Investing in AlphaTECH: Our journey

  • Kevin Lester
  • Mar 01, 2019
Engineering

AlphaSights began its journey 10 years ago, leveraging human capital (i.e. smart people) to build the business that would later become a premier knowledge search provider. We trained our employees to listen to our clients, understand and dig into their needs, identify skills and expertise needed to answer their questions, and connect qualified experts with our clients to fill their knowledge gaps. This was originally a very manual process with very few technology enablers.

A lot has changed since those times; the company is now 600+ people strong, has offices in 9 different countries, and is investing heavily in our tech. We have technology enablers in nearly all aspects of our operations and we continue to build and scale as we branch into new geographies, knowledge areas, expert communities, and product offerings. AlphaSights has experienced explosive growth over the last 10 years that demands continuous evolution in key areas of our business.

This growth mindset drives AlphaTECH’s primary focus at the moment: scaling the business by automating and innovating key aspects of our company’s offerings. We’re charged with providing better and more creative ways to tap into the world’s knowledge repositories to make them available to our clients. Put simply, the tech team’s role is to enable faster, more reliable, and precise connections.

Key Objectives

The goals above translate to our day-to-day work by influencing the key performance indicators (KPIs) used to measure our progress and success. KPIs are critical to any organization’s strategic direction, and the well-known saying rings true: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t fix it”.  In our case, the KPI that drives our team is the time between a client’s intent for information and our successful delivery of it. That metric encompasses the entirety of the project lifecycle in servicing a client. We then break that time down into different project phases to discover solid insights into where and how to best direct our efforts. It’s worth noting however, that KPIs love company and it’s generally a good idea to pair KPIs with their opposite counterparts to ensure a single KPI doesn’t lead you astray. In our case, we pair our time-minimization KPI with a quality KPI to ensure that we aren’t compromising quality as we make the process more efficient.

With our KPIs clear, we have a vehicle in place to identify and quantify the challenge areas that the tech team needs to solve. Our challenges generally fall into two main buckets: workflow efficiency and external research. Workflow efficiency relates to all the factors that appear as an organization grows and refines their offerings. For example, slow pages, missing features, awkward UIs, internalization challenges, multi-data center needs, cost optimization, scaling new products, etc. If a system defined last year is not evolving at least as quickly as the business, we begin to accrue an efficiency penalty for the delta, and that penalty compounds continually as the business grows. A healthy organization should have a dedicated focus to ensuring that penalty is minimized (or zero), and we are no exception to that rule.

The second bucket, external research, is the more challenging of the two.  It refers to the complex processes used by Client Service associates to translate a client intent into the core competencies needed by an advisor in order to service their needs. The research process is our greatest opportunity for improvement, as it accounts for the majority of time between a client’s request for information and the delivery of knowledge. Gaining a deeper understanding of a client’s problem space so we can identify the right advisors to speak with clients is no small task, but luckily we’re up to the challenge.  We have already started to find various ways in which we can leverage our own data, as well as information culled from the internet, to drastically reduce the time our Client Services team needs to identify the right experts. Our objectives require us to better understand our own clients, data, and industries, enabling us to create the building blocks to leverage more complex projects and insights. As we look to the future, we’re excited by the knowledge we can unlock and make available to our clients.

A graph showing a sampling of our advisor communities built with unsupervised learning. Helps us understand the skills and expertise of our advisors, as well as how they interact and relate to each other. 

 

Sound interesting? It is! We’re still early in our journey and building the foundations to be successful. However we’ve made big strides, investing in our technology and talent. We brought in an entire new leadership team with deep expertise and experience at top companies such as Amazon and Google to help evolve our technology. We’re switching our languages, changing our infrastructure, redrawing our roadmap, challenging assumptions, and growing our team! It’s an exciting time for AlphaTech, and we’re looking for people who are equally as excited to join us on our journey. For more information on how you can join our team visit https://bit.ly/2Un7lur


Kevin Lester joined AlphaSights in February of 2018 and serves as Vice President of our Software Engineering team.