Greet­ings every­one! It’s offi­cial – my office has become an alu­minum tube at 37,000 feet as I travel the global pre­sent­ing at our inter­na­tional Omni­ture Sum­mits. Since our Salt Lake City Sum­mit in early March, I’ve been down to Syd­ney, over to Paris, and just this past week up to Copen­hagen. This Tues­day, April 22nd is our Lon­don Sum­mit, fol­lowed by Munich on Tues­day, April 29th. It sounds exhaust­ing, but it’s actu­ally been a won­der­ful expe­ri­ence meet­ing with hun­dreds of ana­lyt­ics peo­ple all over the world. In this blog post, I wanted to share some of my obser­va­tions from the road, and also pro­vide some addi­tional per­spec­tive on why ana­lyt­ics really is easy.

First off, wow! We had over 2,200 atten­dees at the Salt Lake City Sum­mit, and nearly that many across our Sum­mits in Aus­tralia and Europe so far. It’s unlike any­thing I’ve seen in the ana­lyt­ics world. In Salt Lake, we had com­pa­nies with 5, 10 – even 20 peo­ple attend­ing the Sum­mit. All of these folks with a stake in ana­lyt­ics and opti­miz­ing their busi­ness. It was incredible.

Inter­na­tion­ally it’s been a bit dif­fer­ent. I haven’t seen the large teams that I saw in the US, but I see one-person armies with con­sid­er­ably more respon­si­bil­ity and drive than their US coun­ter­parts. In some respects, it is almost like the inter­na­tional folks are try­ing to do as much with one per­son as the US teams are doing with many. Because of the prac­ti­cal lim­i­ta­tions of one per­son, I’ve noticed many inter­na­tional cus­tomers are focus­ing on 3–5 major areas they believe can make a mas­sive dif­fer­ence, rather than 20–40 dif­fer­ent ana­lyt­ics ini­tia­tives that can sit on a US customer’s agenda. Of course, I’m gen­er­al­iz­ing, but it’s been fairly con­sis­tent across the dif­fer­ence cities so I think it’s a war­ranted observation.

Another obser­va­tion is the inter­est in auto­mated opti­miza­tion, namely Omni­ture Test and Tar­get. I can’t even recall how many con­ver­sa­tions I’ve had about the plat­form and the busi­ness value it can bring to an orga­ni­za­tion. Per­haps the inter­est has been so strong because of my first point – cus­tomers see not only the ROI poten­tial of test­ing and tar­get­ing, but equally that they can auto­mate it and lever­age their already scarce resources. In any case, the inter­est has been palat­able and I’m look­ing for­ward to talk­ing more about it in Lon­don and Munich.

Cus­tomers are also look­ing to plug more “stuff” into their ana­lyt­ics plat­form. This can be any­thing from part­ner inte­gra­tions like email, search, and sales force automa­tion to data ware­houses and off-line trans­ac­tions. I’m really quite sur­prised how inno­v­a­tive some of these ini­tia­tives are, and how for the most part, peo­ple have retained their focus on the under­ly­ing busi­ness ques­tion. The good news is that our Gen­e­sis net­work con­tin­ues to expand to sup­port many of these part­ners and I’m look­ing for­ward to the fruits of these ini­tia­tives in the com­ing weeks and months.

Lastly, ana­lyt­ics is easy. This point has been under­scored in count­less con­ver­sa­tions I’ve had on the road. I know there’s a blog­ger float­ing out there in the indus­try that likes to argue this point, and that’s per­fectly OK with me. He’s try­ing to make a liv­ing based on the notion of ana­lyt­ics being com­plex so what else would you expect? Iron­i­cally, Omni­ture Con­sult­ing rep­re­sents one of the largest strate­gic con­sul­tan­cies for ana­lyt­ics in the world — and if any­thing, you’d think I would want to say ana­lyt­ics is hard so we could like­wise try to ben­e­fit from this per­ceived complexity.

But I don’t. Because it’s not. In fact, our team is suc­cess­ful because we deliver mea­sur­able value to cus­tomers. That’s it. While on the road, I’ve met with cus­tomers who’ve iden­ti­fied ROI oppor­tu­ni­ties in 30 sec­onds from ana­lyt­ics. I’ve also met with cus­tomers that want to learn how to achieve sim­i­lar results. Not because they are com­plex – but sim­ply because they don’t know how to do it. They sim­ply haven’t been taught. And that’s a true gap in the indus­try that I have seen every­where I go. Com­ments through­out the web, even in response to this blog­ger, under­score the point. Peo­ple want to know how to be successful…they want to learn to drive…does it mean dri­ving is com­plex? I think not. It just needs to be taught. It’s short­sighted to say ana­lyt­ics is hard just because some peo­ple don’t know how to do it. There is an edu­ca­tion gap, not a com­plex­ity gap. If I can sit with a cus­tomer and show them how to derive mil­lions of dol­lars in value in 2–4 min­utes, teach­ing them to be self-sufficient and repeat this value-based opti­miza­tion on their own, how can that be complex?

To be fair, I com­pletely under­stand it’s not always easy to get peo­ple to change their behav­ior in response to ana­lyt­ics. In other words, it can take weeks, months, or even years for a com­pany to change its behav­ior based on an ana­lyt­i­cal insight. I fully appre­ci­ate that, I’ve lived through it and even left a com­pany for this very rea­son. But I’ve also worked at a com­pany that would change the home­page within hours of observ­ing a crit­i­cal oppor­tu­nity for improve­ment. Does that mean ana­lyt­ics are hard? Absolutely not. It means chang­ing human behav­ior and per­cep­tion can be hard, and that’s build into our DNA…if you’re for­tu­nate, you’ll find your­self at an orga­ni­za­tion that is adept at change and improve­ment, or even a cul­ture like the Japan­ese that are mani­a­cally focused on improve­ment. Or you can find your­self in a sit­u­a­tion where peo­ple are mas­sively fear­ful of change, and you need to fig­ure how you can build cred­i­bil­ity and affect change in this envi­ron­ment. Those are chal­lenges, yes, but they do not mean that ana­lyt­ics is hard.

So get out there, take action on your data, and improve your busi­ness with ana­lyt­ics. It’s easy. And if you think it’s hard, send me an email, call me on the phone – what­ever you pre­fer – and we can train you and show you how easy it can be.