What do Hair Color, Consultancies, and the Need for New Analytics Have in Common?

The best color in the whole world is the one that looks good on you – Coco Chanel

Management and consulting firms are strategic partners to many global enterprises, helping them tackle critical issues shaping the future of their business. And that future is defined by digital. Tik Tok enables stories to be communicated in 15 second memes, getting whatever you want for dinner requires a few taps on a phone, and millions of hours of TV are just a click away. To survive and thrive in this digital landscape, nothing is more important for businesses than having a real pulse on the tide – even as it starts to change. Insights are required for evolution, and data is required to power those insights. Using data correctly can unlock billions in revenue, while failing to do so can result in obsolescence.

While organizations know they need to bring data to decision making throughout their organization, as research from Harvard Business Review points out, many are falling short in doing so. This is where consultants and advisory firms play a key role. They are experts in driving the shifts, be they organizational, cultural, capability-building, or something else, required to reap the rewards of data. To do so, however, these very same firms need to go beyond the traditional technologies and tools of old, and embrace emerging technologies to deliver truly differentiated value to their global clients.

This transformation that is required of them is not so dissimilar to how hair coloring has evolved. Stay with me on this analogy.

The History of Hair Color

A person with leaves in their hair.

As early as 500BC, men and women alike colored their hair to enhance their beauty. From the deep burgundy of henna,, to the rich shades of mud and crushed walnuts, people sought ways to improve their appearance. Their choices were limited, however, to very few locally sourced ingredients. So, too were their shades.

Fast-forward to the 20th century, and this ritual of hair coloring evolved significantly.

Color choices grew exponentially – it was no longer just about the option for a shade of red or brown. From ruby-fusion to a rich-roast and about a 100 other variations in between, options were exploding. All this, to meet consumers’ demand for ever evolving trends – some so fickle, that temporary hair colors and highlights had to be made available, which could wash-off easily.

As time went on, convenience became an increasingly important factor. Heading to salons to get your hair dyed by a hairdresser not only burned a hole in your pocket, but  added a significant time overhead. At-home hair-coloring kits have become increasingly viable and attractive too – more so in COVID times, as people look to accomplish this make-over in the safety of their own homes.

And finally, there are several, sophisticated apps available to advise you on that absolute perfect shade that’s guaranteed to be most flattering on you – just upload some basic information or a photo and the apps use data and AI to recommend the perfect shade for your face shape, skin tone, and hair type.

What Does This Have to Do with Consultancies?

The evolution in how we color our hair can teach us lessons when it comes to the world of analytics and decision making. Just as we’ve added new tools to our hair coloring kit, consultancies need to add new technologies to their analytics offerings. 

  • Deliver What Customers Want. Businesses in general, and Services firms specifically, thrive on delivering customer delight, irrespective of the type of service rendered - advisory, systems, technology integration, operations etc. Firms strive on bringing efficiency and agility into the system so they can deliver what’s top to mind for their clients. ‘It just works!’ are the three most valuable words in any customer setting, whether that’s an at home hair coloring kit or a analytics solution used by thousands of employees. The business of consulting is built on the pillar of trust and excellence. Advisory firms want to put their word behind a technology that consistently delivers that level of delight.

  • Realize Value Quickly. It doesn’t matter whether you’re making a decision on which shade to dye your hair or helping a customer resolve an issue. Time is money. Management consulting projects can be short in duration, with 3-6 months being the norm – certainly no time to “boil the ocean”! The ability to develop quick hypotheses, and test their validity is fundamental to the strategic consulting process. Gone are the days when service firms were primarily engaged in making business recommendations. A consulting project lifecycle today encompasses evaluation-recommendation-adoption-value realization. The right analytics platform, that not only integrates data from various internal and external data sources, but makes it easy to  find insights from with minimal training, makes it possible for consultancies to show value in a matter of moments. The faster the value is realized, the more successful the engagement.

  • Self-Reliance & Serviceability. For informed data-driven decision making, business leaders require direct, unadulterated and instant access to data. With the many responsibilities levied on them, professionals oftentimes need to act fast and with zero dependencies. Management and Service firms find value in ThoughtSpot’s approach - that puts business users at the forefront of decision making. What would earlier be realized by an army of overwhelmed data analysts, over days/ weeks, can now be done via an AI driven,  ad-hoc search that dives into the very depths of diverse data-sets spanning billions of rows of data, drawing out and highlighting insights in mere moments.

  • Differentiation. Consultancies are helping enterprises engage in some of the most transformational work in the last few decades, embracing new digital capabilities that will make or break their clients’ futures. Every enterprise is looking to do this in some capacity. As consultancies look to partner in these efforts, they need to offer truly differentiated services. Using the same technologies they’ve had in their toolbox for a decade won’t cut it if they want to build something new and effective for their clients. Digital transformation requires new approaches, not tweaked versions of what's been available for a decade. 

Data analytics is not merely a function. It’s an integral part of how modern businesses operate - and management firms always want to lead the way. Doing so requires they find ways to work quickly, efficiently, and effectively to find the shade that is the best fit for their clientele.