What DCG's Partner Finder Brings to the Software Market
The importance of having the right technology in place is hard to overestimate. That being said, no matter how stellar the technology chosen is, at the end of the day, it is inanimate because what actually breathes life into it are people and process. Whether you are in the market to buy a new content management system or a brand new CRM solution, as much as it is critical, selecting the right software is only part of the equation. From finding the right implementation partner to employing the right employees with the right skillsets, there are numerous moving parts that contribute to the ultimate success of your deployment.
Surprisingly, evaluating those digital partners gets even more daunting than choosing the best-fit software. Why? First, there are literally over 80,000 of them out there. Second, ironically enough, there are too few resources that help buyers categorize or compare them in a meaningful way.
In recognition of this gap on the market, Digital Clarity Group (DCG), a research and advisory firm, took a different approach and launched an online resource called DCG’s Partner Finder for helping hundreds of technology buyers find the firms with the right competencies, skills, and experience. Following the announcement of this unique initiative, our media reporter Laura Myers reached out to Scott Liewehr of Digital Clarity Group to discuss their new DCG Partner Finder and what it brings to the market for both digital agencies and all the current and prospective customers out there.
First things first, for those who are not familiar with the firm, what is the position that DCG takes in the market? DCG helps organizations deliver world-class customer experience by bringing unprecedented transparency to selecting, engaging, and optimizing relationships with digital partners and technology vendors. The firm has been delivering on its mission through its VOCalis, customer satisfaction assessment program which is its vendor and digital partner selection services. With the latest addition of its free service, Partner Finder, DCG will even more effectively help buyers create short lists of qualified digital partners based on key criteria.
Scott used a great analogy to simplify which way this service will benefit buyers: “Think of Partner Finder as 'kayak.com' for digital partners. If you used Kayak before, you can conduct a search and then whittle down a list through filtering by the things like the partner type, geography, a specific industry vertical expertise, technical expertise, or even the combination of a few criteria at once."
The next step for DCG is integrating its VOCalis and Partner Finder by surfacing some of the hundreds of reviews DCG has captured through the VOCalis, customer satisfaction assessment program. Once that integration is done, as Scott puts it, the platform will “shift from Kayak to TripAdvisor.”
What Partner Finder Brings to the Market
As mentioned earlier, eliminating the best-fit digital partners and integrators, while there are 80,000 of them out there, is TOUGH. As if the task itself isn’t hard enough, there are some fundamental issues such as the lack of resources, salespeople’s conflict of interest, distrust buyer group, afterthought syndrome, and so on.
DCG’s approach to the matter is focused more on helping buyers understand past performance of the vendor and partner because the team believes that while technology vendors sell products and service providers sell promises, taking a hard look into how they have actually delivered their promises so far is the only way to foresee future success of a project.
This very exact mindset gave birth to DCG’s Voice of Customer (VOC) assessment service in the first place. Most obviously, digital leaders and technology buyers would potentially be the biggest benefactors of both programs, VOCalis and Partner Finder, however, besides them, agencies and integrators as well as technology vendors, can get unique insights out of the buyers’ input.
What kind of information can all the stakeholders get out of the data DCG provides with the combination of these two programs, you may ask? Here is a brief rundown to give you an idea:
For agencies and integrators;
Actionable feedback on their own performance
Insight on competitors’ performance (their weaknesses and strengths)
Showcase their achievements
For technology vendors;
How a Buyer Would Utilize the DCG Partner Finder
Scott also shed light on the situations where a buyer would want to use a tool like DCG Partner Finder and he said that there are four use cases:
A buyer has a new or shelved technology and they are on the lookout for finding the right partner to implement it.
A buyer who already has the right technology implemented but for some reason, they are looking for a new digital partner.
A buyer who is looking for a new technology and an integrator partner which is the ideal scenario, according to Scott.
A buyer who is just looking for a specific new type of expertise that can help them with some sort of strategy rather than a technology.
When it comes to the resources for finding the right agencies and integrators, Scott brought up good points about why vendors’ salespeople might not be as effective as we think they would be. While there are many possible scenarios, Scott stresses the fact that salespeople do not necessarily have enough feedback on their service partners. Another reason why a salesperson directs a buyer to a specific integrator partner might be a competing interest. Also, while salespeople are very aware of a buyer’s expectations’ from the technology, more often than not, they don’t have so much insight into their other digital strategies.
At the end of the day, the premise of the programs like VOCalis and Partner Finder are making the market more transparent and fair for everyone involved. On that note, Scott also shared the frustration coming from the other side of the coin. He says that agencies are having a hard time differentiating themselves, especially in two particular areas.
First, there are so many service partners in one vendor ecosystem. Since they all know about the platform, they need to differentiate themselves in different ways such as highlighting their industry vertical expertise.
The struggle is real especially for those who truly perform so well. Since all the agencies claim to do so, it is hard to showcase their achievements without ending up coming across as one of those embellished case studies. That’s why, one of the premises of Partner Finder is helping partners get in the room or land on buyers’ shortlist, and from there, establish their credibility.
You may buy the perfect, best-fit, future-proof technology, if you do not have the right digital partner or integrator to cherish that technology and navigate your strategy, there are high chances you will end up not maximizing the benefits, if not flushing your technology investment down the toilet.
Regarding Scott’s point on the lack of resources about finding the right partner, it is impossible not to agree with him. There is some sort of tier systems that buyers can find on vendors’ websites but I don’t think they really tell much about the partner’s capabilities and expertise. The market search studies are a good start but they do not include many agencies that actually would be the best fit in some cases. Therefore, when we heard about DCG’s new initiative, Partner Finder, it really excited us. After all, this is one of the areas that DCG has been helping with for years. Now that it is online and available to the masses, more and more buyers can make informed decisions without spending months on creating shortlists.