Amplify Analytix: The Art of Building a “Data-Science-for-Business” Company
Featuring Anna Thomas
2022 was an exciting time for Amplify Analytix! We turned 5 years old, which is a great milestone along our journey, and we decided to take a moment to reflect on how it all began and where we are headed.
In this interview with Anna Thomas, Co-founder & Chief Analytics Officer at Amplify Analytix, we talk about the early days of putting the team and resources together, going to the market, convincing our first handful of clients, and overcoming all the little and large operational challenges one faces when starting a business.
Interviewer: Hi, Anna! Thank you for the opportunity to learn more about the journey of Amplify Analytix first-hand! Let’s start with the questions.
How did you team up with Laura Murphy, the Founder and CEO of the company? How did you two acquaint and decide to create the company? What was your initial step in developing Amplify Analytix?
Anna: I teamed up with Laura after working with her at Philips. We were both leading different departments, with Laura heading the business transformation team and me leading the marketing analytics practice. When we decided to leave Philips, we saw an opportunity to start a company that could use data science to support commercial decision-making.
Due to our past professional relationships and collective network, we were invited to attend several insightful workshops focused on marketing and sales analytics business challenges. With over 20 years of experience in analytics, both as users and providers, we were well-equipped with the knowledge of the analytics and data science field. Our participation in these workshops and our frequent interactions with industry leaders allowed us to gain an even deeper understanding of the prevalent challenges faced by businesses across different sectors. This gave us a unique perspective on the common struggles faced by teams in various domains. This insight proved invaluable in shaping our core specialisations, refining our solutions, and defining our methodology.
Interviewer: What was the most enjoyable aspect in the beginning?
Anna: I particularly enjoyed building the team, onboarding new members, and establishing a culture and work style that we could be proud of and maintain over time. Interacting with stakeholders and gaining an in-depth understanding of their priorities is another aspect that I have always relished. Engaging with people has always been invigorating for me, and this role required a significant number of interpersonal skills. To this day, I continue to find these aspects of my work highly enjoyable and rewarding.
Interviewer: What was the most difficult aspect? Were you ever on the edge of giving up the whole idea?
Anna: Despite the challenges, we were never deterred from our vision. In fact, the idea of starting our own company was extremely energising for both of us. The most challenging aspect for me was navigating the operational side of the business and being accountable for every aspect from hiring to office space, salaries, and finances. These challenges also helped shape the success of our company, as we were able to effectively navigate and grow as a result of our experiences.
Interviewer: What were the client’s issues back then? What are the difficulties now, and what will be the concerns in the next five years?
Anna: When we first started our company, growth was the main concern among our clients. While this remains an important issue, the nature of client concerns has evolved over time. Initially, questions were primarily focused on expanding the business, converting opportunities, and moving leads through the sales funnel. However, today, we are seeing a shift towards more optimisation-focused questions, such as how a company can sustain itself during challenging times, reduce operational costs, and proactively anticipate and address possible issues before they arise. CEOs are now asking about improving the performance of their portfolio, optimising pricing, and demonstrating the high quality of their products in order to compete for premium rates.
Looking ahead, I believe that the focus will continue to shift towards resilience and optimisation, without sacrificing the ability to command premium prices for high-quality products and services. I also expect to see more companies looking beyond their existing customer base and towards the wider market or industry to identify growth opportunities. This is already happening to some extent, but I think the focus will become even more externally oriented in the coming years.
Interviewer: As COVID-19 struck the world throughout the company’s early years of operation, how did this affect the data science industry and Amplify Analytix? How did you manage to recover?
Anna: The COVID-19 pandemic certainly had a significant impact. It was a challenging time, but it also presented opportunities for growth and development. Business slowed down and our clients were affected, leading to challenges for us as well. However, because we have a broad portfolio and are diversified across a number of industries – it did enable us to find our sweet spots even in those times. The increased focus on digital transformation and leveraging digital channels for business growth was a big shift post-COVID, and we were able to navigate and thrive in these changes.
Interviewer: As you launched your business almost six years ago, just how different is the sector today? Where is the market headed, according to the CEOs you have spoken with?
Anna: The industry has seen significant expansion in recent years, with a proliferation of market participants and specialised firms offering very niche products and services. The increased scalability of the market has led to a more competitive landscape, with businesses recognising the value of focusing on specific areas of expertise rather than spreading their efforts too broadly. As a result, many companies are now identifying and targeting specific niche markets in order to establish themselves as leaders in their chosen fields.
On this photo from left to right – Laura Murphy, Founder & CEO; Anna Thomas, Co-founder & Chief Analytics Officer
On this photo from left to right – Manoj Jayaraman, Director of Business Analytics, India; Anna Thomas
Interviewer: When you’re looking at the growth, do you think about the difference between new accounts versus net revenue retention?
Anna: At Amplify Analytix, we understand that revenue retention is a continuous process, much like running on a treadmill. Maintaining even current revenue levels requires us to continuously deliver excellence and improve. Our business analysts also play the role of account managers and lead the effort of being a trusted advisor to our clients, which goes beyond just delivering smart solutions and upskilling. It involves a collaborative effort from our entire team to provide value and support to our stakeholders. On the other hand, growth is achieved by making headway with new clients and industries, which is the focus of our growth strategists, supported by our business analyst, data science and marketing teams.
Interviewer: How do you keep up with everything that’s going on in the company and the team?
We have a team of over 50 people, yet we are able to maintain a sense of cohesion and transparency within the company. Our flat organisational structure allows for clear communication and direct access to leadership, enabling a more efficient work process. Our leadership team has a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities, which facilitates a smooth flow of communication and decision-making. Additionally, our open-door policy encourages employees to share new ideas or raise any concerns with us. This allows us to have a deep understanding of the teams’ sentiments and needs and has been a successful approach for our company so far.
Interviewer: What kind of executive talent is required to succeed in this business, in your opinion?
Anna: At Amplify Analytix, we value team members who not only bring technical expertise to the table but also have a desire for growth and learning. We seek individuals who align with our culture of respect and trust and who have a mix of strengths and interests. In addition to having top-notch analytics and data science skills, it is important for team members to have the ability to collaborate with stakeholders to ensure the analytics are relevant and result in effective decision-making. Moreover, having team members who stay up to date on industry trends and are eager to continuously research and learn new things is crucial for our shared growth and success.
Interviewer: So, if you could go back in time, would you have done something different for the company?
Anna: Reflecting on the early days of the organisation, there are certainly some areas that could have been approached differently. One key lesson I’ve learned is the significance of hiring for leadership potential rather than just specific project needs. This perspective would have laid a stronger foundation for the company from the beginning. Although we have evolved and developed organically over time, having this emphasis from the outset would have been advantageous.
Interviewer: And do you have a motivational quote or a guiding prophecy?
Anna: I am generally quite a goal-oriented person. My guiding philosophy has always been – have we done everything we can or everything necessary to make the project or stakeholder successful? To make sure that projects are progressing as planned, we take all necessary steps to monitor progress and identify any areas that may require additional attention. I consistently ask myself if I have done everything possible to achieve the desired outcome, and if the answer is yes, I am satisfied knowing that I gave it my all. Rather than trying to control external factors that are beyond my influence, I focus on what I can take charge of and that empowers me. This mindset not only drives me forward but also optimises my efficiency and contributes to the achievements of the organisation and the contentment of those we serve.
Thank you, Anna, for taking the time and share these interesting facts about Amplify Analytix. We are looking forward to what the next 5 years will bring!