Digital Analytics Hub – Conference Recap
I’m back at my desk from the Digital Analytics Hub in the Big Easy and I’m feeling fresh and fired up about Digital Analytics. It may sound like a cliche, but how many conferences have you been to that purport to send you back to your desk with a go-to list of new ideas to take action on? Most conferences make these promises, most fall short. But for me, the DA Hub really delivered.
For those of you unfamiliar with the DA Hub, it’s a unique conference format in that there are no PowerPoint presentations or main stage speeches where one individual spouts wisdom to the masses. Not here. The format of the DA Hub is a series of huddles that are facilitated conversations among digital analytics professionals. As a consultant, I found myself sitting between client-side practitioners and vendors from many facets of analytics in almost every huddle that I attended. This multi-perspective-view enabled us to elevate the conversation beyond a one-sided bias to represent a cumulative vantage point for approaching digital analytics challenges. The overarching goal as stated by the conference co-organizer Michael Feiner, was not to solve the industry’s biggest challenges, but instead to put them on the table and discuss successes, failures, opportunities, and aspirations.
I’ll also mention that it was a safe environment for sharing, networking, and exchanging ideas. As I stood at the opening reception with a few other grizzed analytics industry veterans, we collectively guffawed about the days of old and agreed that there was a good mix of old-timers, newcomers, and rising stars in the digital analytics industry present at this event. More importantly, each huddle conversation started with a gentle reminder that all comments and feedback were unattributable and therefore sharing was encouraged and protected.
Perhaps the worst thing about the DA Hub was not being able to attend all of the sessions. Inevitably, we were made to choose which huddles to attend. However, the good news is that there’s a LinkedIn Group (ask for your invitation!) that contains a synopsis of each huddle and the Outcomes that derived from each.
Here are my key take-away’s from the huddles I attended:
- Google and Adobe: Guard your lunch. Our little industry has seen it’s share of consolidation among vendors in the past few years. This may lead many to believe that it’s a two horse race when it comes to vendor choices for analytics data collection and analysis platforms. However, advancing perspectives, burgeoning technologies and MarTech proliferation have created a new environment that challenges the conventional thinking around build versus buy. Several enterprises have taken on the task of building out their own analytics platforms with great success. The benefits include greater integration flexibility, enhanced reporting capabilities, and data ownership. While building a solution isn’t for everyone; the big industry stalwarts (Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics) beware, because the roll your own crowd may just eat your lunch.
- You can’t build a house on a shaky foundation. While the DA Hub did focus on a large number of advancements and innovations in the digital analytics industry (think AI, machine learning, customer identification across devices), many foundational elements in analytics are still a challenge. Specifically in the huddles I attended we discussed data governance, analyst skill sets, and basic reporting to meet organizational needs. Even some of the most successful companies in digital analytics are challenged with keeping data clean, nurturing talent, and building workable process around digital analytics. There are tried and true methods for fortifying your digital analytics practice. But when it comes to building, maintaining, and instilling confidence across companies (both large and small); the struggle is real.
- Run, don’t walk toward the future of digital analytics. Things are moving fast in digital analytics. If you’ve inadvertently got blinders on and are stuck at your desk, heads down implementing variables, pumping out reports, or delivering analysis, you’re gonna get burned. The scope of initiatives and activities that fall onto digital analytics teams today is increasing rapidly. It’s not enough anymore to just worry about the customer journey across your webpages and acquisition channels. Now we’ve got multi-device, multi-data sources, and multi-processing challenges to think about. Advancements in AI and machine learning can help us optimize at the speed of the customer. If you’re not working these angles in the next 12 to 18 months, your customers are going to notice. What’s more alarming as we advance our use and understanding of Marketing Science, privacy continues to be a show-stopping issue. If you’re not thinking about GDPR and ePrivacy today, deadlines and fines may be in your near-term future. Digital analytics is moving faster than ever and if you’re not keeping up, then you will most definitely suffer consequences.
In closing, I’ll sum up my experience at the Digital Analytics Hub with the same answer I gave during a short interview onsite in New Orleans…when asked if I’d return to the event next year…I gave a resounding YES! Kudos go out to the event organizers Michael, Matthias Bettag and all of the attendees who made this event one to remember.