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As we enter into the Independence Holiday weekend, I wanted to drop a quick note. It’s hard to believe three months have passed since my last letter. The world is evolving daily and technology continues to play a critical role in how we all connect, track information and communicate worldwide. Despite the shift toward working remotely, the executive team and I continue to be impressed with the level of productivity, cohesiveness, employee engagement and strength as an organization that we have seen demonstrated by our team. 

Here are a few highlights:

Teamwork. My team has pointed out how their interaction with each other has expanded — collaboratively tackling projects, sharing knowledge to prepare for webinars, and helping clients deal with COVID-19’s impact on their data and business analytics. We’ve hosted weekly Town Hall forums and internal Step competitions that have promoted teamwork company-wide.Under our Strategies for Success free content offerings to our clients, we’ve rallied around our Take30 Series. 

These sessions hosted by Ironside’s Data Science, Data Advisor and Business Intelligence Leads, have made it important for Senior Consultants, Partners and Clients to come together to offer the best of our thinking. The planning and delivery has been mutually beneficial for our team and the ever-growing number of participants who we have shared 30 minutes together, multiple times per week since the start of the pandemic.

Education. This unprecedented time when we are not traveling to clients has offered a time for our consultants to learn additional skill sets and to expand their certifications. One of the greatest values we offer to our clients is understanding best practices related to integration aspects between our key partners: IBM, AWS, Precisely, Microsoft, Trifacta, Tableau, DataRobot, Snowflake, Alteryx, Matillion and Alation. For us, to continue to excel with these partners — cross-training between our Business Intelligence, Information Management and Data Science practices on our most utilized tools — has created many “a-ha” moments toward streamlining our delivery services.

Client Engagements. Despite the sunsetting of “business as usual” for now, Ironside’s business is strong. COVID-19 has impacted businesses in various ways, whether they are operating and accessing data differently or needing to measure the impact of the global environment on their businesses’ analytics. Perhaps now, more than ever, the demand for information and analytics is a “must-have” versus a “nice-to-have.” Some of our clients have found themselves busier than ever and racing to keep up with the demand for new analytics and reports. Other clients are compelled to be more hands-on with analytics that used to be automated by machine learning models that have been rendered invalid. In these cases and beyond, Ironside’s Analytics Assurance Service is here to help. Our team’s expertise is being leveraged for immediate, short term assistance to support organizations running as efficiently as possible, allowing clients to use their own skills for other tasks to avoid stifling tradeoffs. 

Thank you for your continued relationship with our team. From myself and my team to you and yours, we wish you a wonderful Independence Day. Stay safe and remain strong, both in business and in health.

Best,
Tim

The world has changed dramatically over the course of a single month, and companies are struggling even more with things that have historically challenged them:

  • Finding the best people to run, build and innovate on their analytics tools and data
  • Making these environments accessible to employees in a work-at-home model

In this Forbes article, Louis Columbus cites a recent Dresner survey that shows up to 89% of companies are seeing a hit to their BI and Analytics budgets due to COVID-19. The survey includes these two recommendations:

Recommendation #1

Invest in business intelligence (BI) and analytics as a means of understanding and executing with the change landscape.

Recommendation #2

Consider moving BI and analytical applications to third-party cloud infrastructure to accommodate employees working from home.


89% of companies are seeing a hit to their BI and Analytics budgets due to COVID-19.


We’re here to help you explore your options.

Now that the role of analytics is more important than ever to a company’s success, analytics leaders are again being asked to do much more with much less — all while companies are experiencing staff reductions, navigating the complexities of moving to a work-from-home model, and struggling to onboard permanent hires.

To address these short-term shortages (and potentially longer-term budget impacts), companies are naturally evaluating whether leveraging a managed-service approach — wholly or even just in part— can help them fill their skills gap while also reducing their overall spend.

As they weigh this decision, cost, technical expertise, market uncertainty and the effectiveness of going to a remote-work model are all top-of-mind. Here’s how these factors might affect your plans going forward:

Factor 1: Cost

As the Dresner number showed, most analytics teams need to reduce spend. Doing this mid-year is never easy, and usually comes at the expense of delayed or canceled projects, delayed or cancelled hiring, and possibly even staff reductions. All of these decrease a company’s analytics capabilities, which in turn decreases its ability to make the right business decisions at a critical time. A managed services approach to meeting critical analytics needs, even just to address a short-term skills gap, can provide valuable resources in a highly flexible way, while saving companies significant money over hiring staff and traditional consulting models.

Factor 2: Technical Expertise

A decade ago, your options for analytics tools and platforms were limited to a handful of popular technologies. Today even small departments use many different tools. We have seen organizations utilizing AWS, Azure, and private datacenters. Oracle, SQL Server, Redshift all at the same company? Yes, we have seen that as well. Some of our customers maintain more than five BI tools. At some point you have to ask: Can we hire and support the expertise necessary to run all these tools effectively? Can we find and hire a jack-of-all trades?

In a managed services model, companies can leverage true experts across a wide range of technology while varying the extent to which they use those resources at any particular time. As a result, companies get the benefit of a pool of resources in a way that a traditional hiring approach simply cannot practically provide.

Factor 3: Effectiveness of Remote Work Engagement

If you weren’t working remotely before, you probably are now. Companies are working to rapidly improve their processes and technologies to adjust to a new normal while maintaining productivity.

Managed service resourcing models have been delivering value remotely for years, using tools and processes that ensure productivity. Current events have not affected these models, therefore making them an ideal solution for companies  trying to figure out the best way to work at home.

Times are changing. We’re ready!

Ironside has traditionally offered Managed Services, to care for and maintain customer platforms and applications, and consulting services, to assist in BI and Analytics development.

Companies can leverage our Analytics Assurance Services temporarily, for a longer period of time to address specific skills gaps, or to establish a cloud environment to support remote analytic processes.

With Ironside, you can improve your data analytics within your new constraints, while reducing your costs. We’d love to show you how.

Contact us today at: Here2Help@IronsideGroup.com

You’ve undoubtedly heard the term “Self-Service Analytics” thrown around, but what does self-service analytics actually look like in practice? What does a self-service user look like? And what prep work is needed to enable these people to serve themselves?

I spoke with Crystal Meyers, our resident Tableau guru and self-service analytics advocate to learn more. The following is a conversation with Crystal, where she explained some of the nuances of self-service analytics. Read more

At least weekly, I am granted the opportunity to meet and work alongside experienced professionals who serve in a corporate business intelligence (BI) leadership function. When they describe their role upon introduction, there is a common thread to the scope of influence and control which usually intersects one or more of these domains: Read more

Today’s big data challenges for both transactions and analytics are increasing demands on data systems. Traditional data warehouses sometimes struggle as they are often NOT designed to meet the demands of advanced analytics on big data. That’s where solutions like Netezza come in.

IBM PureData for Analytics (formerly Netezza) is a data warehouse appliance that has a purpose-built analytics engine and an integrated database, server, and storage. With simple deployment, out-of-the-box optimization, no tuning, and minimal ongoing maintenance, the IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance has the industry’s fastest time-to-value and lowest total cost of-ownership. Read more

Much has been written recently about the value of transforming data into useful information for decision making. It has become a strategic must-have for organizations to figure out how to use the structured historical data they already own, make sense of the ever-expanding amount of unstructured social media data out there, and implement the appropriate analytics platform to use these assets to their fullest extent through developing business intelligence maturity. Read more