As a business intelligence and analytics consultant, Cause + Effect Strategy’s stated mission is to help clients solve complex business problems using data.
Not that every business is anxious to take the data deep dive. The process at first can seem overwhelming or even unpleasant.
“Helping clients get value from data is really hard, there’s a lot of plumbing involved, and no one likes to call the plumber,” Cause + Effect president John Loury said.
The plumber, however, almost always performs necessary work.
Which explains why Cause + Effect continues to expand its consulting reach. The Henrietta-based firm, now in its seventh year of operation, has grown from eight employees to 15, with two more expected to join the firm in the coming weeks.
Revenue has risen 54 percent over the past three years and there are more than 40 clients on the ledger, some in Rochester with others as far away as the Colombia and the United Kingdom.
“You’re helping them monetize and strategize and apply this data insight,” Loury said. “All this work that we do has to have business value, so adoption and application of this insight is critical and that’s why we’re having success.”
BioWorks Inc. of Victor and Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning of Rochester say they also are having increased success due to insights gleaned from data analysis.
Cause + Effect began working with BioWorks a year ago. The goal was to bring value to the entire enterprise through data and analytics.
“As we’re growing, we wanted to have a more accurate picture instead of just going with our gut feelings,” said Jennifer Ott, the company’s chief financial officer. “Our guts may be right, but we wanted to support it with actual data, and we realized it was not easy to do with the system we were using.
“Cause + Effect was able to walk us through that process and set up visualizations so we could make clear decisions.”
Cause + Effect introduced an entirely new data warehouse structure, creating a data pipeline with pull and push data so BioWorks would have daily updates. Through that data they can now make daily budget and operational-efficiency decisions.
“It’s allowing them to be less reactionary and being more proactive to ensure things are trending in the right direction,” said Michael Sutton, vice president of client services at Cause + Effect.
Said Ott: “They have made such a difference in producing information. In the past, we would have a team crunching spreadsheets every month, and by the time leadership got the results they were six weeks old.”
BioWorks creates products for the horticulture and agriculture industries. Those products are then sold through distributors. In the past, the company didn’t really know the end user.
“One of the big problems in that business model is: How do I market my product when I don’t know exactly who is buying it, because I just know the distributor?” Sutton said.
The distributor could provide some information on buyers, and BioWorks could also make some assumptions. But it wasn’t precise.
“Now they can see right to the end user so they can have effective marketing programs developed so they make sure people are re-upping,” Sutton said. “The ultimate goal will be to create predictive models that assign value to end users and triggers that say, ‘Here’s when you should be buying this, at this amount, based on your crop size, based on the weather.’ The BioWorks’ whole goal is to be the leader in information in all-natural pesticides.”
Isaac is a more specialized example of marketing analytics. The company’s prior customer relationship management software was great for business processes, “but it was not meant for marketing,” said Diana Fisher, marketing manager for Isaac.
Cause + Effect’s deep dive was able to give Isaac a clear analysis of its customers and potential customers within a specific area and demographic, and uncovered data and workflow that supported new key performance information.
Using Isaac’s customer data, the Cause + Effect team appended demographics and built target-model audiences so marketing dollars could effectively be spent on converting new customers, Sutton said.
“We want to send postcards to people most likely to act on it, and we know that because the data tells us they are our customers,” Fisher said.
In the end, the analysis painted a picture of spend vs. return on investment, matching data from a marketing campaign to the business metrics of the client. This gave Isaac a true idea of marketing impacts.
“Now we have pie charts and graphs and trends,” Fisher said. “They brought to the forefront the tables that were in the background. Which market came to us for installation and then turned to us for service? Which market came to us for service and then turned to us for installation?”
Isaac even knows how weather conditions factored into the equation.
“Did we have these customers because it snowed, because there were sub-zero temperatures, because there was a heat wave?” Fisher said. “Now we know.”
Extracting those insights requires a talented workforce. With remote work becoming the norm for many, geographical boundaries don’t limit the search area for Cause + Effect. Six employees are based in Rochester and the other nine are elsewhere, including in California, Texas and India.
“We’re really trying to find the best and the brightest that we possibly can,” Loury said. “People are willing to work remotely today so the talent pool has increased, but also the cost has increased quite a bit.
“We’re now competing directly with our much larger peers. We’re all going after the same people. It used to be we had our talent pool in Western New York and the Finger Lakes, and they had theirs. Well, now we can go after some of their talent, but at the same time, we have to pay them like those big firms pay them.”
In the end, that talent enables Cause + Effect’s clients to make sense of — and make use of — complex data.
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