Data and Analytics as a Service

Our Product Growth Lead, Casey Reid, explains why fractional data and analytics services might be useful for startups and scaleups. 

In recent years, data and analytics have become crucial assets for businesses of all sizes, particularity in tech. Companies rely on data-driven insights to make informed decisions, optimize operations, and gain a competitive edge. As a result, the market for data and analytics as a service has grown rapidly. However, selling DaaS and AaaS (Aaa) can be challenging from a software-as-a-service (SaaS) perspective, with unique complexities that arise due to the nature of data and analytics products. It is often incredibly difficult to show the value of AaaS without actually implementing the tool.

I have never considered myself a “seller” in the classic sense. I always picture Ben Affleck in Boiler Room or someone shilling magazines to people who don’t need them rather than someone offering services, especially ones that are typically sorely needed by the client. When it comes to DaaS and AaaS, Thin Air Labs typically partners with the likes of Mixpanel and Segment to help companies get the full value of their products. Giving advice around which DaaS or AaaS to use for me is less about “buy this thing” and more about “what are the biggest problems you are seeing and how might we fill those gaps.” Thus, when I say “selling” I mean it in more of a consultative sense.

"Since every company’s data sets, architecture and business needs will vary, offering a meaningful service means deeply understanding your client and their specific needs."---Casey Reid, Product Growth Lead

One of the main difficulties of selling DaaS and AaaS is the inherent complexity of the products. Unlike traditional SaaS products that offer specific features or functions, data and analytics products are often highly specialized and require technical expertise to understand and use effectively. Since every company’s data sets, architecture and business needs will vary, offering a meaningful service means deeply understanding your client and their specific needs. Further, some companies don’t have enough trust in their data to make business decisions and thus it is integral to see the bigger picture. As a result, getting the most out of your analytics tool is less about implementing it and more about leveraging it consistently to make business decisions.

Another challenge is that the people leveraging these tools are likely doing so because there are not a lot of engineering resources. As a result, there is almost always an arm of internal education that needs to happen in order to get the value out of your AaaS tool. For example, you might be able to put together a chart in Mixpanel but it is another thing to be able to communicate why the data your colleagues are looking at is important, how to spot meaningful changes and how to properly garner actionable insights. Selling that up front is difficult because it is not really tangible until the tool is in place and there is already a more concrete sense of what the company’s goals are.

Despite these challenges, DaaS and AaaS can offer significant value to small and medium sized businesses, especially when they aren’t totally sure where they stand. The move-fast-and-break-stuff model is getting riskier with less access to capital and getting quicker and trustworthy insights have never been more integral to early-stage growth. Data and Analytics done right at a company can democratize access to data-driven insights, empowering your team to leverage data to compete in the market no matter where you are after establishing product-market fit.

While Growth has become generally over-used as a term, I think that understanding the value of DaaS and AaaS through an organization like Thin Air Labs (shameless plug) can be an important difference maker, specifically for smaller companies. If you are a founder reading this, don’t sleep on data and analytics at your company or try to muddle through an implementation on your own. This is why firms like Thin Air Labs exist. We have designed our services to make them accessible from a pricing standpoint, because we know it almost never makes sense to hire a full time person in this role for your business size.

Whether or not you engage consultants to help you out, you absolutely should be thinking about implementing an AaaS tool (ex. Mixpanel) as early as possible. Even for companies still looking to understand if they have product-market fit, there are a ton of starter or free packages out there to get you off the ground, here is one. Generally though, having reliable data that stretches back in time a meaningful amount will be the game-changer of your business. If you do happen to want to know more, feel free to reach out to me here.

If you would like to learn more about our new Growth service, go here.

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