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Executive Summary:

Ultrabrand attracts its celebrity clientele due to its strengths in its four out of five core areas of: digital branding website design, content management, software and app development, and voiceover services. However, Ultrabrand currently lacks in its fifth core area of web analytics and reporting solutions, by using only Google Analytics, which leaves some of their current clients unsatisfied and pushes other potential clients away. When it comes to analysing complex business problems, the data being provided to the clients is often unfiltered, poorly presented and worst of all; sometimes incorrect. Whenever these problems arise, the clients are left to scour online forums to find a solution instead of having email or phone support to take care of their specific needs. The solution is to integrate Inspectlet, a white-label software as a service (SaaS) analytics suite, into Ultrabrand’s service offering. Inspectlet will elevate the Google Analytics platform that is being installed into all its clients’ websites to provide them with filtered and accurate data in a more digestible form. Due to the nature of white-labelled software, this can be accomplished under the Ultrabrand trade dress as the “UltraAnalytics” platform. Ward-Williams, the CEO, would be able to implement it rapidly which would result in significant revenues in the first year alone. This would be executed by Ultrabrand offering a one-month free trial followed by a one-year subscription offer for premium business analytics to lock-down its clients. In the long term, Ultrabrand will benefit from increased profits which would be reflected by increased customer retention and the cost-effective perks of using a SaaS platform.

Overall Analysis:

Web Analytics

Web analytics can provide insights into aspects of a business and is useful for employees at different levels of the organization. Websites can be dynamic with multiple web pages that serve different functional roles for the organization. Having web analytics gives the organization the information they need to act on to further improve their business. Take Amazon for example, they have carefully crafted their digital storefront to maximize their sales based on trends found in the data collected. They have also deliberately built their careers page to help streamline the efficiency of their applications to benefit their HR department (Appendix A). The benefits of web analytics are not just restricted to one industry like online retail. Content providers, search engines, media outlets are continuously improving upon their layout and user experience based off the feedback from their business intelligence (BI). Not all organizations have internal BI teams, so they look towards digital branding firms to help bolster their online presence.

Situation

Ultrabrand is an organization that helps provide expertise to their clients to help improve their online presence through online marketing and digital branding. However, Ultrabrand is losing current and potential clientele due to a lackluster web analytics and reporting solutions service offering. By not offering a more robust BI solution, Ultrabrand risks losing $15,000 for every potential customer that takes their business to other digital branding firms with a more holistic offering. The present offer of only having Google Analytics compromises Ultrabrand’s reputation as a premium service as they are on par, from a BI standpoint, with even the most basic of free website builders. As a direct result, Ultrabrand is struggling to capture the clients of former national branding agencies, as they are used to having a more comprehensive BI solution (Appendix B). Therefore, considering a strategy for a BI offering is a must if Ultrabrand is to succeed in attracting and maintaining its client base. Such a solution needs to be incorporated in a way that does not compromise the other four core areas of the business.

Options Assessment:

Approach

The three options that were shortlisted for an analytics solution for Ultrabrand to offer are: Inspectlet, Whitecap, and hiring a BI analyst. The first option is working with Inspectlet, a software as a service (SaaS) white-label analytics suite, to resell licenses to Ultrabrand’s clients at a premium. The second option is to work with Whitecap to develop a custom analytics software. This would include a consultation to determine requirements and the development of the software. The last option is to hire business intelligence (BI) analyst to create and interpret reports using Google Analytics for Ultrabrand’s clients.

A scorecard was used to help determine which route would be the best for Ultrabrand’s new analytics service (Appendix C). The six criteria used when evaluating each solution were product requirements, implementation, pricing, innovation, suitability, and scalability.

  • Pricing breaks down the initial implementation costs, ongoing costs, and the total cost of the project.
  • Product requirements evaluate if the solution will meet the current functional and technical requirements of Ultrabrand.
  • Implementation and support considers the time needed to get to market and the technical support Ultrabrand will be able to provide to their clients.
  • Suitability considers the degree that the solution aligns with Ultrabrand’s business strategy and if it will affect the other four core areas of the business.
  • Innovation examines the range of products the solution offers and the roadmap of the product’s future features.
  • Scalability rates the ability of the solution to scale as Ultrabrand’s client base grows.

Option A: Inspectlet

Inspectlet will increase the analytical capabilities available for Ultrabrand’s client through a SaaS offering. This being a turnkey solution significantly cuts down the implementation time and effort needed to get the analytics available to Ultrabrand clients. The phone and email support provided by Inspectlet allows Ultrabrand to dedicate fewer resources towards the analytics stream. Inspectlet is continuously innovating their product to meet their customers’ needs without any additional cost as it is built in the licensing fee. A weakness of the future roadmap is that Ultrabrand have limited control on what Inspectlet prioritizes. The SaaS model allows Ultrabrand to scale their analytical services by purchasing additional licenses. The key area Inspectlet showed its strength was the pricing of the solution. After breaking down the financials, it was clear that Inspectlet had the lowest first year (Appendix D) and ongoing cost (Appendix E). The first year of costs going towards implementation is significantly less than the others due to the solution having low resource requirements and software costs. The resource cost is lower due to the software suite not requiring any significant customization and configuration. Software costs are low as Inspectlet will handle the development and maintenance as it is built in the licensing cost.

Option B: Whitecap

Whitecap creating a custom-built software solution will increase the quality of analytics and be built specifically for Ultrabrand’s clients in mind. The price of this quality will come at a significant upfront cost of $12,000 before development has even started, and the initial quote is $50,000 to implement this solution. Additionally, there runs the risk of this project going over time, over budget or falling victim to scope creep. This solution will take much longer time before it is available, so there is an opportunity cost for lost business each month it takes to develop. It would also need to consider the maintenance and R&D costs needed each year to keep it running and keep adding features to accommodate its client’s needs. According to Gartner, 28% of every dollar spent on development will go toward maintenance of the software, which would leave Ultrabrand with an additional $14,000 in the first year alone[1]. Having this custom-made solution will allow for the flexibility of being to handle many different customers’ requests and special needs in their businesses. The issue is that it is not sustainable and would require more investment from Ultrabrand as the number of clients and their requests increase. This option aligns with Ultrabrand’s image of being an elite digital marketing firm and exclusivity. However, there would need to be adjustments to the business structure as they will need to have more in-house IT support needed to make this option function properly. Ultrabrand would need to invest in significant resources for the technical support since it is not provided by the vendor. This option is scalable in the short term, however in the long run when Ultrabrand grows the increased demand for custom software enhancements and for IT support will become problematic to scale.

Option C: Hiring a Business Analyst

Hiring a Business Analyst (BA) will help Ultrabrand deal with the clients who do not have the resources to utilize their BI, however it does not solve all the frustrations they have with Google Analytics. The process to begin searching for a suitable business analyst to join the Ultrabrand team can start as soon as Ward-Williams approves it. The innovation from a BA would still be significantly constrained by the Google Analytics platform. Ultrabrand has already received complaints from clients regarding inconsistent and obscure reporting. The personalized service that comes from a professional in-person relationship would reflect well upon Ultrabrand’s elite service. There would be initial costs of time to recruit a BA the costs needed to train them after they are hired. By using a solution that relies heavily on human labour, it runs the risk of being too constrained by human risks. Events such as the BA contracting an illness will leave no BI resource for Ultrabrand and reflect poorly on the brand. Once the client base begins to grow Ultrabrand will need to consider hiring another BA to handle the personal service, though this option will draw in the most revenues (Appendix F) with the lowest number of clients (Appendix G) after five years.

Recommendation:

Inspectlet was the solution that finished with the highest score after evaluating all three solutions. This solution brings Ultrabrand’s weakest core, business intelligence and reporting solutions up to the expected standard that its clients require so Ultrabrand can focus on the unprecedented quality branding of websites. It would be implemented through a multi-tiered system (Appendix H), those who choose to remain with Google Analytics will be in the lowest tier, those who pay for Inspectlet are in the middle tier and the black titanium card holders will get the perks of the top tier.

Unlike the other two options, Ward-Williams can mobilize with this solution almost immediately, with a low financial commitment (Appendix I). Ultrabrand should spend $1,495 for one month of Inspectlet, and give all hundred licences out to its current clientele for a free one-month trial. At the end of the trial, Ultrabrand should see how many clients are willing to sign onto a one-year contract for Inspectlet at $1,200. If fifteen clients are willing to sign-up, Ward-Williams can proceed with a 1-year discounted Inspectlet enterprise plan, recover the capital spent on trialing and still have a profit, albeit very small. Beyond fifteen clients, the economies of scale will drastically increase the profit per month (Appendix J) and any number below fifteen clients should have Ultrabrand renegotiating a smaller enterprise plan or leave Inspectlet all together (Appendix K). In the rare but worst-case scenario where none of the clients sign-up for a one-year plan, Ward-Williams will lose the $1,495 (Appendix L). However, such a loss is minimal when contrasted to the potential loss of $12,000 in the initial consulting fees of Whitecap or the training and contract fees of an employee with the salary of $66,815.

This approach would give Ward-Williams a much clearer picture of the exact demand from his clients for a more sophisticated BI platform; as well it would also assist in identifying the exact BI needs his clients have. Immediately locking down the clients into one year contracts for Inspectlet will reduce the risk of them leaving for another firm for at least a year, and thus prevent costing Ultrabrand $15,000 in potential revenues. Additionally, it would also provide the cash flow upfront to pay for the licences. In the long term, Ultrabrand will profit from the economies of scale especially as they approach their maximum threshold of one hundred licences as well as from the long-term customer retention.

[1] Kyte, A. (2010). A Framework for the Lifetime Total Cost of Ownership of an Application. Gartner. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from http://www.gartner.com/id=1331651

Appendices:

Appendix A: Amazon

Source: “Amazon Front Page,” Amazon.com, accessed February 26, 2017, https://www.amazon.ca.

*Notice how the largest picture is a promotion for their coupon program and the box for popular departments. This page is no doubt tailored towards helping the sales department of Amazon.

Source: “Amazon Careers,” Amazon.com, accessed February 26, 2017, https://www.amazon.jobs.

*Notice how the page breaks the jobs into 3 sections and how the only advertisement on the page is for their office. This page is designed to streamline and benefit the HR department of Amazon to save costs.

Appendix B: Competitive Landscape

Disclaimer: We do not take credit for the work of creating any of the logos presented. All logos were acquired through a Google Images search of the companies mentioned in the case. All images were accessed on February 27, 2017.

Appendix C: Scorecard

Appendix D: First Year Cost Breakdown

Appendix E: Ongoing Costs

Appendix F: Profit Over 5 Years

Appendix G: Client Growth Over 5 Years

Appendix H: Multi-Tiered System

Appendix I: First Year Implementation

Appendix J: Economy of Scale (Cost Analysis)

Appendix K: Economy of Scale (Profit Analysis)

Appendix L: Risk and Mitigation

 

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