In preparation heading into eMetrics London I reached out Jim Sterne the founder of the conference to quiz him on some questions about what is happening in the industry. I had some points that I had thought he would have some balanced views on, so he was kind enough to dedicate some of his busy schedule into answering some of these questions and some about the upcoming eMetrics London 2013 event.
- What do you see as the biggest problem facing analysts? Implementation, Accuracy or Resources? The biggest problem facing analysts is their inability to garner sufficient appreciation in the executive halls to secure the resources they need to solve the rest of their problems. There is a serious need for analysts to learn communication skills. With this much value on offer, knowing how to communicate that value is paramount.
- What is one new tool/platform that has peaked your interest lately that people should consider exploring? I tend to look out over the horizon at things not quite ready for prime time, that people should be thinking about. At the moment, I am intrigued by AboutTheData.com. Acxiom is invited the public to review the data they have about individuals that is used for advertising targeting. This is not a tool or a platform, but a marketing strategy in transparency. This is the beginning of the customer and the enterprise negotiating with data for value. Should prove interesting.
- Are you still excited about big data? What is the next big thing you see for analytics? I am so very over the hype about Big Data being a lot of hype. Yes, we have reached the peak of inflated expectations but I think the trough of disillusionment is going to be a lot shallower than expected before the slope of enlightenment kicks in. Mostly because it's no longer about the tools. The next Thing for analytics is learning how drive... and going far.
- Do you agree resource limitations have meant AB testing has replaced mutli-variant testing? I think that is company and even department specific. There is no reason to dive into multi-variant testing if you are still reaping the rewards of A/B testing. On the other hand, there is no reason to ignore it either.
- Is business ready for the mass of data that real-time analytics produces? This too is a horses for courses question. Some businesses thrive on real (-ish) time data and others never will. But eventually enough big companies step up to the challenge and start delivering value on the promise. At that point, real-time becomes a competitive advantage and everybody will jump on the train as it's leaving the station.
- Do you think people rely on attribution modelling in analytics software too much now to develop their own? Attribution models built into analytics tools are there as templates, not as solutions. They are suggestions designed as the starting point. Rigorous testing and evaluation will deliver results that point to the most valuable models. Relying on pre-packaged models without thought is like relying on frozen dinners without ever cooking your own. It's possible but it's not healthy.
- How do you think the US/Asia sees the EU's strict data protection directive? Will they follow the EU's lead? There is such a cultural divide between the US and the EU on this issue that the US might follow, but it will take years and only happen when there are serious, egregious and harmful breaches of security. Until then, the boy is crying wolf with no impact. The EU has experienced the misuse of data first-hand and with deadly results. The US is shocked and appalled by what we're learning about the NSA but until there is actual harm done, the populace will remain complacent and the economic engines of data gathering, storing and reselling will drown out the sound of protesters.
- It's been a year since the EU cookie law, do you think business adapted well to the change? Very hard to say from California. The view isn't very good from here.
- For the past 10 years eMetrics has taken you around the world what's your favourite city for attendees? London! OK, maybe it's just because I have always loved London. I find the audiences are energized differently at different times rather than different locations. After a few years in Sydney where I had the feeling the audience was curious rather than interested, I got the distinct feeling that they were fully engaged in 2013. San Francisco has the most people who are wild-eyed about the possibilities and Boston has a very low tolerance for arm-waving, supposition and "someday-you'll-be-able-to". London has the most demand for practical examples of real world problems solved in a resource-sensitive ways. There's an admiration for the technology bit without the slavish fondling found in so many other cities.
- What makes London a great city for attending eMetrics? London has the most vibrant audience due to proximity. People come from all over for eMetrics in San Francisco and Berlin and Boston. But when you meet somebody at the London eMetrics Summit, you are very likely to meet up with them again in the weeks and months to follow because you're in the same town. London shares the same energy as San Francisco and the events of the day easily become the events of the night... every night.
- If people want to mix more outside of eMetrics what are some meetup/industry groups you would recommend them checking out? Jim offered these 4 Digitial Analytics Association, Measure Camp, Web Analytics Demystified, and Yahoo Web Analytics Groups.
- What is the main ideas/points that you hope people to get from attending your conference? Oh, I could write a book! The numbers are for projecting and analyzing and not for bookkeeping. Don't let your managers keep you in a corner generating reports... get out there and derive some insights and express your data-informed opinions proudly. Help your organization achieve its goals with useful data. Embrace new data streams but don't get blinded by all the shiny stuff. Do useful work. If it's not done in the service of earn more, spend less and make customers happier then you are spinning your wheels and will lose your funding.
- What are some of the other sessions/speakers at eMetrics London 2013 that you are looking to see? I must admit that I am looking forward to ALL of them and for good reason: I picked them! OK - truth be told, this agenda was put together by the inimitable Peter O'Neill who has a very sensitive finger on the pulse of digital analytics in London. There are some returning speakers whom I simply love and want to see again, but I am fascinated by those who are new to me.
- Are there any other Data Driven Business Week conferences or sessions you are looking forward to seeing? Would that there were time to see them all!
- Also what social profiles do you want me to link to if people want to follow/engage with you online? Twitter, Google+
Thanks Jim for your time in answering these questions. If you want to catch Jim speak and save ££££ on tickets for eMetrics London you can use our discount code LOSTAGENCY13 and you can register and find out more here.