell, about how partnering with a data analytics firm can help clients inform business decisions and eliminate confirmation bias. “It is important to take inventory of all the current data and organize it into one single data house to make sure there is a single source of truth throughout the organization. Having a data-centric approach helps us remain objective when looking at data, and allows us to have a perspective that those in the organization otherwise couldn’t have. By comparing all data and viewpoints against business goals and project objectives, we can then focus on informing business decisions in an unbiased and objective way.”
It can be incredibly tempting for businesses to make decisions based on personal experience, recent company successes/losses, or simply hunches. By including a data analytics partner on your projects, you can be assured that guesswork is no longer a part of your clients’ process. They can explore multiple data points and accurately predict whether clients should continue with that testing they are not sure is producing useful results, or whether a campaign they were nervous about running will be worth the resources spent. Statistical accuracy means clients don’t need to guess whether their organization’s new product or site delivered on ROI.
BI Brainz is a current P2P Global member firm and boutique data analytics consultancy. Their CEO, Mico Yuk, weighed in on the importance of using data to make business decisions within clients’ organizations. “People working with data think that Excel is the enemy. It is not. Gut feeling is the real enemy. Humans make snap decisions using their emotions, but then justify those decisions with data. However, the awareness of how to use data is evolving. It is our job to show clients how to adopt using data to not only make business decisions, but to create a paradigm shift within their organization. We give them a data visualization that can help them make that emotional connection while still making decisions based on data.”
Starbucks3 is a prime example of a company that knows the value of data analytics when it comes to expansion. This goliath of a coffee chain is able to accurately determine which potential new store locations will be most successful by looking at big data. A data analytics partner will allow you to help your clients’ business grow by looking at data regarding, for example, customers, traffic, and asset maintenance. They can then cross-check this against other potential new site locations, enabling their business to confidently decide when and how to expand. This information can also be used cohesively with other business intelligence, allowing more detailed and accurate expansion plans.
QueBIT is a P2P Global member and data analytics consulting firm that specializes in helping companies in all industries effect digital transformation in the areas of planning and analysis. Every company needs to plan, and every company needs to understand what is happening in their business in order to survive, compete and thrive. We are no stranger to the importance of planning. In a conversation with Cathy Jirak, QueBIT COO, she noted that, “Once an infrastructure is set up and a client has the right data, it is easy for an analytics partner to provide an entry point and lay out a roadmap for their business, that way they can achieve their desired goals, both immediately and in the future.”
Big Data Can Drive Big Change
Analytics Comes of Age2, a comprehensive analytics study, explained how big data is being used by data analytics firms to create and grow completely new ecosystems. Artificial Intelligence, for example, birthed by big data insights is now being utilized by forward-thinking companies to gain a competitive edge. A growing number of companies4 now also say that insights driven from data analytics has encouraged them to ditch outdated sales and marketing methods and deliver fresh techniques. This has resulted in a decrease in business expenses while significantly enhancing opportunities for new growth and innovation. By partnering with an analytics firm, you can provide this added benefit to your clients.
PMsquare is a current P2P Global member and data analytics consultancy that helps companies organize their data and turn it into transformational insights, and move away from the traditional data warehouse model of organization. We discussed the role data and analytics plays in affecting business decisions and forecasting with Dustin Adkison and Mike DeGeus, Managing Partner and Vice President of Operations respectively at PMsquare.
“One of the biggest challenges we encounter from our clients is a lack of understanding of how to make their data objectively tell a story. Many of our clients have a plethora of raw data at their fingertips but don’t know how to look at it in a way that provides valuable insight for future decisions, rather than just reporting on the past.”
They continued: “A strong data foundation is essential in order to get those reliable forward-looking insights. A good real world example would be the predictive models of Coronavirus. There were a ton of models available once COVID-19 started proliferating and many of them turned out to be wrong–which wasn’t that surprising because the scientists only had one month of data to look at! You must have clean and consistent data over a sustained period of time in order to get predictions that are meaningful. If you put limited, messy data in, you’re going to get unreliable analytics out.”
Choosing The Right Partner
For many solution providers that do not specialize in data insights, their customers may still be prime candidates for an analytics project. All customers are looking for a competitive advantage and, if done correctly, a data insights project will deliver high value for their line of business. Collaborating with a data and analytics partner for customer engagement is yet another reason to call on the line of business executives. That, and business development.
More than ever, you will want to be prepared to initiate these discussions with your customers’ CMO, CFO, COO and even their CEO. By collaborating early with a focus on business development, you can prepare for the future and educate your sales teams. Partnering with a analytics and data partner will help you qualify customers and know the right questions to ask. These specialized partners know industry pain points, LOB priorities, and can help position the expected ROI. As with any partnership, there needs to be a benefit for both parties: Analytics projects drive the need for more infrastructure, migration considerations, and the list goes on, making this a win-win for partners in any IT industry.
In order to choose the right partner, it is necessary to consider what each firm will gain from collaborating. What is just as important is considering what your clients hope to achieve with big data. There are a few key questions to ask your clients when deciding what data analytics firm would be the best fit for your project:
- How complex are the business issues facing your organization?
- What outcome are you looking for?
- What is your budget?
- Do you have a deadline for achieving the desired outcomes?
- Do you require deep, insightful analysis across a range of issues or are you focused on a specific issue such as using big data to prevent fraudulent behaviour in the financial sector?
Answering these questions should provide you with more insight into your client’s needs and will help you better find a firm to tailor a solution to their project.
Digital transformation is happening now, and organizations who don’t make use of their big data will soon be left behind. It’s important to decide what your clients hope to gain from such a partnership before selecting a firm to work with and realise that some of the many benefits won’t be seen immediately. This is one of the biggest reasons companies aren’t yet embracing digital transformation – not understanding that investment in big data will eventually pay off if done right. Organizations should look to incorporate data analytics as a core part of their long-term business strategy; investment in big data today can return big advantages in the future.
Why Partner Using a Platform?
Cathy Jirak said that one of the biggest ways analytics consulting firms could stand to benefit from using a partner ecosystem platform like P2P Global is through educating the other partners in the platform on what they do, and providing awareness about the solutions they offer. This way, when there is a need, your firm will be top of mind.
We couldn’t agree more. When you become a member of the P2P Global platform, you are able to pre-qualify and qualify opportunities, and add filters to make sure your partner meets the criteria you require to complete a project. As Mico Yuk said, P2P Global is the future of partnering. Learn more about how the P2P Global software works here.