How to get awesome insight from data as a smaller business (without blowing the bank!)

Can you do smart stuff with data and be a small company? Absolutely. Can it be a humongous time and money drain if it’s not done right? Oh yes.

For many innovative, growing businesses, generating business and customer insight from data is a no-brainer. But when you’re not a FTSE 100 with teams of data scientists at your beck and call, hiring the right guy or gal to wear all the hats can be tricky business. From our own experience, a data project (no matter how small) takes teamwork and lots of smart minds to get it over the line. This is where the problem can start for many businesses.

From our experience, we’ve found you need a barrage of skills to tackle a project with confidence. Here’s some of them:

  • Prepping data: You need decent SQL experience to communicate with various databases and keep information updated and maintained
  • Programming pro: You need to be able to number crunch through programming. You’ll also need to know your way around database and associated ETL tools to extract data
  • Working through stats: You need to be comfortable handling large datasets and building models of different kinds, like distribution models or machine learning algorithms
  • Analysing data: You need to do a lot of number crunching, data cleansing and data manipulation to make sense of the data
  • Visualising data: You need to use analytic tools to prepare visualisations that help decision making. You’ll also need to ensure these visualisations are reliable, fully functional and user-friendly before they’re released.

So yes, a lot to expect from a single person. And for many businesses rushed off their feet with daily reporting requirements, perhaps a whole team. This is why we do what we do. For the businesses without the time and money, we work as a data SWAT team, smashing through windows (not literally) and completing your data projects faster and more effectively than your in-house teams can. This is not to say it’s not a team effort — we often work with in-house teams or individuals to bring it over the line together.

The GIG economy

According to a recent Zurich report, hiring external teams to complete projects are becoming more common — with over 25% of SMEs doing it. Of those that do, 70% say it’s important to the company’s overall profitability and efficiency. There are also benefits in flexibility, with 57% of employers agreeing that contract work was “flexible for businesses”, and nearly two in five stating that it creates greater opportunity to “better manage workforce capacity and effectiveness”.

But is it always the right thing to do? Not necessarily. If you want to do more with your data and have the budget for hiring the right talent, there’s a lot to be said for nurturing and growing in-house experience and expertise. But for companies with smaller pockets, or those with teams that are already maxing their hours — we think it’s a good bet.

Our process

We work with companies that want more insight into their business or customers but don’t have:

  • The right data skills
  • Enough time in the day
  • Enough money to hire full-time staff

Our solution is to fast-track data projects, upskill data teams and build data products and tools quickly and effectively. Our SWAT team is a band of consultants, analysers and visualisers that turn your data into stories and help your business to grow.

Whatever project we work on, whether it’s building tools to discover more about customer buying behaviours or dashboards that show employees’ performance against reward, we use a tried and tested approach:

  • We look at the value of your data and design use cases to help you exploit it
  • We bring your data together so it’s all in one place
  • We cleanse your data to improve its quality
  • We apply different analytical techniques dependant on the insight you want to uncover — this could include descriptive, predictive or prescriptive methods
  • We bring the analysis to life with visualisations and dashboards, using tools like Tableau or PowerBI.

To discover more about what we do, take a look at our website and drop us a line at — we’re always up for a chat.