What is data-driven consulting? In simple terms, it is the process of making decisions and taking action based on data. To some, this may seem like a no-brainer, but in the business world, it is not always easy to make decisions based on factual information rather than intuition or guesswork. Consulting firms especially have relied on experience, and gut feeling, and have pushed them to be more consistent in some frameworks.
Data-driven consulting can be a different approach, as it can provide many benefits to companies, eliminate uncertainty, increase consulting efficiency, improve decision-making processes, avoid costly consulting failures, and therefore reduce overall project costs. In this article, we will explore these benefits in more detail and explain why data-driven consulting is becoming more important and could be the next evolutionary step for consulting firms around the world.
What is Data-Driven Consulting?
Data-driven consulting is a relatively new field that uses data and business analytics to improve decision-making, and project prioritization as the basis for consulting. It relies on the use of data to guide business strategy, rather than intuition or guesswork. This makes it a very powerful tool, as it can help companies to identify opportunities and problems that they may not have otherwise been aware of.
The use of data analytics in consulting has exploded in recent years, as businesses have come to recognize the value of this approach. By using data, consultants can provide their clients with insights that would be difficult to obtain any other way. This can help businesses to make better decisions and to achieve greater success with the projects or even in the market.
What types of consulting can be data-driven?
There are many different types of consulting work that can be data-driven. The most common are strategic consulting, process and operations consulting, and IT consulting. However, there are also many other types of consulting that can benefit from the use of data analytics. These include HR consulting, marketing consulting, and financial consulting.
Each of these types of consulting can benefit from the use of data in different ways. For example, strategy consultants can use data to help companies identify opportunities and problems that they would otherwise be unaware of. Process and operations consultants can use data to help companies improve their efficiency and achieve greater success with their projects. And IT consultants can use data to help companies optimize their IT systems, IT costs, and to improve their overall performance.
Benefits of Data-Driven Consulting
There are several benefits to using data-driven consulting and advisory. Data-Driven Management (DDM) principles help consulting companies to make the most of their clients project and finally also the client relations. Some of these benefits include:
- Increased Consulting Efficiency: By making decisions based on factual information instead of intuition or guesswork, consulting companies can often achieve increased efficiency in their projects. This is because there is less wasted time and effort trying to figure out what the right course of action is – the data will tell you what needs to be done.
- More trust from Customers: Customers are more likely to trust a company that can show them evidence that their decisions are based on data. This is because they can see that the company is not just making things up as they go along, but rather has a clear understanding of what is happening and why certain decisions are being made.
- Better Transparency: Data-driven consulting can also lead to increased transparency between the consultant and the client. This is because the client can see exactly what data is being used to make decisions, and they can understand how it is being interpreted.
- Greater Accuracy: When done correctly, data-driven consulting can lead to improved accuracy in decision-making. This is because the data, insights and KPIs can provide a clear picture of what is happening, and allow for better analysis and interpretation.
- Improved Project Management: Data-driven consulting can also help to improve project management. This is because it allows consultants to track progress and identify areas where changes need to be made. By having this information readily available, it can save time and effort in the long run.
- Greater Ability to Prioritize: By understanding the data, consultants can often prioritize projects and tasks much more effectively. This is because they can quickly see which areas are most important and need to be addressed first.
- Improved Decision-Making: The use of data analytics can help businesses to improve their decision-making processes. This is because data can provide insights that would otherwise be unavailable. With this information, companies can make better choices about where to allocate resources and how to proceed with various projects.
- Better Outcomes: In the end, the goal of data-driven consulting is to help businesses achieve better outcomes. By using data to guide decision-making, businesses can often improve their overall performance and results. This can lead to increased profits, higher levels of customer satisfaction, and more.
- Reduced Insecurity: One of the biggest problems with making decisions without any data is that it can lead to a high level of insecurity about those decisions. This is because there is no way of knowing whether or not they were the right choices. With data-driven consulting, however, businesses can be confident that the decisions they are making are based on reliable information rather than guesswork or hunches.
- Better reputation: A consulting company that offers data-driven consulting will often have a better reputation than one that does not. This is because customers and clients will connect it with trust and expertise. This can lead to more business and more opportunities in the future to upsell consulting services.
How to start with data-driven consulting?
Every consulting company can start with data-driven consulting by building the understanding, creating a data-driven culture, and using the right tools and platforms.
The first step is for the consulting company to build an understanding of what data-driven consulting is and how it can help their business and their clients’ outcomes. They need to learn what data is available, how to collect it, how to evaluate it, and how to use it as the basis for consulting. This data literacy should be part of every consultant’s onboarding. It is also advised to build a local learning platform to share knowledge and build frameworks that have proven to be useful in different consulting projects.
Once they have a good understanding of the data, the next step is to create a data-driven culture within the company. This means making sure that everyone – from the top executives down to the most junior employees – understands the importance of data and how it should be used in decision-making and client projects. It is also useful to base internal decisions on data, so for every consultant, it becomes normal to talk about data-driven decisions.
Finally, depending on the size some consulting companies build their tools and platforms to enable data-driven consulting. It is also advised to use neutral tools like MoreThanDigital Insights to help them gather, process, and analyze data more effectively and build trust with clients. These neutral platforms can also help in the acquisition phase as external platforms build more trust and circumvent the “Principle-Agent” problem where many business owners are hesitant to trust the advice of consultants.
Problems of Data-Driven Consulting
While data-driven consulting can offer several benefits, it is not without its problems. One of the biggest issues is that projects can sometimes get lost in too much data. This can happen when consultants are trying to analyze too much information, or when they are trying to use data that is not reliable or accurate.
Another issue with data-driven consulting is that data is always built new. There is no standardization of data and the variation of results are high, so consultants have to spend time and effort understanding how to collect, standardize and evaluate it. This can be a challenge, especially when there is a lot of data to collect and analyze. Especially also the lack of a standard model makes it impossible to compare results and give a broader overview across projects.
The principle-agent problem is also a concern with data-driven consulting. Business owners are hesitant to trust the advice of consultants as the results can be manipulated to upsell more consulting. Building trust between the consultant and client can be difficult, but it is essential for a successful data-driven consulting project, this is why it is advised to use neutral 3rd party assessments to build this trust.
Often also data-driven consulting fails because the client company is not prepared or there is a lack of data literacy. This could bring additional challenges to the board as the consultants might have to first educate the client to successfully use data-driven consulting methods.
Data-driven consulting is becoming an increasingly important tool for consulting companies. It can help managers and consultants make better decisions based on accurate data, and it can help build trust between consultants and clients. However, to be successful, data-driven consulting requires a good understanding of data by both the consultants and the clients, as well as a culture that embraces data within the company. Companies should also use neutral tools like MoreThanDigital Insights to gather, process, and analyze data more effectively.