I’m blogging live from Monterey in preparation to rock the SOLD OUT 2010 XChange Conference. To get everyone in the measure mindset, we have 10 questions with Eric Peterson. What better way to kick it off.
1. You are involved in so many different areas of the measure industry, how are you balancing your time?
EP: I’ve always been a multi-tasker and I am a night owl, so thanks to a few great partners and some pretty great friends helping out I have been able to give a lot back to the community. While Web Analytics Demystified clients always come first, I learned long ago with the founding of the Web Analytics Forum and the publication of “Web Analytics Demystified” that it’s not about me, it’s about the community. As the community grows, my relationships, opportunities, and successes grow along with it.
2. Why did you decide to start the Analysis Exchange and how did non-profit organizations find you?
EP: Analysis Exchange is an idea that has been brewing for years. We all know that good, experienced analysts are hard to find. We also all know that you cannot be successful practicing web analytics based on “book smarts” alone (much to my dismay as the author of three best-selling books on the subject, LOL!) Analysis Exchange was the opportunity to help train more experienced analysts and leverage our relationships in the community with great mentors like you, Emer Kiranne, Michael Healy, and so many others.
The fact that we get to help nonprofits — some of the hardest working, most well-meaning, most selfless individuals working in technology today — turned out to be an added bonus. We could have focused on start-ups, small companies, everyone … but at least for now nonprofits and NGOs have turned out to be excellent, appreciative partners in the Exchange.
3. What is the last book that you read that really left an impression on you?
EP: “Made to Stick” by the Heath brothers. Immediately after reading that I came out with my “Web Analytics is Hard” campaign which, like it or not, proved to be quite sticky. Otherwise I have to admit I’m more or less a science fiction fan and tend to read to escape at the end of the day. Old school, new school, you name it … if it has robots, lasers, and amazing technology drop it on my iPad and I’ll read it in a day.
4. When starting a new consulting engagement, what are some low hanging fruit consultants should address to help establish a good impression with the client?
EP: I don’t really have an answer for this one. Our clients come to us, and they almost always have a clear expectation of the work we will do for them, what they can expect, and how we will make them successful. This is a by-product of my support for the broader community, broad-based awareness of the Demystified brand and why we are different.
5. From my experience, successful projects are usually the result of a many failed attempts. Can you share a project that failed and what you learned from it?
EP: Well, without naming names, early on at Demystified I took on a few clients who I knew wouldn’t be able to take our advice. Great companies, great names, great people … but a near complete inability to execute the type of fundamental change our engagements require. What I learned was to be very, very picky about the clients we take on at Web Analytics Demystified. We are, and for the most part this serves us very, very well.
6. Our industry seems to have evolved from monitoring stats for web masters, to click-stream data for analysts, to platforms for site optimization. What is the next evolutionary leap for our industry?
EP: The next leap is the shift from reporting towards optimization. I have long been saying that the last ten years have been all about reporting and analysis, and the next ten will be all about optimization. Given the amazing stories that companies already invested in testing, optimization, and site adaptation are telling — amazing financial stories, by the way — I have little doubt that the testing vendors prospects are about to increase dramatically.
This is awesome news, of course, since testing is where the rubber hits the road, and until you are able to test you’re not really able to evaluate the results of your reporting and analysis in any appreciable way. Testing and site adaptation (see Baynote and their competitors) are an established way to make the data work for you instead of the other way around.
7. How would you respond to people who say you don’t need web analytics to run a successful website?
EP: Ummm, how do you think, given I have one of the world’s most recognized brands for “web analytics?” I say, “good luck … and call me when you come around.”
8. One of the most frustrating things for those in WA is the Executive that dismisses the data if it does not jive with his/her gut feeling. Back in its infancy, I could see the apprehension by some, but now that most of the larger solutions are pretty well vetted, how can your average analyst gain more respect for the insights they produce?
EP: I say, “Call me, and one of the Web Analytics Demystified partners will come in and help your organization transform the way you use digital insights to create a competitive advantage.” Then I smile.
9. When someone says they work in web analytics, that usually means they are part developer, part marketeer, part product manager, part statistician, etc. Do you see this trend continuing or will people begin to specialize in one area?
EP: Eventually we will specialize, but I think that outcome is sadly still a ways away. See my answer above about Analysis Exchange and the need to train more people. Even when companies agree to staff up for analytics it’s not like you call down to the local pool and have a dozen sent up. Until we develop critical mass of experienced, qualified, and perhaps even certified professionals the “Jacks (and Jills) of All Trades” are going to rule the roost.
10. Do you like websites?
EP: Sure, but I like Flipbook, Reeder, and Twitter better. I have little patience for having to hunt for information and much prefer to customize the content I consume on what has become my go-to device for reading and research, my iPad. I’m kind of a geek that way I guess.