In the world of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing we tend to be myopi­cally focused on the mar­ket­ing while for­get­ting the tech­nol­ogy that got us here.  Often, we talk a good game about opti­miza­tion and lift while for­get­ting that it’s the under­ly­ing soft­ware automa­tion that is vital. We love gad­gets, but in the world of SaaS we too often see the geek who writes the code or deploys the tags as the road­block. Yet the key to the suc­cess of any tech­nol­ogy, no mat­ter how sim­ple or com­plex is a devel­oper who under­stands the code base – one who can see the under­ly­ing soft­ware archi­tec­ture, detect the nec­es­sary pat­tern, and deploy the change.

I love the game of Jenga. It’s a game build­ing a higher and taller struc­ture by steal­ing from the sta­bil­ity of that very same struc­ture.  Even­tu­ally the tower col­lapses and often its the slight­est move­ment that pushes it over. I think the game of Jenga is a good metaphor for what our cus­tomers (and in turn we) cre­ate when we push for rapid changes, updates in code or new prod­uct installs with­out fully real­iz­ing the scope of the change and what that addi­tion mean to the plat­form. Obvi­ously we steal resources, but more impor­tantly we add another tag or inte­gra­tion to a plat­form that some­times seems cob­bled together at best.  We place pres­sure on resources to deliver and then aren’t sur­prised when they don’t.

Much has been writ­ten over the years about the huge time drain to main­tain and enhance large soft­ware projects.  In grad­u­ate school we talked about the mythic 10 lines of code a devel­oper can write a day.  The agile method is one of the most suc­cess­ful meth­ods of soft­ware devel­op­ment.  It focuses on small incre­men­tal enhance­ments. Set­ting small gains to be made over a short window.

I am often times amazed by Web sites that receive mil­lions of page views and vis­its per day but lack a good plat­form for long-term suc­cess. Tech­nol­ogy is, after all, about repeata­bil­ity and porta­bil­ity of func­tion­al­ity – yet we rip out and code with­out much regard. This is not to say that some cus­tomers don’t invest in the sus­tain­abil­ity of their plat­form.  Many do, but too many under pres­sure to move quickly steal from what may already be a tot­ter­ing foundation.

Any sys­tem is always under some stress and its orga­ni­za­tions try to mit­i­gate that stress through solid design and thor­ough test­ing. Visu­ally it’s easy to tell if some­thing doesn’t work. If I can’t log in or pur­chase a prod­uct, some­thing is clearly wrong. How­ever, if the wrong data is being col­lected it could lead to bad deci­sions and lack of con­fi­dence in the over­all mar­ket­ing strat­egy. I believe we need ele­vate the impor­tance of solid QA around data col­lec­tion. I like to call it data con­fi­dence assur­ance.

Good data is prob­a­bly the most valu­able asset of orga­ni­za­tion.  Under­stand­ing who my cus­tomers are and what they like to buy or the con­tent they like to con­sume is of utmost impor­tance so why then do we not place a higher invest­ment in mak­ing sure that data is accu­rate?  Using tools like anom­aly detec­tion and test­ing scripts enter­prises could move beyond the seat of the pants data con­fi­dence par­a­digm to some­thing more mature and agile.