Data as a Vending Machine: Flexible Insight On Demand

To meet urgent demands from their clients, companies often need to analyze data in rapid, highly-tailored ways. But they sometimes find this difficult – either because they’re too big and process-based to move fast enough, or too small to afford the necessary capabilities. Either way, find the answer in data as a vending machine.

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One of my clients – a global investment bank – recently contacted me for help with a problem. To meet an urgent request from one of their own clients, they were looking for a specific analysis of some BoardEx data. The issue? In an organization of their size and complexity, with well-defined procedures and rigorous controls around how they analyze and consume data, it was difficult to action the data analysis their client needed within the timeline in which they wanted it.

Put simply, tomorrow would not do. For my client team at the bank, any delay in getting and passing on the data to their own client might make the difference between retaining that client’s business for their next mandate or seeing them go elsewhere. What is more, the problem was not about a lack of resources. There was a big team of data scientists available within the bank. Rather, the barrier was the difficulty of communicating the complex data requirements internally and getting them carried out fast and flexibly enough to meet the deadline. They would have to submit a request, await a response and answer numerous questions – by which time it would probably be too late.

DaaS: Data-as-a-Service – data as a vending machine

Fortunately, a solution was to hand. As part of our service offering to clients, we can provide customized analyses of our data on an on-demand basis to meet any set of criteria or data format that they – or their own clients – might require. Since we already have the data and the tools needed to analyze it for consumption, we are quick to mobilize, and are usually able to fulfill any request, no matter how complex, within 24 hours or less. That is what we did for the investment banking client I mentioned earlier. They were absolutely delighted – and succeeded in retaining their client’s business.

Over the years, I have had similar experiences with many clients across a variety of sectors. Based on these experiences, I have coined a term for this flexible data analysis service: ‘Data as a vending machine”.  Let me explain why. If I want to get a cookie and a candy bar, I can just go to the nearest vending machine, punch in my order – and hey presto, the machine gives me what I asked for. Similarly, with BoardEx data, the client can say they want data for this time period, this coverage in this country and industry with this market cap and revenue, and to have results delivered in a particular data format. We mobilize quickly to process the request and deliver the data.

Any size, any industry

The result for you as the client? Data that flexes with your business needs. The need to tap into this flexibility is not only limited to large BoardEx clients whose internal processes suffer from friction. Smaller clients can face similar problems for different reasons, since they may lack the resources to digest, analyze and consume data in the way they want it. As with bigger clients, the solution is for BoardEx to listen to their needs, do the heavy lifting and provide what they require via a data feed. So it’s a service that’s suited to clients of any size in any industry. Plus, in every case, it can make the difference between winning or losing a customer or an assignment.

‘Data as a vending machine’ also helps to overcome the issue of having to deal with the complexity of different data formats and applications. If a client wants data insights delivered in a simple Excel spreadsheet or CSV format, they will often be able to do that themselves. But to conduct and digest more complex data analyses they may need someone with more advanced skills, such as knowledge of API integration or of how to use Python. Plus, even if their organization does have people with these skills, those resources may be unavailable because they are working on other projects or on vacation at the time they are needed. The BoardEx team has all these capabilities on tap – and can make them available at a moment’s notice.

Taking all of this together, clients I speak to highlight several benefits from using BoardEx to provide analyses on demand. The biggest advantage they cite is usually time savings, since they get the data they need much faster than they could on their own. Also – especially for smaller clients – it saves the ongoing costs of recruiting and investing in highly-trained resources to extract, analyze and format the data as needed. A further factor is that different individuals and companies have different preferences for how they consume and analyze BoardEx data. Using BoardEx’s on-demand service makes it possible to meet these preferences in a quick and flexible way, even if a request is a complete outlier from the norm.

A service offering set for growth

I am already seeing strong demand from a wide array of BoardEx clients for having speedy and customized data analyses at their fingertips. However, I think the growth in this area has much further to go. As clients in the business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) segments evolve their digital strategies, they are also seeking greater speed and flexibility of data access to give them a competitive edge in the marketplace. In many cases – as I have described above – they face organizational barriers to getting that access. Which is where BoardEx can come in.

The message is clear. If your business wants fast and flexible analyses of people and relationship intelligence such as BoardEx data, you always have the option of carrying them out in-house. But if you are bound by a shortage of time, resources or advanced analytical capabilities, we are here to help – by acting as your data vending machine.

About the author

Lorna Bian
Senior Account Manager at | + posts

Lorna is a Senior Account Manager at BoardEx and manages client accounts in the consuling and investment banking sectors. She joined the company from Roubini Global Economics in 2015 where she worked with clients in the hedge fund industry. Lorna is bilingual; she speaks Chinese and English. She is a sponsor of World Vision and a 5-time Ironman 70.3 triathlon finisher.

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