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At a recent customer in London our keynote speaker Eric Peterson spoke about the importance of ‘people, process and technology’ when it comes to web analytics and optimisation.
It’s a sentiment that I completely agree with, which might be surprising considering that I work in the technology sector! However, time and time again we hear stories about companies that purchase expensive and complicated technology, only for it to sit in a corner unused (or with limited success), either because there aren’t the skills internally to use it effectively or that there isn’t an obvious need for it or the need hasn’t been clearly defined.
It’s why for any company that is thinking about web optimisation, it is critical to put in place a three part strategy that sees significant and equal investment in people, process and technology to achieve the very best results.
I’ll start with process as this is the foundation element on which the other two sit. Putting in place the right process depends very much on the problem you are trying to solve or the outcome you are trying to achieve.
For many of the companies I work with, the number one objective is to get better insights into how customers are using a website – why they are successful, or more pertinent, why they may not be. But actually getting these insights is just a step in a much longer process.
Digital marketers and e-commerce professionals deal with an enormous amount of data, but putting it to use and making it actionable is often really tricky without the right process in place.
It’s very easy to get seduced by a flashy piece of technology. But how will it fit into the process you’ve developed? Does it fit your needs? Do you have the skilled people to use it to its full potential or do you need to invest here too?
For web marketers, technology is absolutely vital, but choosing the right tool for the job is very important too. And with so many free tools out there that are actually very powerful (take Google Analytics for example), you need to invest in technology that really is worth paying for.
One of the great sound bites that technology companies use is that ‘our technology is so easy to use’! The brochures and the websites try to suggest that all you need to do is plug it in and all your problems will be immediately resolved.
In fact, when you break it down, most website optimisation tools are really just being used to generate reports. While there are typically successes that can come “organically”, the big, ongoing “wins” come through having people who can truly do analysis of why things are good or bad, not simply generate a report that tells you what is happening.
Technology has totally revolutionised the way we do business and when used properly can have wide ranging business benefits. But I’m a firm believer that the companies that get the best out of technology are the ones that have the right people using it on a day to day basis.
Investing in people allows you to put in place processes that achieve results and actually see some benefit from your technology investment. We have a number of talented Tealeaf power users in companies around the world and they are the ones that are really getting the most spectacular results because they are highly skilled in the areas in which they work. So next time you budget for a new technology implementation, make sure you budget for personnel at the same time.
The perfect triumvirate?
Of course, not one of these components is enough on its own. Web optimisation is an incredibly data driven activity and collecting and analysing vast amounts of data requires complex technology that can save time and money.
But analytics then needs conclusions and recommendations and, despite the growth of algorithmic predictions, human input will always play a vital role. The onus is on us technology companies and our users/partners to help equip these people to be successful in these very new disciplines.
It’s only by balancing people, process and technology in the right way that companies will get the most out of their websites and deliver meaningful business results.