Five top qualities to look for in an analytics provider
Laura Timms, Product Strategy Manager at MHR analytics, discusses the top things you should look out for when picking an analytics provider.
So you’ve decided to take the plunge in 2020. You know that data analytics can do great things to propel your company into the next decade and you’re ready to take the next steps?
You do a Google search for “data analytics software and services”, only to be presented with 238,000,000 search results of providers who all claim to be the right match for you. With som nay fish in the sea, how do you choose?
This article will explore the qualities that make up a great data analytics provider to help narrow your search and ensure return on your investment.
Strategic partner for life
Look beyond just technology.
Although technology is central to meeting your business goals, it will only ever be as powerful as the support you have in the background. For this reason, pick a partner, not just a provider. What’s the difference? A provider by nature is an organisation that provides technology. Their job is to sell you an analytics solution, but at the point of sale, their job is complete.
A partner goes further, to work with you after the sale and beyond to provide ongoing support. They endeavour to understand your business needs and concerns and act as a strategic advisor to suggest the best technology to reach your goals.
Your organisation is constantly evolving, and the technology that is right for you now may not be five years down the line. With a strategic partner by your side, you’ll have the support you need to get to where you want to be as your business grows.
One of the traps to look out for is providers only offering one piece of technology as a solution.
This is often a sign that they may not have the expertise or specialist skills you need.
As you progress along each stage of your data analytics journey, you’ll need different solutions to meet your needs, and chances are, opting for a provider that only specialises in one particular solution means this relationship could be short-lived.
That’s why, although less common, end-to-end providers are the gold-standard when it comes to analytics providers. As the name suggests, they provide support at every stage of the process: from initially helping you to find the right solution for your data strategy, to implementation, right through to ongoing consultancy and training once you’re set up. Often this isn’t made clear, so be sure to ask.
Partnered with the best technology vendors
Technology in the world of analytics is plentiful, and the constant influx of new gadgets and gizmos on the market can be confusing.
A rule of thumb is to go with what you know best, sticking to providers that are partnered with the biggest names in the industry – think SAP, IBM, Microsoft and general leaders in the data analytics space.
Taking this approach rather than opting for bespoke, less well-known names minimises risk – especially when you’re just getting started. Providers that are partnered with the top dogs, have not only been vetted and deemed as worthy partners, but they’ll also be armed with some of the most innovative solutions on the market.
You can also add brownie points on a provider’s credibility rating if they have partnered with these names for 5-plus, as this shows they’re likely to have a long term and established relationship.
Speaks your language
Not everyone understands the business you’re in, but when it comes to choosing a provider, picking someone that ‘gets’ you is non-negotiable.
It’s essential your data analytics provider understands how different legislations, protocols and concerns that are unique to your industry will impact your strategy.
The danger of picking a provider that has no experience in your industry is that you’ll have the job of constantly educating them about your requirements, and may find yourself having to work to fit the solution rather than the other way round.
If their sector experience isn’t initially clear, be sure to vet them before you make the commitment and ask them if they’ve carried out successful implementations with organisations similar to yours. Ask for case studies or success stories in your industry to find out about their other customers’ experiences.
Good track record
Reputation is everything and you can save yourself from any nasty surprises by doing your research.
Look for a provider that has been in in the business long-term to ensure they have the experience needed to provide first-class support.
You’ll also want to understand the people that make up their business. Ideally they will have a team of experts who specialise across a range of data analytics subjects. This may include areas like business analytics, data warehousing, planning analytics, predictive analytics, and financial reporting, in addition to expertise using specific technologies.
On top of this, happy customers are always a good sign. For added peace of mind that you’re in good hands, look for testimonials and evidence that well-known names make up their repertoire of customers.
Finding the ideal data analytics provider can be difficult. Your provider should work with you to understand your individual needs and identify the right technology to bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
For more information on business topics in the United States, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief USA.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.