Good data and analytics consulting means good communicationFor consulting clients, with so many firms offering solutions, data and analytics risks becoming a burden rather than an opportunity. For consultants, winning market share will rely increasingly on empowering clients to become experts in their own right.
We recently attended the EY Global Data and AI Summit in Andalusia, Spain. As well as offering a blue–sky reprieve from rainy London, the event showcased the extensive range of initiatives EY is developing for clients, and the strategic value they provide.
It was remarkable to see just how broad and pervasive data and analytics have become as tools for businesses; when intelligent automation is added to the mix, there is potential for game-changing transformation. This is an area where the passion that practitioners have for their subject is palpable: there is a sense of excitement amongst consultants about the potential that data offers, and a consensus that we still are in the early stages of the journey.
The importance of data and analytics to clients, too, is clear in our own market surveys. Clients consistently tell us they will spend on data and analytics, even during downturns such as the COVID–19 pandemic, and they know they need consultants to help them maximise that spend. Partly this is because they may lack the depth of expertise internally, but also technology is moving so fast it’s difficult to keep track of developments.
And here, perhaps, is the rub: with so many companies offering services, software, solutions, and assets, choice in data and analytics risks becoming a burden in the eyes of clients, rather than an opportunity. It isn’t surprising, then, that clients tell us that they would like consulting firms to invest more time with them to explain new developments and raise their knowledge base.
As one client recently told us:
“I would love it if firms would come in and simply chat to us about what they are seeing in the market with no selling involved. But in my experience, this just doesn’t seem to happen much. It is a lost opportunity, in my opinion.”
Clients also tell us that whilst the Chief Data or Chief Knowledge Officer may understand the potential that these new frontiers in data and analytics offer, their CEO and Boards still need to be taken on the journey. Not so much with regards to the specific details of technology, but the benefits and transformational potential it offers. Data leads want and need help from consulting firms in making the investment case to convince stakeholders—some of whom are far from technologically fluent—about the potential benefits data and analytics applications can offer.
The message our research conveys for consulting firms is twofold: firstly, that firms must continue to communicate their enthusiasm and passion for the potential of data and analytics tools, whilst demonstrating the practical changes that are possible. And, secondly, that they need to challenge themselves in the way they tell stories about data opportunities. The message needs to resonate equally with data and technology–savvy clients and unfamiliar or more senior audiences.
Data and analytics will remain a sizeable piece of the consulting pie for many years to come—and, as more players enter this sector, firm emphasis on differentiation will only increase. Whilst the winning formula for market share will start with expertise, that alone won’t make the difference.
Instead, we believe that the focus will increasingly be on how your client’s knowledge of the subject can be traced back to your firm, helping them become the expert they need to be.
Ellie Pryde is a Senior Data Analyst in our Market Data team. Primarily working on the Source MegaModel, our global data model of the professional services market, Ellie also regularly gets involved in survey data analysis and visualisation, helping our analysts and writers to create the best stories possible from our proprietary data and research.