The #measure Consulting Landscape

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I wrote a post last week called “Geeks Gone Wild” which received mixed reviews. The post was about the storylines and drama on the professional services side of the digital measurement community. I presented the landscape as a reality show and cast the players involved as characters in a Jersey Shore-like drama. It was comic relief – for me – on a Friday afternoon.

Although the delivery misfired, the topic is still blog-worthy. So this is my attempt at a do-over:

The services side of the web analytics community is fascinating to watch these days.

The market is being divided between a small handful of pure-play web analytics consultancies, agencies, vendor pro services groups and independent consultants.

Among pure-play analytics consultancies, we have:

Keystone Solutions: Certainly the fastest growing company in the space and after only 3 years in business they are probably also the largest. Keystone has hired a steady stream of rock stars and they continue to win big deal after big deal. They have been primarily known for highly complex, messy, cross-channel implementations and integrations, although they are growing aggressively into the optimization & testing space and social media measurement.

Stratigent: One of the earliest pure-play web analytics consultancies, Stratigent was run by Josh Manion for many years, but has been going strong under the guidance of Bill Bruno.

Semphonic: Hosts of the XChange web analytics conference. Semphonic has many of the community’s biggest names in their ranks, i.e. Greg Dowling, Gary Angel and Phil Kemelor. They seem to be stronger on the analysis / generation of insights end of the spectrum than implementation.

Cardinal Path: The result of the recent merger between PublicInsite, VKI Studios and Webshare. Cardinal Path now has #measure heavyweights Stephane Hamel, Alex Langshure and Justin Cutroni in their ranks. The company has a broader scope, including web design, development and marketing functions (in addition to digital measurement).

Web Analytics Demystified: With the addition of Adam Greco, Demystified is now a three-headed monster. They are viewed by most to be the top strategy consulting firm in the space. Their partnership with Keystone provides clients with a robust delivery arm. Demystifed continues to serve the #measure community through their Analysis Exchange (web analytics talent incubator) and Web Analytics Wednesdays.

Numeric Analytics: A spin-off from a staffing company, Numeric is still in business… which is more than you can say for a lot of consultancies over the past few years.

In addition to the pure-plays, The Big Boys have noticed the growth rates in digital measurement and have turned their attention in this direction.

Accenture has been hiring some good web analysts, but most of them are sitting on the bench, waiting for work to be sold.

IBM is a scary presence. With their resources and client base they could dominate the industry quickly. Yet, it seems impossible that an organization that big and slow could beat out their nimble, focused competition. It seems more likely that they will buy more of the space than win more. Just an FYI, IBM: We are for sale. Call me. We should do lunch.

Cognizant: The $24B services company with the majority of their delivery people in India, has been selling web analytics services to clients in the US. The division, headed up by Trinadha Khandi, has more of a focus on cost efficient outsourcing.

Over the past few years there have been literally dozens of digital measurement consulting start-ups. Most of the principals accepted full-time jobs as soon as their COBRA expired.

One company that has stuck it out and had consistent success is Empirical Path. The company, headed by Peter Howley and Jim Snyder, leverages its founders’ backgrounds in market research, BI and web analytics.

Some companies have dominated niches within the market. The Encima Group, for example, has been very interesting to watch. The company, headed by David Clunes, has become a driving force for digital measurement in the pharmaceutical space.

If you’re going to talk about services within the digital measurement space you have to discuss the agencies. The measurement practices within every major agency have grown considerably in the last couple of years, despite the inherent conflicts.

The reality is that analytics now drives a lot of revenue at the agency. As a result, agencies have forked over big dollars to land some of the best practitioners in the business and some of these teams are doing cutting edge work.

Plus, agencies like Digitas and Razorfish hire literally dozens of entry-level analysts every year and train them. We should all say thank you to Digitas. Nobody has done more to feed the web analytics talent ecosystem to date.

The Vendors are kind of in the consulting business and sort of not. If you are a software company you don’t want more than X% of your revenue to come from services or else you risk muddying your valuation.

Over the past year or two we have seen a shift at Omniture Consulting. They seem to have shifted their focus toward hiring more experienced analysts (training fewer kids). This is a loss for the community because it has always been a great breeding ground for talent, but I can understand the pressure to deliver for clients when you are charging $1,600/day. They seem to have a lot more virtual office workers, as well.

Regardless, the group has grown a lot in the last couple of years in a pointless attempt to keep up with demand.

The most interesting thing about services companies these days are the products that they are taking to market. Two of the hottest products on the market this year are spin-off’s from consultancies.

Ensighten, the tag management solution, has redefined and dominated their segment since Josh Manion moved to CA and separated the company from Stratigent. Now Stratigent’s competitors are quickly ramping up on Ensighten and competing with them for implementation and integration business.

Twitalyzer, Eric Peterson’s pet project from last year, is now one of the fastest growing social media measurement tools on the market. Twitalyzer has hundreds of paying subscribers globally.

On the events front, X Change is still the standard for web analytics vendor conferences, but they are no longer alone. Brooks Bell Interactive just hosted their 2nd Click conference for all of the different stakeholders around conversion optimization. We have not been invited, which is really not cool.

And the Keystone / Web Analytics Demystified partnership is planning a road show (no tour bus ☹) called Demystified Days. These will be relatively intimate 1-day events hosted by some of the top consultants in the business. Coming soon to your town.

Finally, our team has been talking about hosting a charity golf tournament for the digital measurement community. Anybody think that is a good or bad idea? Is anybody still reading at this point??

And then there are the contractors… Long term, short term, on site, off site, full-time, part-time… it’s nice to be able to rent a skill sometimes.

This is a long blog post. Geeks Gone Wild!!

Could probably do full posts in each of these categories. Hmmm. Geeks Gone Wild, The Sequels!

Please note that “Geeks Gone Wild” is a registered trademark of Matt Coen of Resource Interactive.

Disclaimer: The following companies are either clients or have been clients of IQ Workforce within the past 18-months: Keystone, Stratigent, Semphonic, Cardinal Path, Web Analytics Demystified, IBM, Cognizant, The Encima Group, Ensighten and Razorfish.

12 responses to “The #measure Consulting Landscape

  1. Thank you for the mention, Corry, there sure wasn’t this much competition when we started in ’02! If a character on Jersey Shore, Empirical Path would be the older, less boastful (possibly bald) guy asking the DJ to play more ’80s music.

  2. The golf tournament is a good idea, but I think a poker tournament would be better. Either way San Diego would be a great venue to host the full day event! You have listed a lot of consulting companies that are most visible, but sometimes amazing work cones from those that are most stealthy…..because they are too busy to market themselves. Sounds like a VS marketing plan, but is very common.

  3. Interesting take on Semphonic. I’ve always thought of them as primarily a technical shop (implementation, data warehousing, etc).

  4. Come have the golf tourney down in Phoenix! During the fall or winter of course. No need to melt everyone in the summer.

  5. Thanks Corry – We’ve seen many software landscape reviews, but the services industry is critical to everybody’s success in this field. This is a real asset for the community and I hope you’ll keep it updated (keeping us informed) as you see things change over time.

  6. I appreciate your characterization of IBM’s potential but let’s not forget that Coremetrics, an IBM Company, has an internal consultancy, Strategic Services, that’s been doing analysis for, workshops with or has been sub contracting their Consultants and Business Analysts out to some of the largest best known web properties on the Internet for years. Our clients include over 100 in the Internet Retailer top 500 and many in the top 100 and top 10. Then think about IBM’s other acquisitions that add arrows to our analytics quiver like Unica’s impressive Predictive Analytics module for statistical analysis and we will have both the programs and the minds behind SPSS and Cognos to work with. I’ll shut up now but I guess you can tell from my little rant that I am pretty pumped up about what were working on.

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