An analytics-as-a-service provider is increasingly becoming a mission-critical partnership for businesses in the life sciences, consumer products, and retail industries. The foundation of analytics success within an organization hinges on two things: taking action on results and illustrating business benefit. These are the governing concepts behind our Analytics Activation program – completing a proof of value project with concrete actions that can make a difference to the business. But difficulty can arise with sustaining momentum after a first successful project.
How do you efficiently build out your department with resources to continue to answer business questions with cutting-edge analytics skills? This unfortunately cannot happen overnight. To build an analytics team, you can take the traditional model of dedicated resources by skillset, creating teams with the breadth of experience needed to execute analytics projects. This option can be difficult to balance: you want to avoid excess capacity for resources while you ramp up, and on the flip side, keeping a lean team with optimal capacity results in skill gaps.
Enter a better option for getting access to the skills you need: analytics-as-a-service. As analytics and organizational needs evolve, an analytics-as-a-service provider eases the burden by already having the team that can “wear all the hats.”
Analytics-as-a-Service Provider Criteria
The below graphic shows the flexibility of a managed services model. Instead of the traditional approach of hiring or partnering with consultants with full time resources, analytics-as-a-service allows for a bucket of hours with access to an entire team of data analytics resources, from data engineering to data science.
Many analytics-as-a-service providers will act similar to outsourcing, where there is a very narrowly defined task and that team will execute for you. However, analytics is seldom narrowly and cleanly defined up front. It is by nature iterative and can involve ambiguous starting point questions or business challenges. Thus, for managed analytics, you want a provider who goes beyond simply executing tasks and can drive the analytics lifecycle forward, from initial concept to action. An analytics-as-a-service provider should bring additional things to the table to drive business initiatives forward via analytics:
Process-Centric vs. Data-Centric Methodology: The team should have a business-value-first approach to each project. The team should prioritize business needs and outcomes at each stage of work, rather than trying to just ‘do analytics’ with a data set.
Library of Models to Leverage: Analytics-as-a-service providers will have a library of models and best practices to use as templates to accelerate initiatives. Especially when you work with an analytics-as-a-service provider that specializes in your industry, that team can bring baseline models as starting points, as well as block and tackle items such as master data.
Access to Industry Experts: Advanced analytics-as-a-service providers will not only bring data and analytics excellence to your company, but also experience applying these concepts at leading companies within your industry. While there will always be a need to partner with your team’s functional experts to build right-fit solutions, having functional experts as part of the team will generate the best solutions.
Client Examples from Analytics-as-a-Service
To bring this to life, consider the below client examples from Clarkston’s analytics-as-a-service practice:
- One client started with the Analytics Activation program over two years ago. Our team remains with the client today, providing flexibility to provide analytics services, including data engineering, data analysis, building machine learning models, and formulating business recommendations. The success of this client has drawn from their vast curiosity and ability to ask the right questions that have meaningful business actions. Our team remains equipped to answer any business question based on the wide variety of skills analytics-as-a-service enables. In our partnership so far, we’ve built out: customer segmentation, a graph database for a 360 view of customers, new product launch, and marketing optimization all led by our project manager, who maintains a weekly backlog of new project ideas.
- Another client partnered with us to grow their analytics function. They began with us with a single data resource and a data council that met on a volunteer basis to share knowledge. We helped them formalize their analytics processes, from the intake and prioritization of ideas from the organization to executing the work into production-ready solutions. By starting with a Proof of Value (POV) project, we were able to share the business benefit across the finance, supply chain, and sales and marketing teams and begin to evangelize analytics across the company. The POV project uncovered other areas for improvement; the organization wanted our team to stay on board and build out their data lake and supplement their team of one to begin building data pipelines for analysts. With each success comes another new gap to address, and our analytics-as-a-service team is able to drive that progress in partnership with their client to provide the data and analytics skills they need as their needs evolve.
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