Clarity Solution Group

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March 3, 2014 Issue

The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information


Data Integration and Analytics Independent Consultancy

About Clarity Solution Group

Clarity is the largest independent US consultancy focused exclusively on data integration and analytics. Clarity helps companies drive superior business results through decision science, data integration and business intelligence disciplines. Clarity provides specialization, technical leadership and enablement that other companies do not, putting data to work to improve the bottom line.

Mike Lamble

Mike joined Clarity Solution Group in 2013 as a veteran leader in the field of big data analytics and enterprise information management. He brings an impressive track record of success leading data and analytics software and services firms including companies such as XtremeData, Greenplum, and Hewlett-Packard.


Prior to joining Clarity Solution Group, Mike was president of XtremeData, providers of massively scalable DBMS for big data where he focused on go-to-market execution overseeing sales, marketing, and product development. Previously, Mike was a practice leader in IBM’s Business Analytics and Optimization business unit. Mike has also served as Vice President of Worldwide Services for Greenplum. In addition, he held executive management positions with Knightsbridge Solutions, acquired by HP in 2007. While at HP, he led the Business Intelligence Services practice for North America.


Mike earned his MBA at the University of Chicago and has a BA in Economics from Columbia University.

“The appetite companies have to consume and use data is increasing, and the tools for keeping up with the data and doing superior integration analytics are in a Renaissance age. This is a perfect storm of opportunity for a services firm that can bring all of this together.” - Mike Lamble


Clarity Solution Group
150 South Wacker • Suite 2750

Chicago, IL 60606


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Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – March 3, 2014


CEOCFO: Mr. Lamble, what is the concept at Clarity Solution Group?

Mr. Lamble: We help companies put data to work to improve their businesses, specifically through data integration and analytics. If you look inside today’s modern enterprise, there are different departmental silos. Each has its own systems. To drive winning business results you have to get the data out of the silos, you need to put the right metrics in front of the right decision makers, and you need to use the right analysis methods. We are a systems integrator with the tools, techniques and people that know how to bring this data together, roll it up, clean it, analyze it, and present it in order to drive better business results.


CEOCFO: Do you find that many companies today understand the concept that they do not have everything they need in one place or is that still a little bit new?

Mr. Lamble: That concept is not new. It took shape in the 90s when it was coined “data warehousing”. What’s new is the exponential growth in the volume, variety, and velocity of data and the growing and nearly insatiable appetite to put data to work. More machine-readable data has been generated in the last eighteen months than the world had accumulated total prior to then. The number of data-driven information workers using analytical methods has grown from hundreds to tens of thousands.


CEOCFO: What is a typical engagement for you?

Mr. Lamble: A typical engagement starts with a client saying they know they have a data problem or opportunity, but they don’t know how to get their arms around it. In a first engagement we help a client create a roadmap that clarifies the end state goal and identifies a sequence of projects that will achieve the goal. Then we get to work on implementing the projects, usually over two to eight quarters.

CEOCFO: Many companies report to be in the same general arena as Clarity. What are some of the differences? What do you understand at Clarity that makes the experience better, cheaper, faster or more efficient, meaningful and helpful?

Mr. Lamble: Clarity is the largest independent service provider focused exclusively on this space. To our right are big multi-purpose systems integrators like Accenture, Deloitte, and IBM and to our left are offshore BPOs that like Infosys, Cognizant, and HCL. What differentiates Clarity is that we specialize solely in this discipline. The big companies on our right and left are always a little ambivalent about our niche because revenues aren’t as big as the “transformational” initiatives or the multi-year application management contracts. Revenues are plenty big enough for us. Our value proposition is to get things done right and quickly, the first time.


CEOCFO: When you are speaking with a prospective client, do they understand the difference? Is there an aha moment or are clients coming to you initially because they have that pre-understanding?

Mr. Lamble: Absolutely. The market has always had a place for boutiques, for specialists. If I said to you that Clarity wanted to be the best in the world at everything that IBM does, that would be ludicrous. However, our mission to be the best in the world at the one thing we do is a credible goal. Yes, I think prospective clients get that.


For the past couple of years, Clarity ranked one of the top ten best places to work in Illinois. This anonymous survey is something our employees take alongside hundreds of other companies. The ranking intrigues me because we don’t attempt to manage this in any way. I’m guessing that what appeals to Clarity consultants is the opportunity to do what they are passionate about in an environment of like-minded people. That is the special opportunity a boutique offers-- it gives people that enjoy their trade a place to go do it collaboratively and successfully.


CEOCFO: You took over as CEO less than a year ago. Why?

Mr. Lamble: The founders, Jim Urhausen and John Papagia, remarkably led the company through its early stage. I’ve known John for a long time. Continued growth beyond the early stage requires a different skill set, which led Jim and John to hire me last year. Jim and John built a company on core values that will always be our foundation.


CEOCFO: What has changed under your leadership?

Mr. Lamble: Interesting question. I worked with many of Clarity’s executives and consultants at a prior company so we all knew what we were getting. More than John and Jim, I think, I manage by the numbers, so we had to hone some processes to generate reliable numbers. Internal processes are a little more institutional, hopefully more scalable. I think that there’s more communication between the parts of our organization and probably a little more clarity of organizational boundaries. There is more focus on our financial foundation and a systematic focus creating a scalable organization. Perhaps most important is that there’s another oar in the water.


CEOCFO: The listing on the Inc. 5000 certainly verifies the fact that you are doing well.Why is Clarity a company to notice?

Mr. Lamble: We are in a great place at a great time. The amount of data generated is increasing exponentially. The appetite companies have to consume and use data is increasing, and the tools for keeping up with the data and doing superior integration analytics are in a Renaissance age. This is a perfect storm of opportunity for a services firm that can bring all of this together. There is more work to do than there are skilled practitioners to do it. As a professional services firm, this is the disequilibrium we thrive on.


CEOCFO: What is the key to the enthusiasm that you bring to the table?

Mr. Lamble: This enthusiasm is who we are. I think you will find it with most people you speak with at Clarity because passionate people like passionate people, and smart people like smart people. That’s our selection bias. In addition to seasoned pro’s, Clarity hires engineering graduates from top schools -- a class of five or six at a time. It’s not uncommon that one of the first year’s will ask me, “How do you make it to the position of CEO?” My answer is to do what you enjoy and are reasonably good at and stick to it. And listen, always listen. From the founders to the front line you will find the same desires, the same work ethic, and the same driving motivators.


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