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.