One of World’s Leading and Well Known Authority on Web Analytics
1) What’s the latest trend you see in Online Analytics over the next year and next three to five years.
I strongly believe that web analytics is on its way to becoming business analytics. In the early days we were solely focused on analyzing clickstream data, but in recent years we’ve relaxed our definition of web analytics to include things like voice of customer
and offline outcome data and multivariate testing. More and more I hear people talking about how online customer interaction fits in with the overall goals of the business rather than as an isolated island of activity. In the future I think we’ll see less of a distinction
between traditional business intelligence and what we currently consider to be the separate field of web analytics.
2) Tell us how you came in this field of work, and what factors made
I entered the field of web analytics in 1999. Like many people who got their start at that time, it happened totally by chance. I had applied for a job as a web developer, but the interviewer thought I’d be perfect for another open position – as a web analyst. I took it just to see what it was like. Here it is a decade later and I’m still in web analytics – so I guess you could say it worked out.
Why is web analytics is a natural match for me? Well, I’ve always felt quite comfortable
serving as the "bridge" between technical people and business people. Having a deep understanding of what’s going on with the data is important, but being able to explain what it means to marketers is even more important. I love that challenge.
3) Most challenging and fun project you ever did (anonymous details)
I often look back fondly on a project I did a few years ago – it was really the perfect storm of fun projects. First of all I got to collaborate with a fellow who’s a really accomplished data analyst; he was a joy to work with and our skills were a great match. Second, the project had fairly tight time constraints, so we did very concentrated work for a couple of months and then it was done (as opposed to those un-fun projects that drag on and on with no conclusion). Third, I had unlimited access to full-detail web activity data for a large media site, so I could ask and answer any question, no matter how complex the query.
The project itself involved examining the behavior of first-time visitors to a variety of web properties, to see if we could draw conclusions about what made someone more or less likely to return to the site within a set period of time. We segmented the data in all kinds of ways, ran it through some neat data visualization tools, then drew conclusions and presented our findings to management. As a final deliverable we created a feed that was to be used as the input for a follow-on data mining project. In the end the business was able to gain new insight about how to increase visitor loyalty, and I got a fun project I could talk about in interviews.
4) Advice to fresh college graduates wanting to join online analytics
as a career- Positive Things, Challenges, Skill Requirements.
If you’re new to web analytics there’s a lot you can do to grow your skills even before you land that first job; here are 5 things you can do today:
* Keep up with web analytics blogs. Each blogger has his/her own unique take on the field, and it’s a good way to learn the lingo and the acronyms that we web analysts commonly use.
* Experiment with free tools. Get Google Analytics and test it out, ditto for Google Site Optimizer, ditto for any other tool you can get for free. While interviewers may still look for experience with a particular commercial tool, you will score bonus points for background
research with free tools.
* Go to Web Analytics Wednesday. This is the absolute best way to meet people in your local area who already do web analytics and can help you get your foot in the door.
* Join the Web Analytics Association. You’ll get access to webcasts and research and discounts, plus you can join the global group of volunteers who are actively working to further our profession.
* Finally, show enthusiasm! It’s not enough to want to get into this field just because there are a lot of open jobs – you have to actually demonstrate that you think the work is interesting.
5) Would you like to visit India for work/travel.
Absolutely! I’ve never been to India but it’s definitely on my wish
list. My parents attended a friend’s wedding in Delhi a few years ago
and they came back with so many good stories and pictures. Also, it
would be an honor to meet the Indian web analysts – like you, Ajay –
who I’ve gotten to know by email.
(Note- Ajay feels happy on the last line)