The tip is an expanded selection from the free eBook Analytics Consulting Quick Tips: Retail Holiday 2013

One of the keys to optimum use of Ad Hoc Analysis (formerly Discover) is to step away from single reports. Ad Hoc Analysis should spark multiple tabs and workspaces that encompass an entire project. Here are five tips to encourage deep exploration and examination in Ad Hoc Analysis.

1. Leverage many segments at once: A critical component within Ad Hoc Analysis is the ability to layer and set side-by-side multiple segments. Work with multiple segments and fine tune to uncover insights by comparison and trend views.






2. Explore using multiple breakdowns: Ad Hoc Analysis has the ability to drill down to several correlation levels across mixed variable types. Take full advantage of this feature and run different checks against your data series down several levels.







3. Don’t be afraid to copy your entire Workspace and start over: One of the best features of Ad Hoc Analysis is the easy copy feature which allows for all existing work to be set within a fresh new workspace. This feature makes it fast to iterate and try new data manipulations without concern for maintaining your original base data set.






4. Use the ‘Dimensions’ in the Segment Builder window to quickly build multi-condition segments: One of the fastest ways to create multi-dimension segments is through multi-selection within a dimension and then drag and drop action into the segment definition pane.








5. Use the ‘Fallout Report’ to start new sequential segments: A great way to auto-build sequential segments in a simplified visual approach is use of the built-in ‘Create Segment’ button in the ‘Fallout Report’. Use this option to explore your fallout visitor or visit segment in further detail across reports.





The Takeaway:
You should approach Ad Hoc Analysis with a different mindset and intent than regular report pulls. Push your project past a specific single data report series through segmentation, application of multiple dimensions, and efficient workspace flow.

Brian Au is a con­sul­tant in Adobe Con­sult­ing, focused on dig­i­tal strat­egy, ana­lyt­ics & opti­miza­tion for retail, travel & high tech clients. He tweets at @Bri­anAu.