Kemelor and Dershewitz may sound more like a Law Firm than a major strategic shift for a web analytics consultancy. But those names are, in fact, part of the latter and not the former. Because (at least as far as I know) you can’t hire Kemelor and Dershewitz to refute dog fighting allegations, argue cases before the supreme court or even get your divorce papers signed. What you can do, is hire them to do world class web measurement and analytics. And if you are working with Semphonic, you actually already have.
We’ve done press releases in the last several weeks, so you may already have heard that both Phil Kemelor and June Dershewitz have joined Semphonic. If you haven’t already heard this news, here’s a little background on each.
I mentioned in a previous post that I first encountered Phil through his writing. He’s written ‘The Executive’s Guide to Web Site Measurement and Testing’ and the ‘CMS Watch Web Analytics Report.’ I’ve talked about both in the past. When I read them, I was particularly impressed by Phil’s crisp and lucid writing. Since I’m an inveterate reader of novels, I take good writing pretty seriously. I think it’s almost impossible to write well and clearly about a subject unless you have a clear and powerful understanding of it. I know that’s true in Phil’s case.
Like most of us at Semphonic, Phil’s been at web analytics for a good while. He was on board in the glory days of NetGenesis – back when Semphonic was still a two man operation and web analytics had to be seriously evangelized. And, like many of us here, he’s also done some other things before web analytics (including some professional writing). Phil worked in marketing for 10 years (before there was such a thing as web analytics) including directing marketing programs and investor relations for a NYSE-listed company. And he has invaluable real-world IT experience from 5 years managing enterprise web application development (including CMS, e-commerce, enterprise portal) and web operations. I think that’s good too.
In my last SEM Analytics post I ended by talking about how important a broad understanding of business is to really do web analytics properly. You get that broad understanding by working with Marketing and IT and Operations; by running your own business; by doing all sorts of different things. Experience – all sorts of experience – really can help if you know how to make it work for you.
Phil is based (and will be staying) in Washington, D.C. as our VP of Strategic Consulting Services. That works out well for us, more than half our business is on the East Coast and we’ve been looking to bolster our team there for awhile. In addition, Phil adds a different kind of perspective to our team. His focus has been very much on helping enterprise and government agencies deploy and understand how to use web analytics strategically. Most of us at Semphonic are very much down in the weeds with tools and analysis and tactical optimization. I think will be a great leavening agent for us – helping us translate the very deep hands-on knowledge already here at Semphonic into even more direct and significant benefits to our clients.
I met June Dershewitz at a Forrester Research lunch with Megan Burns discussing web analytics vendors and tools and I was pretty impressed. It was obvious that she had real knowledge about several tools (pretty unusual in and of it-self) but also that she had perspective on them. Perspective is not just more valuable than tool knowledge; it’s much, much rarer.
June (like Phil) had been working independently in web analytics. Mostly, she was taking the point for large enterprises trying to deploy, remake or significantly extend their web analytics solutions. And, like Phil and like us, she’s been at it for a good long time (eight years now). She’s also been quite active in the web analytics community – certainly a lot more active than I am!
One thing that seemed especially important was the breadth of her technical knowledge. Like me, June has also worked a lot in the non-web analytics space – she knows databases and IT. With so many of our clients increasingly working to integrate web analytics data with other systems, this is becoming a major priority for us. And June has helped companies understand how to handle web analytics data both inside AND outside the web analytics toolbox.
So when June finished up a WebTrends implementation for a Fortune 500 health-care company, we talked seriously about joining forces. She's based out here with the bulk of us - and she'll be coming on board as a VP of Analytics.
Hiring Phil Kemelor and June Dershewitz is a part of a significant new strategic focus for Semphonic. Frankly, in the past we’ve pretty much stuck to hiring freshly-minted college grads and training them up. I won’t stop doing that. It’s worked pretty well for us and it’s a great way to keep your culture fresh and exciting.
But I also believe that these are cross-roads times in web analytics. There is only so much real expertise out there – and it takes too long to train a completely junior analyst up to the level of people like Phil or June for us to grow exclusively with that strategy.
What I believe is happening in our industry is not so much a land-grab as a knowledge grab. The consultancies that have the knowledge and expertise to really deploy and use web analytics at the enterprise level will increasingly dominate the landscape. Frankly, I’d like Semphonic to be one of those.
And I believe that for truly outstanding web analytics practitioners, the opportunity to come work at place like Semphonic is very attractive. Our clients are great. The work is both broad and intellectually challenging. You get a chance to work with the best tools and you are part of team that lives, breathes and, over lunch, talks web analytics. It’s a lot of fun.
Both Phil Kemelor and June Dershewitz extend our team in new and exciting ways. They are also, and this is every bit as important, a very comfortable fit with our culture. Smart, clear, matter-of-fact and experienced in the real-world, they are devoid of the B.S. that I think any good consultancy must guard constantly against.
I’m hoping this marks the beginning of a significant new era for Semphonic. It feels great to have these two on board. And in the next few months, you can look forward to a series of new and, I hope, very exciting announcements from us!