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.
By Laura Timms, Product Strategy Manager at MHR analytics