Choosing the Right Data Analytics Service Provider for Your Organization

Analytics leaders, even CDOs, oftentimes lack the internal resources needed to accelerate and scale advanced analytics solutions that drive business value. But with hundreds of possible service providers out there, it may be equally challenging deciding which is a good fit for your organization.

When to select an analytics provider

While there’s no overarching “right time” for selecting an analytics provider, a couple of factors specific to your organization may be good indicators:

  • Current costs – Does your legacy and outdated technology require constant maintenance and valuable time from IT and your other employees? A new reliable system would eliminate such costs 
  • Market condition shifts – Can your organization properly react to shifts in the market? If you’re increasingly challenged here, you might be in need of a new analytics platform, as those with advanced analytics solutions react to market changes faster 

Implementing a new analytics solution can be costly, but there are circumstances where the investment is more than justified.

How to select an analytics provider

When reviewing potential providers you should always start with the problem you’re looking to solve. Other important factors to address include:

  • Storytelling – Does the advanced analytics solution address the needs of your enterprise? If not, it’s useless. Ask your potential provider what statistically significant insights they’ve uncovered for their clients
  • Adaptability – The advanced analytics space changes constantly, as does data quality and availability. Ask your potential provider how they handle missing data, poor quality data and changes in data formatting
  • Scalability – Among other capabilities, an advanced analytics solution should scale analytical problem solving for stakeholders. Ask your potential provider to demonstrate their solution with realistic data volumes

Additional considerations when selecting an analytics provider

The questions above should help you significantly narrow down your list of potential providers, but a quality solution does not guarantee a smooth and advantageous partnership. Think about the relationship you’ll have in the long-term, including how they’ll handle missteps that could arise down the road:  

  • Professional services and support – Ideally your advanced analytics solution will run constantly, but problems are sometimes inevitable. Does the provider have a dedicated support team that’s available when you need them?
  • Data ownership – It’s crucial that your enterprise retain control over its data, Cement this when discussing the details of your partnership. Do you thoroughly understand if you retain full control over your data and can retrieve data stored by the provider?

Managing the relationship between your organization and provider

Consider the relationship you’ll have with your provider long term, but your direct relationship isn’t the only one that matters and ultimately it’s your employees – data scientists, IT and business intelligence staff – who will work with most frequently with the provider. To determine the potential relationship between your organization and provider, keep the following points in mind before making a decision: 

  • Advisors – Your analytics provider should be a trusted advisor. In addition to showing their solution, your provider should teach your employees how to better leverage data and analytics overall 
  • Onboarding – Your provider’s onboarding, length of time, level of detail and format (e.g., on-site), can help indicate expectations for the relationship. Make sure you understand the process in full 
  • Feedback – Your employees who will most interact with the provider should speak with the provider’s team beforehand. Get their thoughts, especially on how they see themselves working with the provider 

It’s also important to recognize the limits of providers; some work exclusively with cloud solutions while others only work in certain industries. Despite friendliness or competitive pricing, some providers are simply not a good fit.

When selecting a provider, take sufficient time. Doing so is necessary to ensure a continuing and valuable partnership ensues.

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