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Outsourcing analytics – is it right for you?

As companies continue on the analytics journey, many are asking themselves would they outsource to an agency, or hire in-house resources. And if they outsource, what should they outsource. Morgan Vawter, from Piston Agency, recently shared her thoughts on the subject in a great article.

As a region we have a resource shortage, especially within the analytics field. It’s very hard to find good all round resources. We quite often hear of companies staffing the role with people from their BI teams – but they very quickly find out it’s a completely different skill set. The other way we often see this staffed is by individuals with more specific backgrounds, coming from SEO or SEM companies – but again the role they have to fulfil is so different to what they’re used to. And, interestingly, Universities don’t even have courses on digital analytics, despite it being one of the fastest growing corporate requirements (but don’t get me started about that).

This very interesting article by Morgan Vawter at Piston Agency recently did the rounds in the db office. Her article gives a great overview of the factors at play for companies when they’re considering using analytics agencies or developing in-house resources. As an analyst, the article really resonated with me.

One of the things she talks about is resource availability, a constraint very much present within APAC. We’re constantly on the lookout for good people, but they’re like gold-dust. We’ll look on LinkedIn, place ads on job sites, use our networks etc, but the talent pool is like a Simpson Desert watering hole in the middle of summer – and we know exactly the type of personality traits they have to exhibit to be great in this role.  So as a corporate, trying to find the right person to fill a new role in an area where you have limited experience has got to be daunting, not to say hit and miss.

Individuals well suited to this role have an optimal mix of mathematics, statistics, marketing, business sense, and strong communication skills. They are truly rare.

I think the most valuable role of the agency or consultant is to provide thought-leadership and help the developing team to achieve their goals within the organisation. This comes about in a variety of ways, from providing them with measurement strategies, implementation support, reporting and insights, team or individual mentoring etc.

As companies go on this journey their needs will naturally change over time. Most importantly we – as “agencies” – need to be able to support those varying needs on a spectrum from complete outsourcing through to in-sourcing and team development.

At digital balance we’re seeing the resourcing model blend as the market continues to mature. We have clients that use us for reporting and insights, others for a range of implementation services, some for thought leadership in the space, and then there are those that outsource their entire analytics to us.

Morgan goes on to say;

‘Excellence in analytics comes from continual work and integrating that work into the very fiber of a company. Analytics touches everything. It needs an evangelist within the company to align analytics strategy with business objectives, drive execution, educate internal stakeholders, and report to management.’

Whole-heartedly agree. A combination of both in-house and outsourced services is what seems to work best to gain traction internally and quickly drive forward knowledge, buy-in, and return on investment.

The content and advice contained in this post may be out of date. Last updated on February 5, 2014.

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