Are you delivering drills, holes or outcomes?

03 Sep 2023 | AgileData Network, AgileData Way of Working, Blog


Whether you’re a Data Entrepreneur or an organisation looking for actionable insights, its the business outcome these insights help you achieve that is the most important thing.

Yes you need a data platform and data to achieve these insights, but they are just tools to help you achieve the business outcome.

Do you need a drill, or do you need a hole, or do you really need the business outcome the hole enables?

Shane Gibson -

As we start to scale AgileData globally, I regularly talk to a diverse bunch of Data Entrepreneurs on how we can help them build the lifestyle they want and help them gain freedom they desire.

One of the interesting patterns I have encountered during these conversations is the hole vs the drill problem.

The famous saying goes, customers are buying a hole not a drill.

Building and selling drills

When I talk to data people, they are often building their own data platform which they then plan to rent or sell to their potential customers. Sometimes they are just selling their time and effort to build these platforms and then handing them off to their customers to use and manage. They are building and selling drills.

Often the data platforms they are building are based on a bunch of open source products or SaaS products from other vendors, integrated together to provide an end-to-end platform. They are building drills based on commonly available components, anybody can build and sell the same drill.

Don’t get me wrong, some organisations want to buy a data platform and do the rest of the work themselves. Just as some organisations have a preference to buy a drill and make their own holes whenever they need them.

Selling holes

Other times the plan is for the Data Entrepreneur to build these data platforms and then charge the customers for their time to deliver and support the data outcomes the organisation needs. This is the equivalent of drill as a service, where the customer pays you for every hole they need. Again this is a common business model, but has the risk of a race to the bottom, to see who can be the cheapest at drilling holes. When asked what value you have provided to those organisations, their answer will always be 5 holes.

Helping Customers achieve Outcomes

From an AgileData point of view I think about the value those holes provide the customers. I coach our AgileData Network Partners not to talk about how magical the AgileData App and Platform is for them to use, but to talk about the value it allows our partners to help their customers achieve.

Some examples of this value I have seen from partners and customers.

I have seen the leader of an organisation reduce the time to compile and access the data they need, from 8 hours a week, to have it available at a push of a button whenever they need it.

I have seen an organisation provide their external partners direct access to the information they need, reducing the number of calls to their internal teams for this information.

I have seen an organisation gain automated access to data from over 45 diverse and external data providers and use a consolidated view of this information to improve the value of their targeted funding of those providers.

I have seen an organisation target its debt recovery based on the propensity to recover and increase those recovery rates.

I have seen an organisation migrate its data from a legacy on-premise operational application to a new Software as a Service application, and ensure that all the historical data their teams need to successfully use the new application is easily accessible in one place.

I have seen an organisation who wants to optimise the workflow for processing transactions, so they can improve the elapsed time to complete these transactions and keep their customers happy.

I have seen an organisation gain access to all communications that have been sent to their customers, so they can tailor those communications and ensure they are meeting their customers’ privacy expectations.

Each of these things required a drill and a hole or two. Each of those holes were drilled to different diameters and different depths. But the key wasn’t the size of the hole, where we drilled the hole, or even how fast or cheap we were at making the hole.

The key was that the hole enabled the customer to take some action and that action resulted in a valuable business outcome.

Drills, Holes or Outcomes?

So next time you are talking to a customer, ask yourself are you selling a drill, a hole or the outcome of the hole?

Keep making data simply magical

We provide our AgileData Network Partners with our magical AgileData App, Platform and Way of Working, to help streamline the data work they do for their customers.

As part of the AgileData Network we also share the business outcomes our Network Partners have delivered for their customers.

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