It’s organizations that successfully shift from selling data to selling insights that gain a competitive advantage and a higher likelihood of sustainable revenue growth.
In today’s fast-moving world of digital transformation and intelligent analytics, data is everything. However, as the pace of evolution in business and technology continues to accelerate, vendors must be able to offer best practice recommendations for data usage. Data and content alone are simply no longer sufficient. It’s organizations that successfully shift from selling data to selling insights that gain a competitive advantage and a higher likelihood of sustainable revenue growth.
While often associated with data visualization software, Business Intelligence is comprised of organizations that offer a combination of data and analytics-related insights, services and tools. At their core, these vendors will collect, cleanse and publish data; but also provide advanced analytics and consulting/advisory services that build on top of this asset. What’s most exciting about this space is the fact that both the demand for and supply of data continues to grow at an exponential rate. But in this increasingly competitive space, how do organizations successfully differentiate themselves?
There are three go-to-market (GTM) mandates for Business Intelligence providers that stand out above the rest. These include upgrading offerings to reflect customer use cases, prioritizing recurring revenue streams and investing in customer success. Each is critical to long-term success and drives profound impacts for selling insights.
Selling insights can only become a reality when you shift from communicating what you can sell to what problems you can solve. For example, a flat file of consumer data can be used for a myriad of applications by a marketing manager. Any number of Business Intelligence, Content or Information Service vendors can fulfill the immediate need, set up a subscription and complete the onboarding process. However, that information can easily go wasted and leave a customer questioning its accuracy and ROI if left underutilized. It’s vendors that can speak to the marketer’s objectives, offer best practices, advisory services (e.g., successful digital ABM campaign execution) and provide reliable and well-integrated data and analysis that enter a new paradigm: selling insights.
The ever-growing volume of unstructured data is dizzying. Unstructured data now makes up more than three-quarters of enterprise data but is the most difficult for customers to utilize. Companies are looking internally and investing in data management systems in order to pull together a more comprehensive view of their pre-existing data. It is the vendors providing additional information and services that compliment this plethora of unstructured data that will be at a distinct advantage in the future.
Recurring revenue growth is highly valued by public and private investors across all industries and Business Intelligence and Information Service providers are no exception. Many of the largest data vendors have operated in a “Data-as-a-Service” (DaaS) model for years (e.g., offering license subscriptions or metered/usage-based contracts), but we’ve also seen an uptick in the number of Analytics vendors shifting from one-off, project-based work to ongoing retainer-based contracts to build more predictable recurring revenue streams.
While the recurring revenue model is not a new concept, there has been a rapid evolution in terms of GTM investment in these business models. Organizations looking to drive recurring revenue are becoming laser-focused on maximizing customer lifetime value (LTV). This mindset forces organizations to think well-beyond their customer acquisition strategies and focus on delivering insights and value as a means to maximize retention and build a solid foundation for future upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
In recent years, the Business Intelligence industry has also witnessed increased investment in programs and resources responsible for the retention and growth of existing customers. Business Intelligence organizations are deploying customer success managers (CSM) and client consultants (domain/subject matter experts) to drive user adoption and value delivery. Account managers are collaborating with renewal specialists and CSMs to efficiently secure renewals, but also identify and pursue expansion selling opportunities. In downstream segments, vendors are producing digital-only or digital-first models to provide active customer engagement, but in a lower-cost, one-to-many model.
Similarly, Customer Success (CS) is a key investment area in terms of both engagement and retention strategies for Business Intelligence. Different iterations of the function exist but, at its core, CS is about maximizing LTV via strong adoption and value delivery. Many organizations layer in renewals and limited upsell. Unfortunately, though, as soon as CSMs are tasked with more active involvement in cross-selling, the line between customer success and account team becomes blurred. Many companies strive to have CSMs actively identifying and qualifying expansion opportunities. However, it’s a fine line to walk while maintaining the integrity of the role.
In order to lead practices towards maximizing value, strong collaboration and rules of engagement between seller and CSM are a must. As a rule of thumb, at least 56% of CSM time spent should be geared towards value realization and sales. This begins with developing a formal Customer Success Plan (CSP) for each customer but must be continued by using metrics and automation to track and analyze value realization and protect CSMs’ high-value time. As an ideology for the organization, investment in CS ensures that customers are getting maximum value out of the provided or licensed data and analytical capabilities.
From crediting and financial data to business content and consumer data, the diversity and pace of data being captured, coupled with advancements in AI and data science, have allowed vendors to develop insights faster than ever before. This has held true for the legacy data and content providers, but has also fueled an influx of niche, tech-savvy players to enter the market and fulfill previously under-served needs. By refining offerings to reflect customer use cases, leveraging recurring revenue streams and prioritizing investments in customer success, Business Intelligence providers can stay ahead of the curve and drive long-term growth while insulating revenue and competitive advantages.
To learn more about Alexander Group’s Business Intelligence practice, please contact an Alexander Group practice lead.
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