The introduction of big data and artificial intelligence have made coming to work a learning curve for all of us. In many cases, businesses who struggle to run with the latest and greatest technology are losing out to their more tech-savvy competition.
Traditionally, when business leaders hit these kinds of roadblocks, they bring in an outside consultancy. The trouble is, many of those folks don't know how to truly navigate new technology either. In fact, a recent study by Hinge reported that 43 percent of consulting firms say that making the most of technology is a top challenge for their management consulting firm.
A strategy document is the golden standard of business consulting, and the care and attention that goes into crafting one grows deeper every year. The final product, regardless of what kind of agency created it, can be quite impressive, if lacking details on how to put its recommendations into action. Nowadays, strategy documents can come across rather like armchair quarterbacking - excellent advice, but delivered from a distance, from someone who's never set foot in the trenches.
But the days of strategy documents heavy on the "what" and low on the "how" are numbered. Several factors are putting pressure on the old models, and like many industries, consulting is expanding globally, seeing a value of $250 billion worldwide as of 2016. As competition becomes fiercer and clients shell out more and more money to gain the upper edge, their interests are trending towards far more detailed plans. For an up-and-coming consulting agency, the potential to break away from the pack is clear.
While offering a step by step action plan to turn strategy into reality is easier said than done, there are ways of doing it. One technique that's picking up steam in recent years is analytics, or the analysis of raw information to gain insight into the best decisions for a business.
Big Data, Big Business
Every organization that's turned a profit knows the importance of having high-quality data. Knowledge may equal power, but it also equals money, and the better it is, the more confident management can be in making decisions that will benefit their companies.
But is there such a thing as too much data? With half the earth's population online, looking for the right information can be like searching for one particular cup of water in an ocean. Adding insult to indignity, much of the data that's out there just isn't helpful. In this age of intense global competition, it's practically fatal for a business to find itself in this position, and yet many are doing exactly that.
If a consulting agency can crack this data problem, they can empower their clients to use business intelligence in service of the bottom line. By using BI software, the agency can help streamline the decision making process, creating an agile, fast-responding and rigorous system that outclasses the competition.
While any agency will want to draw on a range of technologies, the bedrock of their strategy should be an analytics software capable of drawing data from numerous sources and parsing it efficiently for the actionable insights of the client.
Even if there's a torrent of data coming in, their software needs to be able to taper it down into only what's needed.
Follow Your Own Example
It's vital for an agency to employ the same data-driven strategies internally as it recommends to its clients. Putting their own data in silos will make accessing it prohibitively expensive and time consuming, effectively hamstringing their operations. While the fear of having their data too easily available to those who might wish to misuse it is understandable, such protections run counter to the purpose of data to begin with.
It's essential to understand the value of data internally so that an agency can make a convincing case to their clients. As long as robust analytical software is making sense of it, every last bit of information provides an opportunity that increases exponentially when it's in contact with others.
It's also important for an agency to ask itself in tangible ways how using data has improved its operations, and what events precipitated a data-driven approach in the first place. It's naive to assume that an agency (or their client) should embrace data simply because it sounds good on a powerpoint presentation, or because the competition is doing it. They should figure out the ways that data directly affects business intelligence and then use this insight to pitch the value to others.
A simple strategy isn't going to cut it in today's globally competitive world. Clients don't have a magic wand they can wave about and turn helpful suggestions into reality. Instead, agencies should be getting their hands dirty, working side by side to use data to boost the scope of their business intelligence and prove how their suggestions can help clients every step of the way.