#eMetrics Boston 2012: Key Takeaways

Last week was another great eMetrics, this time in my (new) hometown, Boston. In case you missed the 10,000 tweets, here are a few of my key takeaways, as well as a few of the giggles that entertained me.

Top themes:

1. It’s (still) about people

If you are reading this, I don’t need to tell you about the challenges of attracting, nurturing and retaining talent in this industry. However, while the focus was absolutely on the people within an analytics team (with an entire track was devoted to recruiting and career advice!) other sessions highlighted the need to focus on people more generally. From building your team to communicating with others to building a culture of analytics, here were some of “thoughts of the day(s)”:

  • It’s critical to take time to train users, but on what they need to know, rather than just generic training. – Chris Johannessen
  • Analytics can’t be successful without goals, but it’s critical that goals are politically aligned. – Jim Sterne
  • Building an analytics culture requires you to play both offense and defense. Play offense by messaging exceptions and continually getting your message out. Playing defense by ensuring data quality – for example, making sure you have alerts set up. – Chris Johannessen
  • Regarding hiring: “Buy talent, rent skills.” If you’re filling very specific skill gap, use consultants. To build team, hire talent. – Corry Prohens
  • But, Shari Cleary made it clear it’s also critical to hire people who complement your team, and bring new skillsets in.
  • A question was asked: “Why is it so much easier to argue for tools than for people?” Jim Sterne’s answer? “Because there are very few vendors selling people.” Absolutely the truth. Which leads me to …

2. It’s not about the tools

As Gilligan said, “Do not ask – which tools do we need? Ask – what data do we want?” Recruiting advice (and practices!) are even moving away from the tools. As Eric Feinberg said: “Hire for mindset, not toolset.” Keep in mind that in the end, “all the tools in the world can feed your brain but they’re not going to give you insight. Your brain creates insight.” – Jim Sterne. And: “I don’t care if you have a Formula One in your driveway if you can’t drive it” – it is critical to be leveraging tools, technology, and integrating them! – Stephane Hamel.

Speaking of tools, while tag management vendors have been around for a while, this was certainly the first eMetrics where they stole the show.

In case you live under a rock missed it, Google announced a free tag management solution, and eMetrics was crawling with assorted tag management vendors. It’s easy to think of tag management as the newest “fad” or the newest shiny tool. However, I hope it allows us to move away from focusing on “the tools”, put them into the context and the process they need to be, and focus on the outcomes we’re driving and the value we’re delivering.

3. It’s not even about data

The term “big data” is being thrown all over the place these days, but I think Eric Feinberg said it best: “It’s not about big data, it’s about big judgment.” Using the data, making big decisions and taking big actions is what matters – no matter how big or small your data is. After all: “Research without insights is just trivia.” – KD Paine

Parting thoughts

But in the end, this really stuck with me:

“My key takeaways from eMetrics were: 1) I am not alone and my problems are shared. 2) The tools for success are there but the balancing act is on you.” – @doubleks (for someone with only four tweets, he sure made them profound!)

PS. There’s always time for fun
(And the people in our industry are tons of it!)

A few of my favourite moments:

Rocking the Satellite Bandana

Fenway Park

DAA Fenway Event

If you didn’t get to attend the DAA Fenway event, I have to say … you missed out. Speaker Tim Zue was fascinating talking about how the Red Sox use data to manage everything from ticket prices to understanding no-shows and more, and even gave out valuable prizes for questions! The feedback from DAA members and event attendees was that it was a resounding success, so check out the next member event near you!

Lobby Bar

Chocolate, eMetrics Style - Thanks Rene!

Oh yeah, and …

'Nuff said...

Until next time, eMetrics … “Where did you go?!”


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