How data analytics are changing the consulting industry: Who are data analytics consultants?

Over the last 20 years, a new term has become a buzzword in the business world: “big data”. This refers to data sets that are simply too big or too complicated to be handled by conventional data-processing software. With the growth of big data, the relatively new field of data analytics has started to play an increasingly important role in the world of business consulting.

Data analytics consultants use market insights, AI, and statistics to discover meaningful patterns in big data. Cleverly deployed analytics offer advanced insights into a firm’s performance metrics and the complicated (and sometimes bewildering) changes taking place around it.

How data analytics are changing the consulting industry

Organizations in just about every industry one can think of can gain from the input of a data analyst, from fast-food chains to retail stores to healthcare providers. The insights that can be provided by data analytics can e.g. be of great value to companies who want to find out more about the needs and preferences of the end-users of their products or services.

Across the globe, business spending on analytics consulting is soaring. In 2017 firms spent a whopping $43 billion on data analytics. This amount was more or less evenly split between external consultants and building an in-house capability. With no less than 91 percent of executives believing that data analytics have already proven itself to generate significant value for their organization, both are expected to keep on growing,

Why data analytics have become so important

Using the services of a data analyst holds many benefits for a business. Generally speaking, these benefits can be grouped into the following three categories:

Comprehensive analysis. This can help to identify and unravel business opportunities that until now remained hidden in the sheer amount of data out there (sometimes referred to by industry insiders as the “data swamp”.

Applying a wide array of analytical tools to big data sets allows more questions to be asked and answered. This in turn offers much clearer insights into what is actually going on in and around a business. The end goal is to make sure that decisions are fact-based and highly targeted.

Faster insights. Business managers often have to make decisions very quickly. For that, they need real-time information. With the help of data analysts, management meetings can now use interactive analysis tools that enable them to make decisions on the spot without having to wait until the next meeting.

Living tools. Data analytics also provide management with what can be described as “living tools”, i.e. a set of interactive tools that enable managers to intuitively study and analyze data to find fresh insights on a “live” or ongoing basis. And by using living tools data analytics consultants can add value to projects continuously instead of having to rely on data that is already outdated by the time it is generated.

Four different types of data analytics

Depending on what a business is hoping to achieve, one or more of the following different kinds of data analytics can be employed:

Descriptive data analytics is used when you want to know what happened.

Predictive data analytics is used when you would like to know what is going to happen.

Diagnostic data analytics is used when you need to know the reason why something happened.

Prescriptive data analytics is used when you want to have more clarity about your next step.

If a manufacturer, for example, is having to deal with unplanned stoppages and delays, a data analytics consultant can use diagnostic analytics to help find the reason for these delays. He or she can then use predictive analytics to help decide on the necessary steps to fix these problems.

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