At the beginning of the month, Tim Wilson and I had an opportunity to once again visit Hungary and attend the Superweek Analytics Conference. Once again, we were delighted with the overall conference setup, the people, the content, and the chance to once again record our podcast in front of a live audience. Here are some highlights for me.
The Global Data Protection Regulations that will start being enforced in May 2018 were a big topic this year. There is much to consider with these regulations but what was very interesting to me was discovering that I was approaching the whole concept with a different philosophical POV than many Europeans. While I like the idea of GDPR, in the context of creating an even playing field between the individual and the companies that would seek to benefit from their data, I think of it as a marketplace concept. If a company provides me a good or service that provides value to me, then I am fine with their collection of data. The European view is more about the protection of a fundamental human right without a marketplace component. It gave me a lot to consider just in terms of the philosophical underpinnings of a set of regulations that will undoubtedly make their way to the USA in some form in the years to come.
Machine Learning and AI
So much is happening in our space to embrace machine learning and AI. One thing that is definitely still true is that there is still a lot more talk than action, but that being said many talks at Superweek showcased some really cool learnings and accomplishments. It is no longer out of anyone’s reach to apply machine learning to the problems of their business, and while there is nothing remotely standard, it is increasingly accessible in ways that I am really excited about.
Also, an insight that Matt Gershoff shared in his talk, allowed me to recontextualize the quote “All models are broken, but some are useful.” I think the emphasis so often is placed on the fact that all are broken, instead of on the fact that some are useful. I am excited to help our clients glean value from the useful models this next year.
The other major takeaway for me was from Tim Wilson’s talk on statistical thinking. One of the central tenets of statistical thinking is embracing uncertainty. We are fighting an uphill battle in digital because vendors often promise us certainty, and frankly sometimes so do us practitioners. But there are larger and larger costs to reducing uncertainty, and great analysis is about hitting that sweet spot between a great decision and the incremental cost to reduce uncertainty further.
I have long been somewhat of a curmudgeon when it comes to marketing attribution in digital. Typically, it worked out as long on cost, and short on any persistent value gain. What I saw at Superweek were numerous talks that were taking a much more pragmatic approach, and one that I can get excited about. So in 2018, I am allowing a shift in my thinking as I learn more and consider what the next evolutionary step in attribution can provide.
The Digital Analytics Power Hour
This trip to Hungary also was the first time all three hosts of the podcast were able to meet in person. It was so great getting to know Moe, and just cemented how lucky we are to have her as a co-host on the show. We also recorded a podcast there. You can listen to it here. Also, the fine folks at Superweek have created a Youtube video that you can watch as well.
I may be the only person who gets excited walking away from a conference with more questions than answers, but maybe I have just learned to embrace the uncertainty.
If you haven’t quite learned to embrace the uncertainty, don’t be afraid! Feel free to reach out to us for a little guidance. We’re here to help.