As consultants, we get to see daily how data & analytics can deliver real business value. However, these game-changing innovations are not always apparent or pervasive to business leaders in organizations and industries that are early on in their analytics journey. As a result, the requirement definitions and desired outcomes from an analytics undertaking are either underdeveloped or over-complicated. Often, business and IT stakeholders are not aligned in their expectations. This imbalance between the business and IT leads to unsuccessful outcomes; leaving the business users short on information and longing for results.

Enter – the Data & Analytics Consultant! In the same way, a healthcare organization knows the impact of changing regulatory policies or a retailer monitors fashion trends, a Data and Analytics consulting firm is always up-to-speed with the latest innovations and leading-edge technology solutions. Add industry and business process knowledge to that, and you have got yourself a good consulting partner.

The primary role of a consultant is to bring order to the chaos, put context to business needs, and foster solutions. Consultants lead from the front to provide strategic guidance along with delivering technology solutions to solve the most complex business challenges.

Just to level set: a consultant should not be confused with augmented staff! A common misconception is that hiring a consulting company is equivalent to merely adding technical staff. Analytic consultants offer significantly more value than traditional staff augmentation. To compare the two in a sentence, one brings solutions to problems and the knowledge base of an entire consultancy, while the other is simply another individual added to your team.

A consultant comes into a client’s workspace with an abundance of industry knowledge, best practices, technical expertise, and, most importantly, approaches that will deliver the highest likelihood of success. A critical aspect that is overlooked is that a true consultant has lived many war stories and solutions in your industry. You are never starting from ‘zero’, when it comes to what works and what doesn’t. What if I told you a short-term engagement with an analytics consulting firm can help you “increase sales by 8%” or “reduce the cost of customer acquisition/retention by 30%” or “improve cost of care in a healthcare environment?” …All made possible by finding gaps in the current information, business process and data model, while enabling business with capabilities they never had before. Given these potential benefits, would you still ask about the value of hiring an outside analytics consultant?

A consultant is focused on delivering high-quality results for goals, large or incremental. Differently, put – consultants do not have a back-burner. It’s all about time to value.

To complement the aforementioned skills, a key competence of a consultant is problem-solving. Bringing in a fresh new perspective to your existing technical and non-technical issues can change business outcomes considerably. Since consulting projects are time and budget bound, they come with a very dense, yet well thought-out project plan that extracts high value in a relatively short span of time and delivers an outcome-oriented process, not just a technology-oriented project. A business outcome-oriented goal supported by a technologically sound delivery of information should lead to well-informed decision making. In turn, this yields more significant opportunities of fruitful business improvements and growth for your organization.

There is even more added value you should always consider extracting from an analytics consultant.

As the stakeholder of a project, one must continuously challenge the consultant’s decisions and proposed solutions. This healthy exchange will make the process collaborative and highly productive. Of course, the reverse holds true. The stakeholder should also be prepared for a consultant to be very honest in opinion/criticism about the current business process, technical eco-system, or the overall approach, in general. Two-way, open communication with the consultant can open avenues both parties didn’t know existed. A good consultant is also equipped to provide effortless enablement for the business and non-technical users; cutting the fear and risk of adopting new technology and skills.

This collaboration between consultant and client exposes the intensions of the consulting firm. A client-centric outcome-based consultancy will always educate and provide knowledge transfer to stakeholders at your firm, and NOT create opportunistic long-term engagements by building self-dependencies into your solution.

Additionally, you can leverage a consultant’s leadership skills to influence other business stakeholders and peers, facilitate a vision to a more data-driven business, and extrapolate the value proposition to each functional area and line of business. A good consultant can find common ground and create win-win scenarios across the business.

Engagements are strategic, technical, and often challenging. Starting a conversation with a qualified consulting firm costs nothing, and you might just gain some takeaways for your business, even in initial exploratory discussions. Engaging a qualified analytics consultant can give you the confidence to achieve that elusive ROI that justifies any data & analytics initiative.

Akash Amritkar
LinkedIn