Know Your Tool!

by Feb 17, 2020

In the last post of this blog series on being success­ful with digital analyt­ics, I showed how you could use the newly created require­ments driven SDR to iden­tify the devel­op­ment work needed to address your highest prior­ity require­ments. Many of those items will require new data points to be added to your imple­men­ta­tion. In this post and the next one, I will offer some advice in adding new items to your exist­ing imple­men­ta­tion.

While I have been a consul­tant in the area of digital analyt­ics, one of the things I have learned is that most orga­ni­za­tions don’t imple­ment things correctly in their analyt­ics tool. The problem stems from the fact that imple­men­ta­tions are primar­ily driven by 1–2 people within an orga­ni­za­tion or from outside consul­tan­cies. Unfor­tu­nately, there are very few estab­lished best prac­tices on how to trans­late busi­ness require­ments to analyt­ics tools. For example, if I asked five differ­ent people of varying levels of exper­tise in Adobe or Google Analyt­ics how to tag on-site search track­ing, I would likely get at least four differ­ent tool-based solu­tion archi­tec­tural approaches. This is compounded even further when taken to the next step of deter­min­ing how to imple­ment the tool-based solu­tion in code, data layers and website events.

In general, if I am working with someone who has been part of many Adobe or Google Analyt­ics imple­men­ta­tions, the odds go up that the solu­tion will be viable, but at most orga­ni­za­tions, the people archi­tect­ing the solu­tion have only been part of their own imple­men­ta­tion or likely very few. This problem is exac­er­bated by the fact that many orga­ni­za­tions haven’t invested enough time and money into learn­ing how to imple­ment the tool in which they have invested a large portion of their analyt­ics budget.

I saw this often in my “Wolf” role at Omni­ture. As mentioned in the inau­gural post of this series, I often saw orga­ni­za­tions blame the tool for their prob­lems, when, in fact, the problem was their usage of the tool. There is a story about this that I often tell when present­ing at confer­ences. I was once in New York City at a large Omni­ture customer who berated me for about an hour about how all of their prob­lems were due to the tool. In a rare moment of me losing my cool, I asked this client to get the person who knew the Omni­ture product the best to come to the confer­ence room. They grabbed their main devel­op­ment archi­tect and I threw down a chal­lenge to the guy. I took out my check­book (we still used those back then!) and offered him $5,000 from my bank account if he could tell me the best way to imple­ment three differ­ent scenar­ios I would provide. But the catch was that he (or his company) would have to pay me the same $5,000 if he didn’t know how to provide the solu­tion. The look on this poor guy’s face was price­less as he slug­gishly declined to partake in my bet. I then asked the company how it could be possi­ble that they had spent over two-million dollars on Omni­ture tools over the past few years, but didn’t have anyone who knew the tool well enough to take on a rela­tively simple chal­lenge?

If your orga­ni­za­tion doesn’t take the time to fully under­stand the ins and outs of your digital analyt­ics tool, it runs the risk of wasting all of the hard work you have put into iden­ti­fy­ing your busi­ness require­ments and earning the trust of your stake­hold­ers. If you don’t collect the right data, you can some­times do more harm than good by sharing data that is inac­cu­rate. While you can rely on outside consul­tants for help at times, you still need to have people within your orga­ni­za­tion who know the right way to trans­late busi­ness require­ments into your chosen analyt­ics tool.

Action Items

Your task for this post is to take some time to assess your current inter­nal level of tool imple­men­ta­tion sophis­ti­ca­tion. While this is a longer-term action item list, I suggest you do the follow­ing:

  • Iden­tify all employ­ees who have expe­ri­ence in your analyt­ics tool and try to deter­mine their level (i.e. scale of 1 — 10).
  • Create an inter­nal library of educa­tional reading mate­ri­als that your employ­ees can review to get better at your tool (i.e. For Adobe, check out my old posts and book).
  • Discuss with your bosses whether it makes sense for you to invest in some train­ing for your employ­ees in this area.

In the next post, I will show how you can add new imple­men­ta­tion items to your imple­men­ta­tion and newly created SDR.

We’re here to help you through this.

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