eMetrics Summit Interview Series: Shiyi Pickrell at Microsoft

In anticipation of her presentation at eMetrics Summit in San Francisco, April 3-6, 2016, we asked Shiyi Pickrell, Ph.D., Senior Manager Digital Analytics at Microsoft, a few questions about pursuing digital marketing efficiency and effectiveness. Check out her interview in relation to her eMetrics Summit presentation entitled, From Web Analytics to Actionable Insights and Business Impacts.

Q: Where does digital analytics sit in your organization and how does it interface with your business units?

A: Microsoft is a huge organization, which contains many line businesses. Each line business, such as Office and Windows devices, has its own digital analytics support team, which only focuses on Office customer’s experience on Office sites. MSCOM Analytics, the group I am in, is in a unique position where we collect all on-network data, analyze the Microsoft customer journey regardless of what products they are interested in, and use the intelligence to improve the overall experience on microsoft.com.  Shiyi Pickerll

Q: What’s the most valuable thing you learned in 2015? What’s the most important goal/trend for digital analysts to keep in mind as they look ahead to 2016?

A: If we think of “data driven” vs. “data informed,” nobody wants to stick his or her neck out for a business goal set by others. In a data driven culture, people get defensive and overspend energy on questioning data sources and methodology. Data-informed cultures aren’t slaves to the data. People acknowledge and live with diversified data and views, and focus their effort on opportunities. In 2016, it is time to dial back the “data driven” and think of more “data informed.”

Q: What’s the latest analytics method/process/tool set that you have implemented and what advice would you give others?

A: In 2015, MSCOM Analytics team implemented Microsoft Power BI. By applying Power BI technology to the web data, the team turned the analysis into scalable and actionable reporting, and federated it to stakeholders much faster. The marketing and advertising teams can now look at summarized reports, ask the data a range of questions, and get insights in seconds.

Q: What do you wish you could tell your five-years-ago self about this industry?

A: Short answer would be “amazing and love it!” Five years ago, I was in the middle of my MBA program. Looking back, many MBA programs put students into a traditional finance, or marketing, or supply chain track. Back then, the digital marketing and analytics space was novel to many university faculties. I’d wish that MBA programs would offer more classes in SEO, online marketing, web analytics, social media, and paid advertisement subject areas.

Q: Sneak preview: Please tell us a take-away that you will provide during your talk at the eMetrics Summit.

A: Analytics is not just crunching numbers. It is more about telling a story. So sharpen your story telling skills. One of my secrets of telling a good story is to imagine I am giving a talk in front of my 80-year-old mother-in-law and my 8-year-old son. If I can make them understand and enjoy it, so will most people.


Don’t miss Shiyi’s presentation, From Web Analytics to Actionable Insights and Business Impacts, at eMetrics Summit, on Monday, April 4, 2016 from 1:30 to 2:15 pm. Click here to register for attendance.

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