The digital analytics community has one very strong common attribute: We’re here to help each other.
Some industries are competitive, some frenetic and some passive aggressive. But members of the digital analytics profession have always exhibited an attribute one might call supportive or helpful.
I believe this character trait was imprinted on the digital analytics industry through two means: we were all in the same boat, and specific individuals’ personalities were adopted by the wider collective.
We’re All in this Together
I started the eMetrics Summit in 2002 for the same reason I ran a Marketing on the Internet seminar series in 1994; people needed to hear about the wonderful opportunities these technologies were bringing to marketing.
I had written a white paper called E-Metrics Business Metrics For The New Economy with Matt Cutler and was intent on getting people to use analytics to make the whole online user experience better. If “best practices” and “de facto standards” were letting us down, maybe hard numbers could shine a light on improving the user interface and making websites more human-compatible.
The first eMetrics Summit in 2002 was very exciting. Everybody was thrilled to discover that they were not the only ones who understood the language and the possibilities and the difficulties.
Back at the office, our enthusiasm was met with patronizing but blank smiles and our concerns were met with non-comprehension.
On the other hand, the eMetrics Summit was a whole room full of people who shared the same hopes and fears and battled the same dragons. We had finally found kindred spirits.
We realized immediately that nobody in the room had any answers, so we were drawn to the people who had the best questions.
How do you explain the inconsistency in the numbers to senior managers who expected us to be accountants yet had never actually purchased anything online themselves?
What can log file analysis reveal that page tagging does not?
Is packet sniffing ethical?
Should this discipline report to Marketing or IT or Ops or Finance?
So, we had two things: lots of questions and each other. It turned out that “each other” was a great source of information and a helping hand.
But mostly, it was all about the people. Those who were attracted to the digital analytics space were so happy to have company, they would do anything to help people get smarter … so they would have more and better company.
There were consultants who were more than willing to share their knowledge. People like Mark Gibbs Adam Greco, Mike Grehan, Neil Mason, Carey Wilkins and Kristin Zhivago went out of their way to let people know what they knew through blogging, book writing and public speaking.
Bryan Eisenberg and Andrew Edwards called me and insisted that we start the DAA immediately.
Eric Peterson launched an online forum, founded an open-source, distributed event called Web Analytics Wednesday and created the Analysis Exchange where expert mentors could team up with the new kids on the block and offer free services to non-profits.
Some were practitioners who were just far enough ahead of the rest to show the world what was possible. We learned a metric boatload from the likes of Shari Cleary, Jim Humphrys, Ross Jenkins, Alex Langshur, Dylan Lewis, Bob Page, Seth Romanow, Rachel Scotto, Paul Strupp and April Wilson.
Others like Raquel Collins, Andrea Hadley and Jim Novo worked together to create amazing DAA educational offerings.
Those working on the vendor side listened very closely to practitioners and consultants alike to improve the tools of the trade. A tip of the hat is due to Akin Arikan, Brett Crosby, Greg Drew, Eric Feinberg, Josh James, Ronny Kohavi, John Marshall, Rand Schulman, Olivier Silvestre and John Squire – and many more.
There are those who have launched other digital analytics events like Gary Angel with X-Change (which transmogrified into DA HUB by Matthias Bettag), Peter O’Neill and his MeasureCamp and MeasureBowling, Eric Peterson with ACCELERATE and Brooks Bell with Click Summit.
And all of us are indebted to Avinash Kaushik for his work on all sides of the industry and for his blog, Occam’s Razor.
When people extol the virtues of the digital analytics profession and how welcomed they felt, they always mention how helpful everybody is and how they can always get help when they need it – from the DAA Member Open Forum, from bloggers and from people they meet at the eMetrics Summit – I realize that this attribute was baked into the industry from the start.
And it makes me smile.