Avanade Success Story

How Avanade Leverages CB Insights to Explore New Opportunities

Cristy Stone

Research Lead, Emerging Technologies, Avanade

Jamal Pope

Ventures Lead, Emerging Technologies, Avanade

Key Results:

  • More efficient and effective research process to vet more startups at a faster rate
  • Ability to see the high-level impact of emerging tech, and drill down into specific subsectors

Not every business problem can be solved with surface-level insights. Often, the path forward stems from a partnership between multiple minds, talents, and technologies, bringing everything together into a comprehensive ecosystem.

Avanade is the leading provider of innovative digital, cloud and advisory services, industry solutions and design-led experiences across the Microsoft ecosystem. Every day, our 58,000 professionals in 26 countries make a genuine human impact for our clients, their employees and their customers. Avanade was founded in 2000 as a joint venture by Accenture LLP and Microsoft Corporation.
Our Emerging Technologies team uses applied research, experimentation, and collaboration, to empower our clients to make smart bets and achieve step changes in competitive advantage.
We are Cristy Stone and Jamal Pope, members of the Avanade Emerging Technologies team. While each of us holds a unique role at Avanade, the work we accomplish together is driving the company toward an empowered, high functioning emerging technology vision.

Discovering CB Insights

Cristy: I’m the Research Lead for the Emerging Technologies team. I spend most of my time exploring a future perspective of emerging technologies. While Jamal manages trends in the startup community, I get to the heart of what new technologies exist for Avanade and our clients, and how they might manifest now and in the near future.
A member of my team introduced me to CB Insights through a report they shared. I was intrigued by the details in the report, and eventually explored the free trial. I found CB Insights to be insightful; while other research firms create narrow perspectives to position their research, CB Insights supplies information that is objective and informative rather than tailored to a certain agenda or brand.

Now that I have the full weight of the platform at my disposal, I primarily use CB Insights for two purposes. The first is a general scan of a business or industry. When I get summary emails related to specific queries, I’ll evaluate them alongside themes and additional research.

The second use is for specific technology topics. For example, I recently used CB Insights to explore the field of decentralized digital identity. Many emerging technologies use different angles of interconnected technology to build a successful enterprise. I use CB Insights to sort through these variations at scale, identifying differences between startups within the same scope or field. For instance, I may categorize startups utilizing blockchain against those relying on digital wallets or digital identities. I often break this information down even further as a part of a specific Collection.

As a visual thinker, I really appreciate being able to plug information into a Market Map. This is the stage where I get a better sense for investment trends over the last few years and look more deeply into the details of each business. By creating a Collection and adding additional notes, I can sort through investment data over time to identify trends or potentiality. In my role, tracking this pattern of behavior over time is critical for identifying valuable marketplace opportunities. With CB Insights, this is incredibly easy to accomplish.

I love the value of seeing trends over time, and having all this disparate information pulled together. It’s the patents, investments, business relationships, in addition to the information on the technology vendor, that helps me see the bigger picture.

I may track investment relationships and create topic-based Collections that detail who is investing in what, and for how long. Not only can I use these figures to better understand how a startup is performing, but also what larger players in the market consider opportunity within different fields. I can explore research on my own, create my own Collections, or build on existing Collections with the highest quality data possible.
Given that I need to evaluate factors that are behavioral rather than aspirational, using data to tease out the differences between truth and fiction, CB Insights’ Patent Search is another favorite feature. It allows me to reevaluate companies that caught my attention in the past, enabling me to effortlessly track changes and updates. I get access to earnings reports, which feeds directly into the insights creation process. 

Vetting New Startups

Jamal: Unlike Cristy, CB Insights was already a part of the tech stack by the time I joined the team. I used a competitor in the past, but immediately found that it underperformed CB Insights from a research perspective. A database that contains all technology vendors, their stats, and snapshot summaries is critical to what I do. Without CB Insights, it would be very difficult to do my job effectively or at scale.
I had the opportunity to explore CB Insights as I grew into my role, which is to identify viable startups to bring into the Avanade ecosystem in order to solve client’s current business challenges and accelerate transformation. I began to vet several different use cases, mostly surrounding new technology vendors and understanding a company, its goals, and its background.

Outside of this, I largely use CB Insights to determine where technology vendors stand in a given space. I want to understand how they are viewed, the technological power they wield, and how efficient they are at growth or expansion. I may choose to do an advanced search or look at a Market Map to determine efficacy in a specific location. This is particularly important as Avanade focuses on newer or less defined areas of the market.

The metaverse is a great example of this. As a nascent field, CB Insights is critical for helping me understand how individual technologies are categorized, where technology vendors fit into individual portions of the metaverse, and what their predictive growth may be. I prefer to evaluate their digital identity alongside their type of marketplace platform, both of which provide greater insight into the state of the industry.

Individual searches provide even greater value in the future. After I search for a company, CB Insights provides an additional data set surrounding related companies or competitors. This benefits me in two ways. Firstly, I can look closer at a specific space within minutes and secondly, receiving a full list of competitors means I don’t have to pinpoint individual connections on my own.

I also turn to CB Insights for industry news. Users can set up their homepage by one or more industries of interest, although remaining industry agnostic is also a possibility. I also get great value from the State Of The industry reports, where I learn about different spaces that may be open to growth or get an update of where things are positioned and how they are performing. Avanade is on the forefront of helping clients lead in their industry, whether that’s through established industry best practices or lessons learned through new or cross-industry trends.

Another feature I’m starting to explore is Connect. If I come across a technology vendor and I don’t have a relationship with the vested VCs, I no longer need to reach out through LinkedIn or cold email. Instead, I can initiate contact right through CB Insights.

Cold contacting companies often leads to no response, but by using the Connect feature, I was able to meet with a new company within a week. I look forward to using the feature again in the future.

CB Insights is one of several key technology platforms that allows Avanade to be proactive on industry and technology trends. Without it, the gaps in our knowledge would impact our ability to understand the market holistically. It would be much more difficult to monitor the flow of capital within the startup market, and to a certain extent, rely on the validity in market insights that are difficult to come by in pure reporting.  As Avanade continues to deliver more client value by harnessing new and different areas of technology, success will be defined and redefined by the data we use. Volume and quantity have its place, but carefully vetted startups from a variety of source points will become more and more integral to progress.

With CB Insights, we have the potential to explore new industries and investor insights with confidence, trusting in the validity and certitude of all supplied data. We know we have the tools necessary to prepare for any possible future.

Cristy Stone

Research Lead, Emerging Technologies, Avanade

Cristy leads research for the Emerging Technologies team at Avanade, with an emphasis on people systems and how they interact with technology. She focuses on several areas of new technology including immersive experiences and conversational AI which she explores through a mixed-methods approach leveraging human factors research, innovation tools and processes, and strategic foresight.

Jamal Pope

Ventures Lead, Emerging Technologies, Avanade

Jamal is the Ventures Lead on the Emerging Technologies team at Avanade. In this role, he works on creating partnerships between startup companies and Avanade’s clients. Prior to joining Avanade, Jamal worked at AT&T. He was the Outreach Innovation Manager on the AT&T Ecosystem & Innovation Outreach team – a three-person team that essentially was the official front door for bringing in new technology into the company.

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