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If you translate IT analytics professions into their Hollywood counterparts, analysts are the stars and big data architects are the directors. It’s great to be in the leading roles. But you can’t make a movie with just stars and a director. Somebody has to build sets, manage the lighting and roll film. Our IT analytics equivalent is ETL – the difficult but totally essential process of moving data and manipulating it into the highly usable forms specified by the architects and demanded by the analysts. In this extended series on big data, I’ve so far concentrated on the essential role... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at SemAngel
More Thoughts on Analyzing the User Journey I saw an article this past week in the local rag touting a bold new initiative in social media to localize advertising by country. In the featured case study, a company had targeted different messages by gender and country. Imagine, personalization at the 50% of the country population level! Wow. That's kind of like walking around at a conference, shaking people's hand and saying, "Hello girl" or " Hello boy". This is 2015, right? I didn’t fall asleep last night and wake up in 1995? Are we really bragging about digital (digital!) media... Continue reading
Posted Mar 22, 2015 at SemAngel
The single biggest reason why enterprises build a big data digital analytics warehouse? To do attribution or customer journey optimization. Since attribution is just an extension of customer journey with a marketing lens put on top, it follows that modeling customer journey is a critical part of building a successful digital big data warehouse. Here is an approach to creating simple, compact and very powerful representations of the customer journey for the omni-channel enterprise. Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2015 at SemAngel
Building a data model for real-time personalization is one of the most interesting challenges around. In this post, I layout the basic architecture and approach for a real-time digital data model and show how it can deliver incredible performance at massive scale with in-memory approaches and clever use of data structures. That's essential to delivering web personalization that combines the essential ingredients of effective personalization decisioning - knowing who the customer is, where they are in their journey, and what they are doing right now. Continue reading
Posted Mar 1, 2015 at SemAngel
In my last post on building a digital data model for the analytics warehouse, I described the concept of statistical ETL and argued for its critical importance in creating a robust and easily used visit-level data model. That post drew an interesting comment from a friend of mine arguing not with the concept of statistical ETL, but against the idea of a visit-level aggregation. Here’s the comment (from John Stansbury): Gary, As usual, great blog. It just seems that we've got to get past the notion of visits and sessions. Those entities only exist for the convenience of measurement tools--consumers... Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2015 at SemAngel
Guest Post by Kelly Wortham I’ve been involved in several conversations lately regarding the pros and cons of MVT vs A/B for isolating and understanding results of optimization testing. The conversations go something like this: “A/B gets you an answer so much faster with easier to interpret and explain results!” “MVT is the only way to understand each element’s interaction with the other elements!” “MVT can create nonsense combinations that simply waste traffic and unnecessarily lengthen test time while also risking customer experience! At least with A/B you can be confident you’re avoiding that!” “If you’re not running MVT, you... Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2015 at SemAngel
I began this series with a short essay on the meaning of big data and why digital data is paradigmatic of big data. In digital, the unit of meaning lies above the level of the individual records we collect and cannot be represented as a simple aggregation of those records. A page view, taken in isolation, is largely without meaning, and no simple count, sum or average of page views will capture the meaning inherent in the behavioral stream. This lack of meaning at the detail level is a huge challenge. In my last post, I described a re-formulation of... Continue reading
Posted Feb 8, 2015 at SemAngel
Not too long ago I enjoyed a fascinating conversation over lunch with Loren Hadley on our team here at EY around some work he's been doing analyzing Web performance in China. This seemed highly germane to many of our clients, so I asked Loren if he'd be willing to redo the conversation in written form. I wrote up the questions, Loren provided the insight... You’ve been working on some analytics projects that are China focused and part of that has been comparing China to other regions and countries – not just the U.S…what’s your sense of how different China is?... Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2015 at SemAngel
Where should you start when modeling digital data for the big data analytics warehouse? A good place to begin is by re-thinking the way the event-level data is stored. Yes, you'll want to keep this data at the lowest level of detail. In fact, you'll actually want to unpack some of the data to make for a more consistent and queryable data stream. In this post, I'll catalog some of the deficiencies in the shape of the data in a digital analytics feed (such as Adobe's) and show how it can be transformed into something that is much easier to understand and that makes many, many queries much easier to write. Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2015 at SemAngel
A Quick Introduction to Big Data Does the term big data get at something real or is it just a handy catch-phrase for helping IT departments get more budget and IT vendors sell new kinds of boxes? It’s not an easy question to answer, largely because most of the people buying and selling big data have largely missed the real point of it. Most of those buyers and sellers have tended to describe “big data” in terms of things like volume, variety and velocity. We have more, they say, and this somehow changes the problem. It doesn’t. People have struggled... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2015 at SemAngel
Here at EY, we spent a good chunk of time last year helping client’s build out digital capabilities in the analytics warehouse. In some cases, that meant building traditional data stores and traditional data models in Oracle and SQL-Server. But for the most part, it meant building analytics capabilities on top of Hadoop systems; that’s been bracing, difficult, sometimes frustrating, and always interesting. I remain convinced that the future of analytics lies in working at a very detailed level of the data (though I think there’s much to be debated about exactly which level of detail is right). I also... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2015 at SemAngel
I just did a quick count of my posts from 2014 and it came to (surprise!)….52. So I (or I plus analytics club members Kelly and Jim) averaged exactly 1 post a week. Of course, that’s assuming I don’t finish this post till after the New Year. Most years past I’ve tried to write a year-end summary that called out the posts I really liked – the ones I think worth seeking out. I know it’s expecting a lot to read all or even most of these posts during the year. Who has the time? But this year I’ve decided... Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 2015 at SemAngel
My daughters have recently begun to stage weekend “film festivals” where they will run four, five or even six movies over the course of two or three days. It began with a Best-of-Pixar marathon that included Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monster Inc., Incredibles, Ratatouille, and Up. "Success" lead to a Miyazaki festival (Kiki, Cat Returns, Castle in the Sky, Totoro, Howl) and, last weekend, a best of Dreamworks that included Monster v. Aliens, Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda. Perhaps that’s thinner gruel, but I love Kung Fu Panda and my topic today brought to mind Kung Fu Panda’s “Secret... Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2014 at SemAngel
Thursday morning I spent an hour talking “live” with Jim Sterne as part of a new DAA program called “Thought Leader Conversations”. It was cool. The conversations are a more relaxed, unfocused, genuinely enjoyable (at least for the participants) kind of public experience than I’m used to. It’s really nothing more than an extended conversation / QA – but Jim is a master at this kind of thing and non-panel Q&A is something that I’ve always liked better than speaking. We talked about everything from my early history in credit card (and why I think that data was much easier... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2014 at SemAngel
There are four areas from our Voice of Customer (VoC) discussion at X Change that I'm highlighting. In the first post, I wrote about a way to explore task accomplishment in more depth. In the second I outlined a method for using VoC to understand customer journeys. For the third, I described how VoC can be a super-efficient way to test creative strategies before investing in an expensive A/B or MVT test. Here, I discuss why it might make sense for digital analytics folks to spend a little more time measuring product not just website and marketing. The overwhelming majority... Continue reading
Posted Nov 22, 2014 at SemAngel
There are four areas from our Voice of Customer (VoC) discussion at X Change that I'm highlighting. In the first post, I wrote about a way to explore task accomplishment in more depth. In the second I outlined a method for using VoC to understand customer journeys. Here's the third, showing how VoC can be a super-efficient way to test creative strategies before investing in an expensive A/B or MVT test. One of the really interesting discussions in the VoC Huddle that illustrates how flexible online surveys can be revolved around the use of online intercept surveys to test creative... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2014 at SemAngel
There are four areas from our Voice of Customer (VoC) discussion at X Change that I'm highlighting. In the first post, I wrote about a way to explore task accomplishment in more depth. Here's the second - outlining a method for using VoC to understand customer journeys. I really should devote a full post (or even a series) to the techniques we’ve been deploying around VoC to measure a broader spectrum of the customer journey. Here, I’m just going to try and sketch out a capsule summary of the overall approach we discussed at X Change. When we ask someone... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2014 at SemAngel
No area of analytics is as underserved in the enterprise as Voice of Customer (VoC). Despite plenty of lip-service to caring about what the customer thinks, VoC data tends to under-collected, under-processed, and under-distributed. It’s a shame, because VoC is powerful, easy to deploy, inexpensive and easy to understand. Yes, it’s true that most enterprises these days do collect basic information around satisfaction – especially NPS. But as I’ve written before, NPS is no more than scoreboard. It’s a reasonably interesting metric in terms of brand perception, but its information content is very low and largely non-digital. You can get... Continue reading
Posted Nov 15, 2014 at SemAngel
When you look at the evolution of digital measurement in the enterprise and study organizations that have achieved a significant degree of maturity, you’ll notice that they come in two distinct flavors: the analytic and the informational. Analytic organizations have strong teams studying the data and driving testing, personalization and customer lifecycle strategies. Informational organizations have widespread, engaged usage of data across the organization with key stakeholders absorbing and using data intelligently to make decisions. It’s not impossible for an enterprise to be both analytic and informational, but the two aren’t necessarily related either. You might expect that organizations that... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2014 at SemAngel
On Tuesday morning I was feeling cursed. Which isn’t natural when you’re in a gorgeous room looking out on a huge pool with the sun sparkling on those tiny little waves that an early morning swimmer makes.Two kinds of fires, one literal and one figurative, were confounding me. The real thing? An electrical fire at a nearby Starwood hotel had relocated another conference (of electricians(!) – irony of ironies) to the Phoenician; causing us to shift half our rooms, re-visit the flow of our event, and re-print everything. It could, I suppose, have been much worse. The fire might have... Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2014 at SemAngel
What are the top issues in Digital Analytics? It's hard to ignore the tidal wave that is big data, but Data Democratization, Optimization, Personalization and Talent are my top four choices. Here's why, along with the conversations at X Change that are worth joining if you agree... Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2014 at SemAngel
Gary, I’ve written so much already, I hesitate to summarize the series as you suggested. The 8 points you pulled out do a pretty good job in and of themselves. Instead, let me focus on the 5 things companies can do right now to optimize their optimization program – and I will include some of the key themes and take-aways from our conversation. Stop listening to consultants. There is no such thing as “one-size-fits-all” best practices in digital optimization. Stop listening to consultants who try to tell you there is. Best practice blogs and books should be considered “one size... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2014 at SemAngel
Gary, I’m going to do my best to “bring it home” as you requested in your last post but that’s a lot to cover in a single post. Hopefully, I won’t lose folks along the way! Stick with me, everyone – I promise to make it worth your time. Measuring the success or ROI of any program or team can be challenging. Analytics teams have struggled with this for way longer than optimization teams have even been in existence so you know very well how challenging it can be to devise a way to measure both operational efficiency and impact.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2014 at SemAngel
With our much abbreviated timeline, now is indeed the time to register for X Change. What makes X Change special? The answer is simple. The format. When I started X Change eight years ago, my idea was pretty simple. I go to a lot of conferences. I speak at a lot of conferences. I’ve gotten to almost enjoy the speaking (I’m a nervous Nellie by nature) and I try to add real value. But sitting in an audience listening to anybody’s presentation is, even at its best, a somewhat dissatisfying experience. There are questions you’d like to ask, things you’d... Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2014 at SemAngel
Kelly, It’s been hugely fun to do this this series (and the one on Personalization with Jim – who still owes me a post!) – so thanks. I don’t know about you, but the back-and-forth sure seems to make it easier to write this much content. As I mentioned offline, I’m hoping we can put all this together into a Whitepaper for Q4 as a little something to remember our initial Analytics Club foray by. Before we wrap up, though, there are a few final issues I wanted to get your thoughts on. I’ll start by picking up a thread... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2014 at SemAngel