Nine Years Demystifying (Web) Analytics … a Look Back
Last week my inbox blew up all the sudden with email from LinkedIn with subjects like “congrats” and “well done, old man!” At first I assumed this was just more of the same SPAM I seem to get from that platform … but upon further inspection I realized that LinkedIn had told folks that it has been nine years since I quit my cushy job at Visual Sciences, threw caution to the wind, and founded (Web) Analytics Demystified!
It is positively mystifying to me how much the Demystifiers and I have accomplished in this relatively short amount of time. Seven Senior Partners with seven books between us, hundreds of marquee clients, thousands of blog posts helping to shape the industry, and millions of miles flown in an effort to help amazing individuals and organizations make the most from their investment in digital analytics and optimization. We have watched giants fall, competitors fold, and thought leaders simply stop thinking … while simply doing what we do best: demystifying analytics.
It’s not to say we haven’t transformed our business, far from it.
If you look back at my writing from nine years ago you can see that we have gone from being almost exclusively strategic to being a full-service shop. Engagements that start strategically with Adam and John quickly expand into tactics with Brian, Kevin, and Josh and ultimately insights with Tim and Michele. Clients are now able to leverage the experience of the Senior Partners on an ongoing basis, allowing the best in the industry to make their own people better.
What’s more, with the addition of Team Demystified we are more deeply embedded than ever and fully invested in our client’s success and able to deliver implementation support and insights on a truly full-time basis. This decision, in retrospect, may turn out to be one of the best I have ever made given that it has allowed Demystified to grow in a scalable and sustainable way, creating amazing opportunities for some of the best young talent in the analytics field. If you’re interested in learning more about joining Team Demystified or adding Team members to your analytics staff please email me directly.
Another change some of you may have noticed is that I personally don’t do any consulting anymore.
Two years ago I made the decision to take more of a behind-the-scenes management role, growing Team Demystified and making sure that the Senior Partners were given the support they needed to deliver client value commensurate with our reputation. At that point I established a single key performance indicator for the entire business and set everyone working towards it: client satisfaction.
No great surprise but this turns out to be the one KPI that matters in a consulting business.
Everything we have today is a direct result of going as far as necessary for each client … and then one step further. It has led to a lot of early mornings, late nights, and worked weekends, but at the end of the day we know that our business is only as good as our reputation. What’s more, since it is common knowledge that we are often the most expensive option in analytics consulting — increasingly by a factor of two to three as other shops seem to be in a race towards the bottom — the onus stays on us to do the job right the first time, every time, for every client.
That’s not to say we have kept every client we have ever taken on.
One of the big “ah ha” moments for me in the past two years has been that our KPI is also a function of the client being willing and able to be satisfied. We have had to essentially fire almost a half-dozen clients — and trust me, as a business owner this is painful — when we found them unwilling or unable to actually follow the advice we gave. That said we now have much better qualification filters for new clients in an effort to make sure that before we let them hire us for our transformation expertise … that they actually want (and are able) to be transformed.
Sigh. I guess web analytics is still hard …
Having started in the late ’90s at Webtrends I have personally watched this industry grow from almost nothing to the point where the best digital leaders wouldn’t even consider making a decision without analytics data to back them up. Together the Demystified Partners and I have watched the vendor landscape mature to the logical two-horse race we see today, and that has allowed us to focus our efforts to provide the best possible service. And at the end of the day I am grateful for the experience, my amazing Partners, our incredible Team members, and of course, our clients.