We often are introduced to stakeholders at organizations that are deciding between working directly with an enterprise analytics vendor (Google or Adobe usually) to handle their implementation or consulting needs. Or maybe they’ve been working directly with the vendor and are wondering if continuing that relationship is the best option for them as they attempt to take their analytics program to a higher level. I thought it’d be good to outline what we see as the core benefits of working with a partner like 6D for implementation and consulting needs, versus working solely with your digital analytics vendor’s services team.
If you aren’t aware already, 6D is a Google Analytics Premium Reseller, and Adobe Business Partner Plus, and we have partnerships with a number of other analytics and tag management vendors. Our relationships with those partners are tight, and we understand the in-house talent that they staff for technical and business consulting around their products. The expertise that a vendor is going to bring to the table, with their specific platform, and its capabilities, is generally on par with what you’ll find from a partner. Often partners claim to have equal or more expertise than vendors – and that isn’t actually the case. But in some cases, which I’ll outline below, partners bring, let’s say “additional” expertise to the table.
Utilizing a partner stand-alone, or at least combining partner consulting with the vendor consultants, is optimal.
We find that utilizing vendors for implementation and support works well for organizations that have extremely advanced analytics teams – they include personnel that have led advanced analytics programs on the partner side at some point. In these cases, the expertise that a partner is going to bring, is essentially already in-house. Sometimes that in-house expertise is a little rusty on how platforms are being hacked for innovative reasons, but good personnel will be up on the latest and greatest. On the other side of the spectrum, vendors also are good at getting clients up-and-running in a most-basic way for organizations who are in the “crawl” phase with analytics. But for many organizations between those two stages of maturity, working only with a vendor can be limiting. Having partner expertise can help extend the value in data. More bluntly stated: partners access more ways to increase ROI. One key way this is done is through integrations with other data sources and platforms.
Integrations are where vendor consulting often has to put walls up. Your Google team isn’t going to jump into your Eloqua implementation to push and pull data between Eloqua and Google Analytics. Your Adobe consultants aren’t going to log into ExactTarget and put code into your email templates to integrate open data into Adobe Analytics. For obvious reasons vendors are limited in what they can handle with 3rd party platforms. These days, the greatest opportunities to learn about and optimize user experience (remember: to get a better ROI), are by mashing data sources together in meaningful ways. If your vendor can’t help you with that, you may be depending on your in-house resources, which likely have very limited experiences with the intricacies of both platforms. More importantly, they have a limited sample-size of experience working to seize business opportunities (or solve business problems) with those platforms.
Partners often bring extensive experience with similar organizations, and “cross-training” type experience from working across verticals.
This allows them to pull from a much larger tool chest, and get creative with your integration points. Keep in mind, when we talk about integration, we’re almost always working towards ways to do advanced regression and correlative analysis. While the means here are “high-level technical” the ends are detailed analytical findings.
While integration of data within platforms is key, there are many other ways partners bring additional value. Here is another: hacking the platform versus waiting for a feature. Inevitably analytics platforms are a step behind the ways more advanced users needs. More advanced users are what drive many of the feature and capability requests of enterprise platforms. But in the time period of 6-months to years (I’m looking at you Google Analytics ecommerce) that you are waiting for a new advanced feature to roll out, you often “hack” a way to get the data or analysis you’re hungry for. Often, because it is on the edge, the findings from this create a competitive advantage, new revenue opportunities, or some kind of other business advantage. So it is worth it to hack it out, and also why you beg the vendor to add the feature. Vendors services teams are generally reluctant to perform these hacks, because they may have more rigid best-practices or the hacks involve 3rd party tools or apps. A partner not only can be more experimental and open to using other tools – but also has often done something similar (or identical) already.
In an effort to keep this short, I’ll just provide one more example of how partners can extend the value of data: extracting and analyzing web analytics data in a different context. In this I mean, getting that data out of the analytics platform, into your data warehouse or sandbox, mashing it up with your other valuable data sources, and generating findings that multiply the value of the sources. Who handles each piece of this (your in-house analysts and personnel or the partners) varies based on many factors – but when all these steps are executed, really valuable findings begin to get generated. Partner expertise can help the most with closing the feedback loop; what data do we want to collect or enhance on the front-end, that will help generate better findings deep on the back-end?
To reiterate: vendors bring a level of expertise about their product to the table that is deep. Partners bring expertise to the table that extends beyond the platform, and as a result extends the value that can be generated. Again, this means a higher ROI on the efforts around the platform. This isn’t a point most vendors would argue with – and that’s why they put effort and investment into there partner programs. If you’ve implemented, or are going to implement, an enterprise analytics platform and you are solely utilizing in-house and vendor personnel – it behooves you to at least have a conversation with an advanced partner about what additional value you may be able to generate.