June 8, 2012

Digital Analytics India Symposium 2012 - Takeaways

DAIS 2012 | Source: DAIS
Analytics. What comes to you mind when you hear 'analytics'? Numbers? Data? Mining? Trends? Patterns? Forecast? Well, if any of these buzzed in your mind, then you're thinking in the right direction. Basically, there are two parts - the data itself and the insights one derives from the available data sets. Today, data is available in abundance but still many professionals struggle to make sense out of it. Some find it too demanding, some find using basic tools like Microsoft Excel cumbersome to work with while I've also come across some individuals who perceive it as boring (of course, they don't know what they're missing!). Irrespective of the field you are in, the ability to crunch numbers and derive insights will give you an edge in today's competitive environment.

Back in school, I never enjoyed Mathematics but always found logic and reasoning exciting as it challenged my mind to think and reconstruct the event as it may have happened. My earliest association with analytics started through video games. I started playing Age of Empires when I was in Class VIII and within a week I got addicted to it. I was totally crazy about it!
Age of Empires | Source: Softedia
While my friends used to play games like Doom (action), Need For Speed (car racing) and FIFA (sports), I had a peculiar liking for Age of Empires (strategy) as it was a real-time war game and demanded a superior understanding of numbers - whether it was your resources (wood, food, gold, iron, huts), your team (men, soldiers) or your armory (weapons, bowmen, knights), you just had to calculate all those numbers in your head and accordingly plan your next steps. Everything was so linked, one wrong calculated step could cost you the game two or three levels away. It was like connecting the dots to win the battle. Those who were impatient never really enjoyed the game as they were used to seeing quick results but if you really want to learn 'strategy' young, then I will recommend you to play Age of Empires. The game taught me so much about planning, forecasting and taking action with the right resources at the right time. It cultivated my thought process by bringing me closer to numbers.

DAIS, 2012 - Bengaluru
At a professional level, my first job in a major Healthcare Market Research & Consulting company allowed me to pick up the nuances of analyzing, interpreting and presenting data. I feel that experience really helped me evolve as now I enjoy numbers and find it very exciting to see the unseen! As a Marketing professional I strongly feel that in today's fast paced and changing environment one must develop the skills to comprehend data, derive key insights, locate pointers and translate them into actionable insights. If done well, this will lead to marketing effectiveness. Today, I got an opportunity to attend the Digital Analytics India Symposium 2012 (DAIS, 2012) at Bengaluru. This symposium was hosted by Cognizant and Adobe and brought together some of the eminent folks from the Digital Analytics industry together on one platform. The speakers were from Forrester Research, Adobe, Dell, etc. We were told that the attendance comprised of more than 300 delegates from 60 companies. Huge, I must say! A lot was discussed and shared and this post attempts to capture the takeaways.

DAIS, 2012 - Every Number Has a Story to Tell

What do Formula F1, Farmville, AngryBirds have in common? Think. Has it ever occurred to you what all a Formula F1 team does to get that 'edge'? A lot! It's not only engineering, maintenance and branding that goes into building a great car. Today, a lot of data is used to improvise a car's performance. What speed should they travel at? Where on the track should they turn? How the competitor car manages to drive faster? On the grand prix, every team's aim is one - to increase the straight lane driving time and to quickly get through with the turns which in turn allows you to drive faster. How does all of this happen? Through some smart brains working behind the scenes. Through Digital Intelligence. That's Joseph Stanhope (Follow @joestanhope), a Senior Analyst at Forrester Research with his awesome keynote for you!

Joe | Source: Maxymiser
Among all the presentations, there's absolutely no doubt that Joe's keynote with his exceptionally good presentation skills was an eye-opener to the current happenings in the world of interactive marketing. His keynote was on 'Welcome to the era of Digital Intelligence' where he discussed and emphasized on the role of digital intelligence as the next step in marketing analytics evolution. He adds that as Marketing reach grows, so too does the remit of digital analytics. Once a source of traffic reporting for website and marketing campaigns, digital analytics is at the center of the customer experience, serving as a critical hub to understand and forecast customer needs while optimizing customer experiences. Joe called this as 'digital intelligence'.

Forrester defines Digital Intelligence as:
The capture, management, and analysis of data to provide a holistic view of the digital customer experience that drives the measurement, optimization, and execution of marketing tactics and business strategies.
On his blog, Joe writes that digital intelligence is a 'framework' that covers the breadth of data, analysis techniques, and delivery of insights to support decision making in the complex digital environment in which we operate. It is the next natural evolutionary stage in web analytics, building on our hard-won experience and capabilities while putting us into position to succeed in the future.

Evolution of web analytics | Source: Joseph Stanhope's Blog, Forrester

Today the website is a part of the bigger digital ecosystem and as Marketers we need to account in all the components involved in a customer's digital journey during our analysis. I liked what Joe said (and mentioned on his blog too).

One challenge that most of the Digital Marketers face today is - how to go about it? Where to start? What to measure?, etc. There seems to be so much available, yet one finds it difficult to decide where to begin with? Don't worry, it happens with everyone and I liked that Joe touched this aspect in his keynote. He explained the importance of a well defined digital intelligence roadmap which divided the plan into five components. 

igital Intelligence Roadmap:
  1. Strategy
    • Customer experience
    • Business objectives
  2. Metrics & KPI
    • Metrics
    • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
    • Cross-channel interaction
    • Distribution
  3. Ownership
    • Skills
    • Organization
    • Governance
    • Privacy & Compliance
  4. Optimization
    • Segmentation
    • Targeting
    • Testing
    • Delivery
  5. Technology
    • Measurement & Analytics application
    • Data collection
    • Data hub
    • Integration

Personally, I felt Joe's keynote took me back to the Age of Empires game where you were required to connect the dots in order to view things more holistically. It's very important to see the bigger picture and align our analytic capabilities to optimize customer experiences. I will be following Joe's research closely to stay updated.

Apart from the keynote, we had some interesting presentations by Adobe and two panel discussions on 'What is the secret sauce to successful cross-channel analytics?' and 'Data-driven marketing & optimization - key tactics'. As the amount of knowledge shared was immense, I decided to make a story out of the live tweets during #DAIS2012 (you will find it below). We were told that there more than 1500 tweets for the event and it trended #1 in Bangalore, #2 in India and Chennai - pretty impressive for an Indian event. Here's a round-up of the takeaways:

  • Marketing and E-commerce groups tend to own the analytics group. Need to identify touch points and make smarter decisions
  • Digital intelligence is data agnostic, customer-centric, actionable, intelligent, distributed, and it should be at the right time
  • Digital intelligence evaluates complex user experiences against business goals
  • Digital intelligence is rear-mirror viewing (predictive analytics)
  • Social Media is more of advocacy than about conversion. Objective is awareness and it indirectly leads to conversion of a channel
  • Sentiment analytics is useful for social media impact
  • KPI's for different channels should be engagement and customer satisfaction
  • Cross-channel analytics - define the dimensions, look out for attributions
  • Multi-channel analytics integrates contextual analytics which helps in decision making
  • Analyse behavior to deliver better customer experiences online and improve the way they support the complex journey of customers

Someone asked me "Was the symposium worth attending?" I just relied "Why not? It's an eye-opener and enabled me to become aware of the various options one has as a Digital Marketer. This will definitely cultivate my thinking process and help me improve my approach towards digital analytics." DAIS 2012 allows me to look at data from a different perspective as every number has a story to tell! As Marketers, our challenge is to capture insights, convert them into better stories, and give our customers a better experience. I guess, this tweet sums it up:

You can also see the story on Storify at storify.com/arifkhan7/dais2012. And, if you want to stay connected, then do subscribe to my Storify page at storify.com/arifkhan7. I would like to hear your thoughts on digital intelligence, and how you use analytics for marketing effectiveness? If you have something more to add, then feel free to comment below.


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