February 17, 2021

How to accelerate your data & analytics growth by working with external service providers

James Don-Carolis
James Don-Carolis Managing Director

Business challenge:

Analytics Enablement
Data Literacy

With the value of data and analytics becoming increasingly apparent, businesses across the board are hoping to recruit the best and brightest data experts to work for them. This, however, can be a challenge.

For most top-talent in the analytics industry, the best environment is not to work in-house, but to work as part of a specialist agency or consultancy company. That is because in a consultancy they can work with like-minded people, in an environment that exercises high-level skills, and which operates at the forefront on innovation in terms of thought leadership, technology and resources.

Data and analytics is a highly specialised field that requires equally specialised resources. Investing in a large-scale data and analytics team is often not financially viable and, for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in particular, attracting and retaining analytic talent can be an ongoing challenge.

This is why many organisations opt to bring in expertise from external service providers (ESPs). With the right approach, leveraging expertise from an ESP can give a competitive advantage over those who try to make-do with the resources they have in-house.

In this article we will explore some of the benefits of working with an ESP, and we’ll outline how to find the perfect provider.

Why work with external providers?

There are many facets to data and analytics, some of which requires deep knowledge of certain domains. This makes it difficult for one person to be an expert in everything at once.

There are for example, specialised domains for data science, data governance and metadata management, making it difficult to provide the necessary range of internal resources a data and analytics person (or team) will need.

Working with an external provider shifts the weight of resources off the business and frees up valuable time and capital to spend on achieving specific objectives.

Aside from the consideration of financial and resource cost, Gartner found that 50% of companies surveyed buy external support for ‘Vision and thought leadership’ while around 40% stated, ‘expertise in strategic services’ and ‘industry expertise’.

How Chief Data Officers Can Scale the Value of Data and Analytics by Working With External Service Providers

It is clear that what businesses look for in an external provider is not only an expert in the field, but someone who can bring added value to the business through thought leadership in data and analytics, and the industry expertise to apply it correctly.

Top tips for companies looking to work with external providers

With so many potential service providers out there ranging from global system integrators to specialised boutiques, many businesses struggle to choose who to go with. 

On the one hand, large vendors have the ability to scale across geographies, technology and different industries, while on the other hand smaller vendors might offer a higher quality service in one particular area.

With this in mind, we have listed some great tips for how to navigate the market:

  • Establish a framework for the evaluation of service providers based on the needs and vision of the business.
  • Don’t be limited by choosing one single provider because each provider will have an area of expertise that can be leveraged. An options-based approach will mean that you access the right skills for the right job.
  • Create an operating model for how to collaborate with the external provider that will help to establish ‘ways of working’ that are suitable for both parties.
  • And guarantee that a project ends well by ensuring that knowledge and skills are transferred from the project team to internal staff at the end, something that is often overlooked.

Leveraging ESPs for future growth

At the end of the day for an SMB the most important step is to identify the capabilities you have in-house and where the gaps are. Knowing what your needs are will help guide the selection process to finding the best ESPs to work with.

From there, approaching an ESP with specific goals in mind will help to secure the necessary skillset for the job. Keeping in mind that selecting more than one ESP will grant an options-based approach to problem solving.

This article is part of our Data-Driven SMB series. For more information, advice and resources on how to accelerate your organisation’s data and analytics maturity, click here or contact us today.

Business challenge:

Analytics Enablement
Data Literacy
James Don-Carolis
Written by James Don-Carolis Managing Director

James is an economist with 20 years of experience spanning the public sector (UK Government Economic Service), large-scale private sector consulting (with PwC and A.T. Kearney), and start-up through to scale-up business growth (with Concentra). Part of the founding team at Concentra Analytics, James established the Analytical Consulting practice and pioneered their brand of data-driven, technology-enabled, analytical consultancy.

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