In an interview with CIO Applications, Chad Smith, founder and CEO of Liberty Advisor Group, and Brad Holtzman, Director of Business Analytics and Data Architecture at Liberty, speak about the company’s data-driven culture, methodology, and solutions that assure high impact to their clients’ bottom lines.
What challenges do your clients face when it comes to deploying data analytics to upscale their businesses?
Chad: Historically, we have noticed that our clients are sitting on a considerable amount of data, but they either do not know the best way to utilize it, have it spread across multiple silos, or do not have it organized in a congruent fashion to enable their transformation programs. Each of our clients has a set of unique challenges. We take an individualized approach to every project, which allows us to both streamline and maximize the biggest value of business capabilities and technology enablers. Many clients ask us to perform advanced analytics for optimization of a supply chain or pricing structure, but we often find out that these companies have disorganized and dirty data within their systems. They often have multiple systems in place and are not sure if the information they possess is ready for the advanced modeling operations that a data scientist would need to perform. We advise them to take a top-down, business-driven approach to understand what they are trying to achieve, and a simultaneous bottom-up deep dive of their architectural approach. Both of these activities are critical to gaining alignment before investing in a program that would involve expensive data science resources.
Additionally, we emphasize the importance of proper data governance and culture so that the entire business is focused on maintaining a clean and robust data environment that can be democratized across the enterprise. Businesses that operate with a focus on data governance and data literacy far outpace their peers in generating data-driven insights.
At Liberty Advisor Group, we help our clients initiate both technological and organizational transformations to become more data-centric and gain access to the right information in real-time to enable the right decision-making capabilities. We help them organize and structure programs that can be easily managed without burdening their IT teams, and empower them to bring in our data science team to build information models and implement accurate, effective analytics.
Our data and analytics experts understand how to unleash the power of data and realize the highest value through large-scale data and reporting solutions
Brad: Our experience within the full data management stack helps us to understand the challenges that companies face while cleansing and integrating various data sets. We like to hit the ground running and dive deep into clients’ multiple data streams to determine the content that is relevant and useful, and which data is not suitable for advanced operations in its current state. Our team assists clients to speed up the value creation process by focusing on relevant areas and starting restructuring programs to prioritize those efforts. The key idea is to understand the client’s leadership and goals, and then use that information to work with IT and data organizational teams to realize goals as quickly as possible. Too often, we see companies bogged down trying to boil the ocean, rather than focusing on strategic and achievable goals.
ow do Liberty Advisor Group’s solutions assist clients in adding value to their workflow?
Chad: Our vision of applying analytics to a complex and manually intensive process, we believe, is quite unique. For instance, in the cybersecurity space we have developed a product called CyBeta™, which utilizes our client-facing data management paradigms. CyBeta was developed utilizing the same laser-focused, data-centric DataOps processes that we use on client engagements, and applies machine learning capabilities to help protect our clients from cyber attacks. The CyBeta platform breaks down silos, brings in multiple external datasets, and integrates client data. It also manages that data with an inventory that is well defined and governed to create a new, unique data product that our data scientists leverage to create insight. This holistic approach employs best practices across the data stack to allow us to monitor vulnerabilities in clients’ infrastructures and detect known exploitive techniques to lower the risk of attacks.
Brad: CyBeta also allows companies to visualize the impact of a cyber attack on brand and market value in terms of losses, penalties, and remediation. Our ability to blend in our industry knowledge with data science components differentiates us from competitors.
Could you elaborate on a case study to highlight the benefits a client received by utilizing Liberty’s data analytics solutions?
Chad: One of our clients, a major player in the consumer packaged goods industry, was looking to improve its process workflow to drive more revenue. As soon as the client engaged us in a process improvement program, we deployed these same data management and analytic processes. Investigation of the raw data showed that a percentage discount was available for paying early, which exists in almost every contract from suppliers. When we looked at the potential gain for discount improvement, we realized that there was a need for change. A comparative analysis of the client’s historical data versus benchmark data illustrated how much missed opportunity was visible in their data. This call to action approach started a quick-win program, which consisted of data analytics and organizational change that improved their payment discount processes in less than two weeks. The client was able to improve cash flow, operating income and increase enterprise value.
What is the roadmap for Liberty Advisor Group over the next 12-18 months?
Chad: Over the next year, we will drive even more value for our clients using data analytics to create more calls to action. We are using data analytics now on all client initiatives to encourage and accelerate change in processes, policies and planning to optimize our clients’ business processes. Our decades of experience in developing and implementing data and analytics strategies combined with the overall market trends towards more ubiquitous utilization of machine learning tools enables our team to rapidly assess and identify the people, processes, and technology needed to enable a successful data culture.
We will continue to expand cybersecurity our solution, CyBeta, as well as drive analytics throughout all areas of our offerings. Our data analytics team will continue to upscale our analytics capabilities for customer product, vendor profitability, sales force effectiveness, pricing, and build incremental offerings that help our clients to derive value from their improved data assets. Further, we will continue to help clients squeeze additional value from their business transformation projects, and set them up for future success with their well-governed, data-literate organizations.