Joe Megibow’s 45% 45% 10% Analytics Blend

It is always a pleasure speaking with Joe Megibow, Chief Digital Officer at American Eagle Outfitters and member of the Board of Directors of the Digital Analytics Association. But this time, it was recorded for posterity.

Joe MegibowJoe spent an hour with me as part of the DAA’s Thought Leader Conversations and, if you’re a DAA member, you can hear the whole thing in the Community Library as soon as it’s posted (along with previous interviews with other Thought Leaders).

While chatting with Joe is always fascinating, this time he said something that struck a cord and I felt was worthy of drawing out and drilling down.

At one point, I was asking Joe about data discovery. How does one make time for analysts to do the creative work on top of their daily grind so that those wild, orthogonal insights have a place to take seed and grow? How do you create a space where analysts can exercise their innate curiosity, yearning to breathe free?

Joe said there are three things an analytics team should be doing and should focus on the first two almost half the time each: Service and Capabilities.

ServicesThe Service side of analytics is acting as the Answer Man: reproducing routine reporting, begetting boring benchmarks, designing digital dashboards and acquiescing to ad-hoc queries from all and sundry.

Performing these tasks is predicated on the capture, cleansing, integration and general care and feeding of a growing variety of data feeds. These are the everyday chores of making bricks, moving bricks and laying bricks to build things others feel are necessary.

In Joe’s world, this should take up about 45% of the team’s time and energy. It’s the basic output expected by the rest of the organization and the most rudimentary measure to evaluate the value analytics team.

The Capabilities function is slightly more creative; it’s giving some thought to what might be better than bricks. Knowing what the organization expects when they say, “Let’s do the numbers,” the analytics team should be looking for ways those numbers can be easier, better and faster to create and deliver.

Should we buy a new tool for mobile analytics or build one? Would it be better to more tightly integrate the data we have or spend those resources on acquiring a new data feed from the marketplace? Will business decision makers be better served if we learn how to use a new method/technology or should we hire a full time employee or a consultant to come up to speed faster?

Building business capability is another area Joe feels should occupy 45% of the analytics team’s endeavors.

And the final 10%? The fun part: discovery. Data discovery is the most beloved and often most breakthrough-generating assignment. This is where data people love to live.

Knowing that the data is solid and trustworthy, knowing that the organization has the reports and dashboards they need to simply get the job done, and knowing that the technology is working correctly, and knowing that they have a plan for improving the proficiency of their tools, techniques and talent, the digital analyst can now take a deep breath, lean back, stare at the ceiling and say, “I wonder….” before diving back into the data, fingers flying and curiosity running wild.

45%, 45% and 10%. Think of it as protein, vegetables and dessert.

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