Regular readers know that I travel to Europe twice a year to do business and work with my partners Satama and LBi/OX2. During my most recent trip I was delighted to have more time to talk at length with a wide variety of companies, practitioners, and thought leaders and a few things stood out in my mind after these conversations:
- The European market is not unlike the U.S. market in terms of practitioner experience and overall thought leadership. I reported this after my last trip based primarily on survey data, but have been delighted to verify that there are some really amazing people doing some truly great things “across the pond.” This includes end-users and analytics managers inside companies and thought and practice leaders like Steve Jackson at Satama, Aurelie Pols and her team at LBi/OX2, Dennis Mortensen, Lars Johannsen, Oliver Schiffers, Marianina Chapin, Brian Clifton, and a whole lot of folks I’m forgetting to list! In a way, Dennis Mortensen recently became the “Avinash Kaushik” of Europe, a full-blown analytics evangelist!
- The European market is different than the U.S. market in terms of investment in web analytics, although less so that I previously believed. After countless conversations about technology, people, and process, I kept coming back to the same conclusion: Europe is somewhere between two and four years behind the U.S. in terms of investment in web analytics. More specifically, I believe that the northern countries (Nordics, UK, Holland, primarily) are more like the U.S. in terms of their investment and, broadly speaking, the lag-behind time increases as you move further south. My evidence is anecdotal to be sure, but when I tested the theory most people working for pan-European organizations agreed — do you?
Based on these two points I come to the inevitable conclusion that Europe is about to really take off in terms of the adoption and use of web analytics. Those of you keeping track will recall that it was about two years ago that the practice of web analytics really started to accelerate here in the U.S. I think that the northern European countries especially are about to begin this same type of rapid adoption/expansion we’ve seen over the past two years, which is excellent news!
Now, some of you are certainly saying “well duh, Peterson” either because you work for a U.S.-based vendor who has been bulking up in Europe for the last 12 months, or more likely because you’re European and are experiencing what I’ve described first hand. Fair enough. But my point is not that Europe is running behind the U.S. in adoption of analytics; my point is that European practitioners, consultants, and vendors are in a different place than their U.S.-based counterparts and thusly would benefit from a different support organization than we benefit from here in North America. Specifically, I believe that Europe should have its own Web Analytics Association.
Yep, I think we need a EuWAA.
Because the needs of European practitioners, vendors, consultants, and even the European media are different, I increasingly suspect that a North American-based WAA may not be best suited to provide the same type of great opportunities, educational events, and benefits we appreciate in the U.S. and Canada. And, while I agreed to not name names, I think some European WAA members don’t disagree with this assessment and would relish the chance to provide/receive additional value from a more locally run association.
A sister organization in Europe, one governed by a European Board of Directors and funded primarily by European vendors and consulting firms, would invariably be better able to serve the needs of specific markets at different stages of analytics maturity. The EuWAA could set country-specific pricing, have both regional and pan-European events, and make decisions that were carefully focused on the needs of different European constituencies.
I’m not saying anything is wrong with the current WAA; I think that the current and past board’s of directors have done a good job working to include European members in the decision making process and overall value chain. I’m saying is that there is an opportunity to “think different” (to quote Jim Sterne) and consider how a more regional focus might be better for everyone. The NaWAA could focus on North American events, opportunites, outreach, and issues and create even more value for members here in the states and Canada. And the NaWAA and EuWAA could work together to provide value for emerging markets across the globe.
In terms of funding, I would propose that A) there are a ton of European vendors who would be willing to support the EuWAA, B) that the U.S.-based vendors looking to expand into Europe would be motivated to support the group, C) European companies and practitioners would be more likely to support a European organization focused on the specific needs of European businesses and D) it would be very appropriate for the NaWAA to provide seed capital to this new, sister organization.
Analytics Demystified would gladly join as a founding member since we’re a global organization!
I don’t want to get into more specifics here, but if you have an open mind you might see that the idea makes a ton of sense and that a lot of the necessary work has already been done. And while I’m not 100% sure which of the European citizens running for the WAA Board have been elected, between those fine folks, the European thought leaders, and forward thinking European vendors and consultancies, I firmly believe that EuWAA can be done successfully.
I also believe, while some will argue this, that the Web Analytics Association in general will be better for breaking up into regionally focused sister organizations. Because our practice is still relatively young, there is undoubtedly differential geographic maturation and I think this needs to be recognized and treated appropriately.
Anyway, I just wanted to put the idea out there. With the annual meeting/party happening in a few weeks in San Francisco it seemed like as good a time as any to bring EuWAA up and get people talking.