Why You Need a Superstar Market Data Analyst to Support Your Strategy Development
Why hire a market data analyst?
Recently, I fielded several requests from our portfolio companies in looking for potential support in market trends and data analysis. I wanted to know what the analyses are for, and whether they would be done on a regular basis.
Turned out that a common scenario is happening across several of our portfolio companies that are more mature in their development: the senior management, in particular the CEO or the Chairman, is looking to make a strategic decision and needs concrete data and insights to support his or her decision. Whereas while it was a startup, the company’s market opportunity was obvious and large enough for its management team to make quick, “hunch”-based decisions with limited and incomplete data, today the company has a far more difficult, ambiguous decisions to make, and each false move can be extremely costly in terms of capital and opportunity cost. In a larger company, many more strategic options become available, ranging from acquisition of a smaller competitor or complementary vendor, launching a new product, adjusting pricing and bundles, segmenting the customer base, and therefore the increased scrutiny over decision making and the demand for reliable, rigorous data analysis.
While the OpenView Labs Research and Analytics team is very well positioned to render the services, when I think about how this need really arises from the new stage of development the companies are in and the increasingly complex, data-driven market environment today, I find that it is important that our companies have this capability in house, which they can develop and specialize over time to be even more responsive and finely tuned to the peculiarities of their markets. This is consistent with a new, rising breeds of “strategic data analysts”, who are becoming important, thanks to the growing availability of market data sets and cloud-based, scalable “Big Data” analytics tools. This person will be the right hand resource of the CEO, and he/she will be responsible for finding and analyzing market data associated with the strategic decisions being made, through which he/she will develop and present strategic insights and recommendations to the CEO (and to the rest of the senior management team).
How does a market data analyst help with Strategy Development?
A Market Data Analyst is very specialized in carrying out research and analysis assignments to help the company’s senior management understand trends in the market, the customer base and the competition. The following types of assignments typically fall understand their responsibilities:
– New Market Opportunity: identification of new market opportunity, market size, market competitive landscape
– Competitive Intelligence: analysis of competitors strategies, pricing, market penetration, win and loss rates
– Macro market trends: Identification of market trends, regulatory changes, projected growth (decline) of product market, and diligence emerging competitors.
– Strategic Alliance and Acquisition: research to identify and prioritize potential partners and acquisition targets
– Operational Metrics development and ongoing monitoring: implementation of operational dashboard comprising the most important KPIs and leading indicators of corporate performance.
What makes a great market data analyst?
How do you know when you find a great market data analyst? The following qualities are must haves for the position – at OpenView, we look for the same profiles when hiring for our Market Research Analysts:
- A natural affinity for numbers and data: Numbers, spreadsheets and calculations will be 90% of the work, and one has to be naturally inclined to them to be happy and successful in this position.
- A scrappy/can-do attitude: A crucial part of research and analysis is to devise new research methods, or find new, alternative data sources, often under pressure of a looming deadline. A scrappy/can-do attitude is important in that situation because it calls for resourcefulness and a sense of urgency.
- An eye for patterns: While we assume that anyone with some mathematical skills can eventually learn how to do research and analysis, having an eye for potential patterns in a set of data is a rare gift yet extremely important for this job. In many cases, there will not be enough good data to run a rigorous regression analysis, but a perceptive eye can identify potential patterns and correlations that can be further tested.
- Passionate about Business: While this job revolves around data and analytics, it is important to know that the outputs are meant to make an important impact on the business, and the analyst is expected to translate mathematical results and insights into business recommendations or projection.
- Skills with online research: The data analyst, first and foremost, has to be able to find and evaluate data sources, utilize data collection tools independently and resourcefully.
- Basic programming skills: Data analysis tends to get overwhelmingly complex quickly, thus sooner or later, one will have to start using scripts and programming tools to automate onerous, time consuming data management tasks.
- Ability to communicate clearly and concisely: People either over emphasize this ability, or disregard this requirement completely. In order for the data analyst to be truly successful, they have be able to present, defend and deliver their recommendations. Moreover, even in every day communications with senior management, the data analyst has to become extremely clear, extremely precise so as to minimize any time the executives need to spend understanding and overseeing the research project.
- Tenacity: As with all research jobs, there is always a lot of trial and error involved in getting to the right answer. To do their job well, the Data Analyst needs to have natural tenacity and a “never say die” attitude