The ability to turn data into an asset that binds businesses closer to their clients has become a key strategic differentiator. But where do you start?

By Wayne Davies

Right now, professional services businesses face tremendous challenges as a result of COVID-19 and evolving business models. It is undeniable that companies will require more support than ever before. For that, they are going to need fresh, accurate information to navigate this new economic climate and to ensure they are able to identify risks, gaps, opportunities, and industry-specific nuances accurately to survive and thrive.

Data and the competitive edge

We talk to many businesses about how data can help them solve their everyday challenges but more recently we are discussing how we can help drive value with intelligence.

Businesses in the construction sector for example, are looking at data from weather, traffic, and community activity to help them to determine optimal phasing of construction activities. Construction professionals are also using data to bid smarter and answer questions around whether they should bid on a project, and if so, how much. Data tools can help determine if subcontractors’ bids are reasonable, and if a project is likely to run into challenges. Predictive data can break down the costs and profitability of prior jobs, examine the accuracy of subcontractor bids received, and determine when and how past projects ran into trouble.

In the legal sector, we are looking at how to help our clients produce more accurate predictions based on previous case similarities. Lawyers can use data points from past case law, win/loss rates and even a judge’s ruling history to find trends and patterns.

Across professional services, data science and a wide range of its applications offer new opportunities. The analytics of the available data helps define possible risks, improve project management, reduce costs, and ultimately drive strategic advantage.

It’s fascinating yes but importantly – it’s not that complicated anymore.

There are tools out there to do the heavy lifting for you. As a leading Microsoft Gold partner, we leverage Microsoft and layer our own AI and machine learning tools as part of our empower offering – creating our own knowledge graphs to drive insight. You can connect the Power Platform to Office 365, Dynamics 365, Azure, and many other apps to build end-to-end business solutions and gain insight into your organization’s data.

Applications like Power Platform or even the dashboard and analytics functionality built directly into Dynamics 365, will automate data collection. It is not the raw data that creates value, but the ability to extract patterns and generate insightful, game changing forecasts and predictions from that data.

Moving from reactive (problem solving) to proactive (winning)

The amount of data we can collect has grown exponentially in recent years. If your organization has been around for a while, there is a good chance that your data is not very fluid. It is likely stored in lots of different applications, corralled by controlling departments, or constrained by ineffective software that requires you to jump through hoops—or find workarounds—to get to the data, limiting the value you can generate from it.

And – just as data has grown, so too has the computing power we have at our disposal to analyze it. Data science continues to be a rapidly advancing field with new tools, techniques, and platforms – but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

Microsoft invest billions of dollars and significant headcount in developing intuitive and intelligent data applications in the cloud. On top of this, have built business ready solutions pre-configured to deliver value from day 1.

The answer to the most complicated questions often lies in combining the right tools with a clear approach. Data and tech are the cornerstone of digital transformation for sure. The convergence of the two is set to shape the evolution of professional services businesses in years to come. If you are looking for a data scientist or just a fascinating discussion into how you can develop a vision for the future, our Head of labs Moacyr Galo would be only too delighted to share insights into how we are driving value from data.