Refocusing on a Solid Foundation
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.