Every company is rapidly adopting software systems, plus data management and analytics practices, in an effort to fully compete and win in their respective domains.
But the pitch and dream of “Software as a Service” (aka SaaS) and self-service software systems are long dead.
So, what do companies do to prevent overlaps, conflicts, wasteful spending and potentially enormous operational inefficiencies across their systems and data strategies and investments?
Help will always be needed to achieve the greatest possible potential from new and existing business software systems and the vast volume of data they collect.
And good news! Help is available from countless service providers and partners. They’re everywhere, and they’re nowhere, or worse. The good ones are extremely difficult to find, and the rest are too much strategy/too little execution, too slow to lift any business performance metrics, and they’re difficult to assess on a value-for-money basis (before and after invoices are paid).
So, which problems are most worth solving here?
Information Asymmetry Is A Great Place To Start.
Conceptually, business and functional group leaders who are charged with, or who are outright driving, the advancement of customer data collection for website, app and marketing personalization, for example, “get it”.
They broadly know that people, tools and processes in the organization need a little or a lot of change to get to the end goal of quarter-on-quarter or year-on-year revenue lifts (or whatever the business metric of importance is).
Skills need upgrading. Decision-making bottlenecks (i.e. governance & compliance layers) need to removed. Technology vendor contracts need to be renegotiated. Marketing investments need to be slashed, reallocated or expanded. New ways of thinking are necessary. New tools should be adopted. And there’s the data, more of that will be good, too.
According to the United States Census Bureau, 98% of all businesses, or around 19 million enterprises, have under 100 employees.
89% of all US business employ under 20 people.
And 62% employ 4 or less.
In the UK, according to the House of Commons Library (PDF), there were 5.7 million private sector businesses, 96% of which employ less than 10 people each.
Around 99% of businesses in the UK employ under 50 people.
Across each of these groups, the person or the people leading “customer data collection” for anything, let alone a personalization strategy, are probably also doing a lot of other things, too. Things like sales, customer service, account management, accounting, expenses, RFIs/RFPs, you name it.
But the systems and data work in a large percentage of these businesses needs to get done to build and maintain a competitive edge. To survive and thrive.
It’s table stakes. Someone needs to lead, but someone needs to execute.
Go Whole Hog Or Go Home.
The UK and US economies are especially notable for their highly liquid, free market dynamics. For example, it’s [relatively] easy and low cost to get a business started, and it’s [relatively] easy to hire and fire.
The scale of the US market is especially exceptional for its potential to enable the capture of outsized value and wealth from business models that can scale into substantive slices of market share.
But the growth and success of any business isn’t generally the product of a “whole hog” go-to-market strategy, right? Success comes from 100s and 1,000s of iterations, tweaks, changes and improvements. Baby steps.
And this is how systems and data investments, from strategy to execution can and should be done in most of today’s enterprises.
Start small. Get specific things done. And build from there.
Let's take *Intercom, the San Francisco-based technology company as an example. Intercom is probably most known for its customer messaging “chat” facility. Like so many of its peers and competitors, it has developed an extremely valuable, not to mention data hungry, toolset which is growing and improving noticeably every month, if not every week.
*We use Intercom across the MeasureMatch website and marketplace platform, primarily for customer service and support.
So, Intercom recently released what I think is a powerful new product called "Product Tours. Product Tours is for those businesses that need small, quick, easily done, but important ways to communicate with customers across specific touchpoints, to provide guidance, reminders, to answer questions before they’re asked.
*We’re looking forward to deploying Product Tours in the coming 30 days (and we’ll likely use our own platform, eat our own dog food, to find and book a consultant to help us to get it done).
Intercom’s Product Tours is a great example of a singular, focused thing for any business with a quickly evolving browser or app-based customer experience to adopt and deploy as part of it’s systems and data advancement strategy. Or, perhaps more precisely, its customer service strategy, part might happen to flow through a kind of middleware solution called Intercom.
But, how do we find and pick capable Intercom Product Tours specialists? How do we pick someone who can help to define where the integrations should happen, maybe even write some of the messaging, et cetera?
At Last, Here's The Point About Information Asymmetry
The central power and value of a marketplace for customers, certainly web-based services marketplaces, if *built well, is in the information and decision tools provided to both buyers and sellers.
*Our time horizon to get the MeasureMatch professional services marketplace properly humming is 5-10 [more] years. Yes, we have that much more to build, refine, adjust, tear down and build from scratch.
The information presented via word-of-mouth, face-to-face or email-to-email routes during the sourcing and selecting of service providers is invariably limited, lopsided or lousy, giving one side a significant advantage over the other.
Depending on the side you sit, this could be a good thing. Don't be fooled.
In the grand scheme of things, this imbalance of information, over time, destroys value, or prevents its emergence altogether.
Pricing can and will inflate artificially in a transactional environment where the balance of information is skewed to one side, the knock-on effects of which can be include devastating litigation, the collapse of markets and more.
The rise and rise of web-based services marketplaces presents buyers of services not only with a set of increasingly accurately presented service provider profile recommendations, but also star ratings, availability, written reviews, location/distance information, case studies, audio and/or video intros and, as we do in the MeasureMatch marketplace, examples of specific services on offer, certifications, technology vendor relationships, types and/or levels of insurance and more.
On the supply side, service providers are presented with a detailed view of each prospective client’s business (*depending on a number of factors), including HQ location, website address, number employees, industry sector, market capitalization, stock price, fundraising status, a technographic breakdown of systems in use, a systems/data maturity score, and much more.
* Some clients choose to enter the marketplace discreetly i.e. the name of the business is not disclosed until after the client invites service providers into discovery, scoping, pricing and proposal conversations.
We're nowhere close to ahieving a perfect information model like in the game of chess, but the balance of information between buyers and sellers participating in online services marketplaces, and certainly in MeasureMatch's professional services marketplace platform, is clearly far more valuable, and will prove to be vastly more productive, than traditional, 20th century business-to-business frameworks.
And so, the MeasureMatch professional services marketplace is where business leaders go to find exceptionally capable independent consultants, consultancies, agencies and systems integrators to get important software systems and data work done faster than ever before.
But it starts with good information. Good quality data, presented in a way that provides clarity, guidance, trust and added value.
MeasureMatch is the platformization and personalization of enterprise systems and data professional services. We're currently focused on advancing marketing, commerce, customer experience and related analytics business outcomes.
Our mission is to empower every organization globally to execute with unbelievable agility.
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