January 23, 2014 Robert Woodford

Look for the value of work done, not the analytics.

Relying too heavily on outdated analytics software could damage your business performance. My “bloggers with bite” article for Recruiter Magazine.

Over the years I’ve witnessed the increasing reliance on analytic software; in fact I’ve worked with many of them.  They certainly have their place.  But here is the issue I have with them as a marketer; they have the potential to damage a business and wreak havoc on branding.

The problem with the analytics software is that it only plugs into the database.  The metrics that are recorded are therefore the “traditional” ones; phone times being a great example.  Flashed up onto screens around the offices and with handy graphics, they show whose been talking the most and conversely who has been unproductively sat on their backside – but do they? What they don’t do, and I believe is a fundamental flaw, is plug into the entire and ever expanding toolbox available to a consultant.

What some businesses consequently end up doing is encouraging behaviour that’s not actually constructive because of the software.  Take the consultant who’s engaging with an online community that they’ve developed in a niche area; the consultant who creates a blog post; the resourcer spending time engaging on twitter or Linkedin.  Their interactions may reach hundreds of people, be of premium quality and establish relationships based on shared knowledge. Yet they will be compared negatively against the person who has sat making 15 pointless cold calls and got nowhere.  Why? because the analytics do not show the value of the work done.

Of course the argument will be that if they are billing then it doesn’t matter if the analytics say they’re doing nothing because they’ll be hitting target.  But the issue is that in having this software installed, companies are managing their businesses through very narrow KPIs.  Without a strong voice to counter this (normally that voice is a marketer) then innovation is stifled and consultants forced down narrow traditional methods.

Take the line manager under pressure at the end of the month. They force everyone in the team to hit the phones and bulk send emails, abandoning potentially profitable channels in order to massage figures whilst simultaneously damaging the brand at the same time.

As a marketer I am constantly looking at new and innovative ways to engage with the candidate and client in order to drive sales.  I also have to look at the medium and long term branding issues.  This kind of software can often make that an invidious task.

Recruitment is sales led and it has to be, but the impact some leaders are having on their long term branding and sales success by over reliance on this type of analytic software is worrying.  In short the software out there seems massively behind the times and not geared up for the digital and social revolution.

Of course you have the added complication that Linkedin will shut down any API where they think they can make money, job posting software isn’t integrated into all database systems (at least not to any meaningful way), email marketing software options are limited by preference of database providers, the list goes on.  I understand that it is difficult.  I also understand that sometimes we can over-complicate recruitment.  But it can’t be beyond the wit of man to support recruitment leaders in ensuring they have a full picture of their business and where they can make money.