Reinventing data consulting: Calybre’s next-generation approach

March 6, 2024

In a world where data reigns supreme, the need for excellent skills and expertise to harness its power has never been more critical. Enter Calybre, a next-generation consulting company that is reshaping the data space with innovation and a fresh perspective.

Calybre’s journey began just over a year ago with a clear mission in mind: to revolutionise data consulting by focusing entirely on the breadth of the data domain. Understanding that this is a scarce skills market, Alexa Bisschops – along with her partners Grant van der Wal and Ryan Jamieson – saw an opportunity to create a business that not only addressed this gap but also aligned with their passion for data and technology consulting.

Challenging the status quo

They recognised that the world is evolving, and wanted Calybre to evolve with it as a next-generation company. Reflecting on their experiences in traditional consulting, they identified areas where improvement was needed. Often the frustrations they encountered internally ended up affecting their clients, and they saw this as an opportunity to address these challenges directly.

“While it’s challenging to think differently, it can also be exciting to bring something new to the market. Either way, we are committed to tackling these issues head-on with Calybre,” said Bisschops.

What distinguishes Calybre as a next-generation consulting company? For Bisschops, it’s all about embracing change and challenging the status quo. Drawing from their collective experience in traditional consulting, the founders identified pain points and sought innovative solutions to address them.

Maintaining a robust bench

Speaking of one of the primary challenges many consulting companies face, she said there’s often a reluctance within the industry to have a surplus of staff readily available, colloquially referred to as “the bench”. When discussing this, people often inquire about the size of Calybre’s bench, expressing surprise or concern. “The distinction with us is that we prioritise maintaining a robust bench, and in fact we aim to expand it further,” she said.

“Reflecting on my experience in resource allocation, I’ve encountered situations where we’ve entered into a sales agreement, outlining the scope of work, only to realise that we lacked the necessary talent readily available to deliver exceptional results to our clients. This dilemma is common in the consulting sector, where firms may not have a surplus of skilled individuals waiting in the wings. At Calybre, we’ve made a deliberate effort to invest in our team, dedicating the past year to bolstering our talent pool. Currently, we have a diverse team of 50 data consultants, each with their own unique background, experience and skill set.”

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When a client engages with Calybre, they are offered a choice – a selection of consultants who align closely with their requirements. This choice encompasses factors such as background, experience, skill set, location (given our remote work model) and cultural fit. By offering this level of customisation, Calybre empowers clients to assemble a team that best suits their needs and preferences, Bisschops said.

The lifeblood of businesses

Another key differentiator of Calybre lies in its people-centric approach. Instead of treating consultants as mere resources, Calybre invests in their continual learning and development, ensuring they stay ahead of the curve in an ever-evolving industry. This commitment to high-quality consulting skills development enables Calybre to offer a diverse range of expertise, from data engineering and analytics to data governance and security. Not only that, it currently have more than 320 certifications.

But why the exclusive focus on the data space? According to Bisschops, data is not just the present but also the future. With advancements in technology, and particularly AI, data has become the lifeblood of businesses across industries. Calybre sees itself at the forefront of this transformation, empowering companies to leverage their data assets for strategic decision-making and innovation.

No rigid constraints

When it comes to measuring return on investment, Calybre takes a strategic approach, focusing on long-term partnerships rather than short-term gains. By exceeding client expectations and delivering tangible results, Calybre builds trust and credibility, paving the way for enduring relationships.

She said that in traditional consulting, engagements often begin with a predefined investment. Clients specify the scope of work and budget available for the project.

“However, at Calybre we’ve reconsidered this approach. We see it as limiting to come in with such rigid constraints from the outset. Instead, we strive to challenge our clients to expect more from us. We believe in setting a baseline for return on investment, ensuring that our services meet or exceed industry standards. However, we aim to surpass these expectations by pushing ourselves technically and intellectually. By encouraging clients to raise the bar and push boundaries, we foster a culture of continuous improvement and innovation.

“Ultimately, we believe that trust is built on the assurance that clients will see a tangible return on their investment. By delivering exceptional value and constantly striving for excellence, we aim to partner with our clients, ensuring that they maximise the benefits from the money they spend with us.”

Driving meaningful outcomes

Calybre’s ambitious aim is to have its consultants cover the breadth of the data domain. With this in mind, the company is technology and platform agnostic.

“We categorise tools into types and ensure that we focus on adding skills to our team’s arsenal based on current global trends and customers’ needs. A customer should be able to come to us for any data-related work. Irrespective of whether a customer has chosen Microsoft, Google or Amazon as their platform, we can help them. If they need Databricks, Python, SQL or Snowflake – or specific data skills related to their own solutions – we will build them if we don’t already have them.”

Investment by the “hyperscalers” in cloud and their focus on enabling data insights, has allowed companies to solve data challenges at scale. Calybre plays a vital role in helping companies realise their data aspirations.

In addition, Bisschops said that although Calybre does not align with any specific industry, it realises that this can be a stumbling block when a consultant starts to work with a customer in an unfamiliar industry for the first time.

TCS+ | Calybre: a new-age consultancy for ‘data people’

“We have built out readiness models and frameworks to support our consultants in understanding any industry, to provide them with a point of reference from where to start when engaging with customers. This in no way detracts from the need to work closely with our customers in co-creating relevant business solutions, but it does mean that the consultant can land with confidence and be equipped to ask relevant questions from day one.”

She said Calybre has done the same thing from a business function perspective – building frameworks to support its consultants landing in information areas such as the office of finance, human resources, sales and marketing, and more. “These functions occur in any industry, so our consultants are prepared for any business function within any industry.”

Walking the journey

“Calybre’s approach to data consulting goes beyond just a business deal. It’s a journey we take with our customers. We face challenges together, building a bond based on trust and understanding. But it’s not just about working together; it’s about integrating our consultants with their teams. This makes our services even better and encourages creativity to flourish. Together, we set out on a journey where success is just one part of the story. What really matters is the partnership we create, shaping the future of how data can help businesses grow,” she said.

This article was originally published on Tech Central on 6 March 2024

Alexa Bisschops was on TCS+, listen here

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