Interview with Matthew Gellis, Managing Director of Keystone Solutions

Matthew Gellis is the Founder and Managing Director of Keystone Solutions, probably the fastest-growing web analytics consultancy in the country. Keystone recently entered into a staffing partnership with IQ Workforce, in which our team will be the exclusive provider of digital measurement talent (both contract and full-time) for Keystone’s engagements.

1.    We may be biased, but it seems as though a professional services firm is largely as good as the talent within its ranks. Keystone has been very successful early-on attracting some of the top people in the digital measurement community, including alumni from top pro services firms, web analytics vendors, agencies and from the client side. How have you done that?

MATT: You are exactly right in saying that a services firm is as great as the talent within its ranks! That, coupled with the innovation it allows and provides for its clients is really what differentiates a fantastic experience from simply a good one. I think Keystone has been successful in attracting some absolutely world-class people for a variety of reasons.

First, the clients we work with. We are happy to work with any client on a range of issues – but we get really excited when working with some of the most complex tactical and operational issues in the industry on a massive scale. So getting in there and handling projects spanning dozens or hundreds of sites, multiple CMS solutions, multiple business units, disparate development teams, and various degrees of analytics maturity is what we love to do. That appeals to top-notch measurement folks and keeps it very interesting day-to-day.

We also encourage our teams to focus on creative and productive solutions to not only the complex issues but also in automating or eliminating the many time-sinks our clients deal with week after week. If we can create upstream process and automation to eliminate downstream inefficiency, that’s always a satisfying feeling.

Of course, cliché as it may sound, the vision of the organization has to be one that allows and encourages participation in all aspects of the measurement community, the continued focus on the interests of the Consultant, as well as the time spent with the client. Too much focus on any one of the three at the exclusion of the others creates imbalance.

2.    How do the career path and the overall employment experience at Keystone differ from some of your competitors?

MATT: At Keystone we have a lot of flexibility, given the variety of projects we work on, to allow people to experience and experiment with several roles.

That being said, we primarily have Consultants, Senior Consultants, and Principal Consultants with varied strengths and perspectives. All of us consult with our clients and leverage our expertise to develop distinctive solutions! However, within that structure, and as we grow, we also will have Directors, Sr. Directors, VPs, and Partners from a purely team lead / management standpoint as some of our folks run specific practices within Keystone.

So you may be both a Sr. Director and Principal Consultant, allowing growth in the area of consulting and developing solutions, but also in growing a practice and all of the requisite skills needed for that.

From a practice standpoint we focus on Technology Solutions and Community Solutions. Technology Solutions will traditionally encompass implementation, product development, data architecture, and custom solutions. Community Solutions focuses on some implementation but a much more statistical, testing, social, and education/analytical focus. It will also focus on the benefits not only for our customers but the community as a whole as we continue to mature as an industry.

3.    Many of our clients are handicapped because they only look for talent within a commutable distance of their office. Keystone seems to be very comfortable with virtual office / remote workers. How did that happen? Did your management team have experience with this prior to starting the firm?

MATT: Yes, most of the management team has worked remotely either in short or long-term bursts for a variety of companies. The nature of the true consultant is remote. Much of the work we do is with clients all over the country and we travel to-and-from their offices, spend time on the phone, etc. The caliber of people we have working with Keystone does not require a tightly enclosed environment to ensure everyone is on task. We have very driven, passionate, and capable employees and that combination ultimately allow for a degree of flexibility that the remote model supports. With the social media and communication tools at our disposal today we have people from Seattle to New York working with Keystone and it allows us to shrink the geographic limitations of yesterday on anything from product development to implementation projects.

4.    Keystone recently entered an “Exclusive Staffing Partnership” with IQ Workforce (thank you). Can you explain what the rationale was for this partnership? What are you hoping the partnership will accomplish for your firm and your clients?

MATT: Well, as per the answers above, we work with very large Enterprise clients solving some of the most complex issues they can throw at us. In that environment there are a couple of things I know: First, we need every Senior-level candidate in the industry. Second, I don’t have time to find every Senior-level candidate in the industry. 🙂

At the risk of making you blush, IQ Workforce has performed flawlessly in vetting the candidates, performing the right background checks, and has brought to the table the rare ability to understand the types of projects and clients we are working with (whether short or long-term) and matching those to the best candidates for those roles. For a company that really needs to field the best team possible, that’s an invaluable partnership!

5.    Web analytics has been evolving and has been pulled under BI in some companies or combined with Customer Analytics, Marketing Analytics, Digital Media Analytics, VOC, Research, Optimization & Testing, Advanced Analytics, etc. Assuming that this trend continues, will there be such a thing in the future as a pure “web analytics consultancy”? What is the likely range of services that Keystone will offer in three years?

MATT: Well – I don’t think there’s such a thing as a pure “web analytics consultancy” even now. If so then they are rapidly finding themselves on the outside looking in. Enterprises are shifting their focus to a more “community minded” perspective when looking at their audiences. The web data is, in almost all cases, a single window into the customer experience. There are many, many windows. Customers don’t want an isolated view of their consumers. They want a story that includes the myriad touch points and contacts they have with them. That will include Sales, Advertising, Marketing, Social, Web, VOC, Call-Center, Retention Analytics, and many other engagement channels. As we mature as an industry I think we have a unique opportunity to commit to being the touch point through which all these channels flow. Our services, products, and solutions will continue to reflect our mission to increase the integrity of the data and the ability to drive insights across every customer engagement opportunity our clients have with their key audiences.

6.    Keystone has had some really big client wins lately (congratulations). What’s the secret sauce? How are you beating out the competition?

MATT: I think it’s a combination of all of the answers above. We have a committed team with an exceptional depth of expertise in the analytics industry. I think it’s a good message when a large client sees that we have that depth from the vendor, agency, and customer side. We’ve worn all those hats. We’ve been employed directly on the vendor side of many of the products we support. We have worked for, and know the challenges and complexities of running, an analytics program for global Enterprises. That’s a comforting thing knowing that we aren’t going to be surprised. 🙂

7.    We have several clients that are off shoring components of their analytics ecosystem. How do you feel about off shoring in web analytics?

MATT: The digital industry is global. Many of these Enterprises are global. The skills required to move the ROI needle at these organizations is not limited to domestic talent. There are remarkable people all over the world that can truly make a difference for clients and for agencies. We are looking at many of these individuals as we continue to expand our client base overseas as well.

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