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Eric Peterson
Works at Web Analytics Demystified
Attended Oregon State University
Lived in Portland Oregon
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Eric Peterson

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We had a small issue with the links above. You can find t he conference information at:

http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com/accelerate/

and training information at:

http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com/accelerate/training-2013.asp

Thanks Google for mentioning us!
ACCELERATE is an opportunity to learn from the best in the industry in a concise and efficient format. Speakers from FedEx, Nestle Purina, Wells Fargo, Best Buy, Home Depot, many others will be sharing “Ten Tips in Twenty Minutes” on a wide range of digital analytics and marketing optimization ...
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I love the directly proportional relationship in Portland between great weather and people showing up at the gym to work out. Inverse relationship. 
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Trying Google+ again thanks to a much improved iPhone app. If you can see this what is your favorite thing about Google+ and how are you using it differently than Twitter and Facebook?
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dodgy -- but OK better than skype
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Are you following Web Analytics Demystified in Google+ yet? If not, you should! We are using the platform as an extension of our blogs and work in the web analytics community.
Web Analytics Consulting and Strategic Analysis Services from the Global Leader in Web Analytics Consulting
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Eric Peterson

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Web Analytics Demystified brand and community page in Google+. Won't you circle us?
Web Analytics Consulting and Strategic Analysis Services from the Global Leader in Web Analytics Consulting
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The next event that I'm responsible for that doesn't have a speaker is out in Jan (date TBA) - I may well nudge you a little closer to the time.

The actual next event is on the 5th Oct where +Clancy Childs has agreed to come and say something for us. (I'll do a proper announcement tomorrow) - register via http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com/wednesday/list.asp?event_city=London. (clever full circle back to +Eric Peterson there)
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Eric Peterson

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Our lizard Dave, a fine iguana if ever there was one!
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We are starting to plan for ACCELERATE Boston on October 24th and wanted to get your feedback on the topics we should cover. Here is the list ... what do you think is missing and what would you LOVE to hear about?


Mobile Analytics
Multichannel Analytics
Tools Every Analyst Should Know About
Non-Retail Analytics
Testing
Vendor Relationship Management
Building Analytics Teams
Analytics Centers of Excellence
Dashboards
Big Data
Hiring
Managing Analytics Product Suites/Portfolios
Campaign Analytics
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The essential components of a web analysts (or digital tester's) library - that would be a very good career building item to cover.
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Added more information about our upcoming ACCELERATE conference in San Francisco including detail about where folks are flying in from and where participants work.
Web Analytics Consulting and Strategic Analysis Services from the Global Leader in Web Analytics Consulting
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Here's a question for those of you who manage/measure web sites: How important is performance and performance optimization?

There has been lots published by vendors in the past year but I'm interested in the types of conversations that are happening internally on the subject of site performance and performance optimization.

For example, are you considering a Tag Management System (TMS) primarily because it will improve site delivery? Or have you made changes in your content delivery strategy recently?

If you're comfortable sharing here, great. If not, email me (eric dot peterson at gmail.com is fine) and we can arrange a time to talk.
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I havent seen a dedicated TMS for this purpose yet but performance optimisation is done using existing solutions that also provide performance metrics (internal server/web measurement tools and even web analytics tools)
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+Robert Scoble do you, or any of you out there, have a suggestion for a video hosting platform that would also handle subscriptions and billing? A friend has asked and I am at a loss --- she has looked at Brainshark and MediaPass but is still looking for solutions.

I know you're busy, Robert, but I also know that you know everyone and will have the answer (and are always on Google+)

Thanks!
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Iam. Mexican. Nace mete you.
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The Myth of the "Data Driven" Business


You may have noticed I have been pretty quiet in my blog lately aside from sharing news about our ACCELERATE event in San Francisco in November. It’s partially because honestly I’ve been swamped with new clients, existing work, and the never-ending effort to be a good husband, dad, and friend in the midst of Demystifying web analytics …

But being busy is no excuse to stop sharing ideas and encouraging conversation so let’s dive into something that has increasingly become a pet-peeve of mine: the notion leveraging web analytics to create a “data-driven” business.

I’m sure I have used this phrase in the past in an effort to describe the transformation that companies need to go through in the digital world, relying less on “gut feel” and more on cold, hard data to guide business decision making. Hell, a lot of smart of people have, including Omniture’s Brent Dykes and Google Analytics Evangelist Avinash Kaushik who has gone so far as to describe creating a data-driven culture as the “holiest of holy grails.”

Becoming “data driven” is the way to silence the HIPPO and to more firmly establish the value of our collective investments in digital measurement, analysis, and optimization technology. It sounds great, except for one thing:

A “data-driven business” would be doomed to fail.

I think that perhaps what people mean when they talk about being “data-driven” is the need for a heightened awareness of the numerous source of data and information we have available in the digital world, enough so that we are able to take advantage of these sources to create insights and make recommendations. On this point I agree — better use of available data in the decision making process is an awesome thing indeed.

My concern arises from the idea that any business of even moderate size and complexity can be truly “driven” by data. I think the right word is “informed” and what we are collectively trying to create is “increasingly data-informed and data-aware businesses and business people” who integrate the wide array of knowledge we can generate about digital consumers into the traditional decisioning process. The end-goal of this integration is more agile, responsive, and intelligent businesses that are better able to compete in a rapidly changing business environment.

Perhaps this is mere semantics — you say “potato” I say “tuberous rhizome” — but given the sheer number of consultants, vendors, and practitioners talking about creating, powering, and working in the mythical “data-driven business” I have started to worry that we’re about to shoot ourselves in the collective foot. We (meaning the web analytics industry as a whole) have done this before, first by claiming that web analytics was easy, then by insisting that cookies were harmless … and personally I’d prefer we avoid yet another self-imposed crisis of credibility if possible.

And while this may be semantics, I do disagree with Brent Dykes assertion that in the absence of carrot-and-stick accountability that web analytics breaks down and fails to create any benefit within the business, although I do understand fully where Mr. Dykes is coming from. I simply have not seen nearly enough evidence that eschewing the type of business acumen, experience, and awareness that is the very heart-and-soul of every successful business in favor of a “by the numbers” approach creates the type of result that the “data-driven” school seems to be evangelizing for.

What I do see in our best clients and those rare, transcendent organizations that truly understand the relationship between people, process, and technology — and are able to leverage that knowledge to inform their overarching business strategy — is a very healthy blend of data and business knowledge, each applied judiciously based on the challenge at hand. Smart business leaders leveraging insights and recommendations made by a trusted analytics organization — not automatons pulling levers based on a hit count, p-value, or conversion rate.

Kishore Swaminathan, Accenture’s chief scientist, in his discussion on “What the C-suite should know about analytics” outlines how an over-dependence on data can lead to “analysis-paralysis”, stating:

“Data is a double-edged sword. When properly used, it can lead to sound and well-informed decisions. When improperly used, the same data can lead not only to poor decisions but to poor decisions made with high confidence that, in turn, could lead to actions that could be erroneous and expensive.”

Success with web analytics and optimization requires a balance, and business leaders who will be successful analytical competitors in the future will need to develop a top-down strategy to govern how their businesses will leverage both digitally-generated insights and the collective know-how of their organizations. Conversely, being “driven” implies imbalance and over-correction — going out of your way to devalue experience, ignore process, and eschew established governance in favor of a new, entirely metrics-powered approach towards decision making.

You can do this, but to Swaminathan’s point, what if the numbers you’re using are wrong?

I think that creating a “data informed” business is a huge victory and for most companies a major step in the right direction. What’s more, working to create a “data informed” business shows respect for the hard work, commitment, and passion your employees have for their jobs and your company and products.

Rather than walk in and “embarrass the boss” with your profound and amazing knowledge of customer interactions, you can actively work with your management team by providing insights and recommendations that reflect your knowledge of how the entire business works, not just your amazing talent as web analytics implementer (or analyst, whatever …)

But I digress.

I’m interested in your collective thoughts here people. Am I over-reaching after a blogging hiatus and unnecessarily sniping in hopes of an early Fall dust-up in Google+? Or have you had the same thoughts and/or concerns, that by insisting that everyone needs to do exactly what the data tells them that we risk alienating (again) the very consumers of our efforts? Do you work at a truly “data driven” business and do what the numbers tell you each and every time? Or are you working to create a practice where otherwise smart, hard-working, and passionate marketers, merchandisers, and business leaders can benefit from the type of information and insights you are uniquely able to provide as a digital measurement, analysis, and optimization specialist?

While you consider your response I’ll leave you with a story that has shaped some of my thinking about web analytics over my career. Years ago my good friend Shari Cleary brought me into CBS News in New York to train her editorial team on Hitbox (yeah, Hitbox, I told you it was years ago!) Most of my clients at the time were “new school” but not these guys — they were hardcore news editors from the TV side of the business who had been tasked with making digital news work.

I talked and talked and talked about how powerful Hitbox was and how real-time analytics was going to power the content they put out there in the world. The editors were polite and showed real interest in the training until at one point the oldest and most grizzled of the group stopped me.

“Son, we’re not going to let the data make the decisions for us regarding editorial content,” he said with all sincerity. I was, of course, shocked to hear this — I mean, hell, that is what Hitbox was for! Figuring out which stories generated page views and which needed to be rolled off the page into obscurity.

“Umm, why is that?” I asked, figuring he’d lay into me about the inaccuracy of the system or how painful it was to use Hitbox …

“Because if we let the data drive editorial, all you will read about at CBS News is Paris Hilton’s breasts and Lindsay Lohan’s drinking problem.”

Needless to say, I stopped talking about real-time, data-driven changes to editorial content.

As always I welcome your comments, criticism, and feedback.
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I can appreciate your distinctions between "data driven" and "data informed". I agree that our relationship to data should not become rigid and mechanical. I don't think insight and innovation can ever be reduced to a policy or process flow.

I come at the "data driven" business, not from an analytics perspective, but from a data governance perspective. When I talk about being data driven with my clients, my real hope is to take a little of the gamble out of executives making gut decisions and introduce a little more "management by fact".

At the same time, it is important for businesses to recognize that data driven means that the data has to be of high quality, well understood, and fit-for-use. There has to be a drive to more fully understand and improve the data quality.

I see these 2 characteristics: management by fact and concern for data quality, as being key differentiators for "data driven" businesses.
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Web analytics and digital marketing optimization consultant, author, analyst, thought-leader, analytics developer.
Employment
  • Web Analytics Demystified
    Founder, 2007 - present
  • Visual Sciences Inc
    Vice President, Strategic Consulting, 2005 - 2007
  • JupiterResearch
    Senior Analyst, 2003 - 2005
  • WebSideStory
    Director, Professional Services, 2001 - 2003
  • WebCriteria
    Senior Webmaster, 2000 - 2001
  • WebTrends
    Senior Webmaster, 1998 - 199
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Portland Oregon - San Diego - Geneva, IL - Minneapolis
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Long-time member of the web analytics, digital measurement and optimization community. Blogger at Web Analytics Demystified, consultant, author, and developer behind twitter analytics service Twitalyzer.
Education
  • Oregon State University
    M. Sc., Botany, 1995 - 1998
  • Oregon State University
    B. Sc., Botany and Plant Pathhology
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Steve, Art, and the entire team at RTGT made the buying process a delight. Steve especially went out of his way to make sure I was comfortable with my purchase, bringing the car to PIR to test drive (non-street car) and then delivering the car directly to me. I suspect every high-end car buyer in Portland already knows this, but the team at Ron Tonkin Gran Turismo is the real deal.
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