Let’s face it; the best way to make your organization more data-driven is to get the best analytics talent within your organization. However that is harder said than done. Invariably the attempt to improve the analytics talent pool leads to compromises like Reduction in scope of the vision, Delays in execution and Poor quality talent.
This is where external analytics vendors can assist by creating an extended analytics talent pool. It is important to spend the time and attention in choosing the right vendor.
So what should you look for in your analytics vendor?
1. Ability to develop a business led solution to the analytics problem
You want a vendor with the capabilities to understand a business problem, translate it into an analytics solution and derive actionable insights. Analytics services vendors with the right capabilities will invest and harbour the right talent to play this role. So it is essential to assess whether the vendor:
(a) has hired and invested in people with skills in consulting, domain expertise and front-end engagement and
(b) is able to articulate an appropriate approach to a business problem you pose.
2. Capabilities in analytics techniques, tools and technologies
There are a wide array of analytics solutions, approaches and techniques that are available. And the key to a successful implementation is to make the choices that derive benefits for the business, are actionable and generate insights. So when assessing the vendor ask for instances where they have demonstrated these abilities. Probe into how they converted the business problem into an analytics solution, why did they choose the specific approach, what data elements were included & excluded, what insights were generated and what tools and technologies were used. The rule of the thumb is if the vendor is able to demonstrate experience and expertise across 2-3 solutions they have built for clients, then be assured that you are talking to a capable vendor.
3. Customer engagement and repeat customers
Analytics outsourcing is in its infancy and many firms are experimenting and learning from it. So the smart thing to do is to check if the vendor has demonstrated steady growth in their existing accounts (a clear sign that clients see value in the engagement) and if a fair share of their revenues are coming from existing customers.
4. Flexibility in engagement and business models
An analytics vendor should have flexible engagement models to suit varying needs of your organization. The ability to scale up or ramp down the analytics teams should be an important ingredient of the engagement. Another aspect to look for is the willingness to work out different financial options at the start of the engagement.
5. Keeping up with the latest trends in analytics
The analytics landscape is changing rapidly with introduction of new technologies, open source options, ‘Big Data’ buzz, data visualization, machine learning algos etc. The challenge is to be able to wade through these terms and decide which of them fit your analytics priorities best. Can the analytics vendor be the consultant who can help your firm figure this out?
To truly harness the full power of analytics look for vendors with the right attitude for business engagement and the right aptitude for analytics.