Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What is one person impact on the web analytics community?

I especially enjoyed reading Kevin Hillstrom article this morning: "Hashtag Analytics: Removing a Member of the Community". Not only because Kevin is one of the top marketing analyst and writes great and useful articles, but especially because I was the subject of an experiment in the small Twitter #measure community.

What is the significance of "2%"?

I'm not sure which is most disturbing to me "fine young man" or "about 2% of the community no longer participates".

I think Kevin analysis is robust when it comes to the small #measure community on Twitter. However, it's also a bit disturbing to me...
  • 2%: is it a low or high community impact? It's hard to tell without some benchmarking
  • there is no "multiplicity" aspect to the analysis; it doesn't account for any other activities but Twitter.

It's not about me, it's about the community

When Eric Peterson mentioned several times "It’s not about you, it’s about the community..." on Twitter and in a blog post, there were some subtle messages that ended up creating some level of discomfort and misunderstanding in the community. Myself included.

First, we have to wonder what is the "web analytics community"? Is it the Twituniverse? Is it only what happens online and is visible to most? Kevin analysis doesn't account for the non-twitter activities that might be contributing even more to the growth of our industry. Once we understand this limit we can better appreciate the quality of his work.

For example, I salute Eric willingness to recognize others contributions in our community and I was sincerely touched when he said Stéphane "brings an enthusiasm to his work in the web analytics community that few can match and so I appreciate his passion". The recent initiative from Jason Thompson to help bring water to local communities in need - although it has little to do with our web analytics community - is a great cause and several people in the #measure community were happy to contribute. This exemplifies a community of interest that extends toward other causes and important subject matters.

What do I (and you) want from the community?

It's not about "me", but it is certainly about a passion I have for what I do. In "The best promotion I never got: My new year’s resolution advice", Rommil Sandiago puts it this way:
  • I want to make my mark
  • I want to be recognized for my efforts
  • I seek to not only challenge the status-quo but achieve results in doing so
  • But most importantly, I want to be trusted with something strategically important
Regardless of our experience and how involved we are in the community I think most of us are motivated by a sense of accomplishment. At least for me, accomplishment is a much stronger motivator than money!

Accomplishments: personal

While I was enjoying a great job with very good compensation, I still wanted to accomplish something more. One of the key accomplishment of my career was to take online classes to do an eBusiness MBA while working, catering to my family and starting my own business. It took me six years to get my degree. Despite the fact I didn't have an undergraduate degree I ended up being twice on the honor roll - and I'm now teaching a graduate class on web analytics which I'm especially proud of.

Make a mark; be recognized; challenge status-quo and shift toward a more strategic role.

Accomplishments: for myself, for the community

Helping the "community" can take different shapes and forms - be it our little #measure community, raising money to provide water in poor countries as Jason did, or being a volunteer medical first responder - as I did - but that's not the point... Here are some of the personal accomplishments I'm proud of, most of which had an impact on the web analytics community:
  • Web Analytics Solution Profiler: I pioneered the first true "in context" QA tool for web analytics in 2006. Since then, other products have emerged, be it tools like Ghostery which allows you to block web analytics tools or ObservePoint which came out and offered a slightly different approach. Note that WASP is now fully owned by iPerceptions. Maybe, in some ways, I have contributed to an increased awareness of the importance of tagging quality and made a little step toward Tag Management Systems - thus my interest and recent announcement of my involvement with TagMan.
  • Online Analytics Maturity Model: see the little story behind the Online Analytics Maturity Model.
  • gaAddons: enhancements for Google Analytics, is more recent and is gaining great momentum.
  • Web Analytics Association: I've been deeply involved with the WAA - to the extent of publicly taking a stance when folks where bashing it (think member value, globalization and Certification). Volunteering on a number of committees like Education and Certification. Spending two years on the Board and as Treasurer and countless hours doing volunteer work "behind the scene".
  • Web Analysts Without Borders: Adam Laughlin, myself and a bunch of volunteers gave their time to literally become team members of SaveTheChildren.org.
  • UBC Award of Achievement in Web Analytics: over the years, I have tutored over 650 students and the feedback is always very positive. Students likes the fact I'm going beyond the course content and share my experience, tips & tricks, and like my teaching style.
  • ULaval MRK-6005 web analytics, graduate level class: this is another way of getting involved in the community. I could spend more time consulting - it would be much more profitable - but teaching isn't just about sharing my knowledge, it's also an amazing way for me to continue to learn. Also, as part of the learning process, we helped the Sainte-Justine UHC Foundation.
  • Web Analytics Wednesdays local meetups: I started doing Web Analytics Wednesday in 2006 but eventually realized the WAW solution wasn't right for me: it was in English while my audience is French, I could as well find local sponsors and email members in my community directly.
  • Web Analytics Canada - Québec LinkedIn Group: I created the group about a week ago and it's already over 100 members strong. A small step toward an official WAA Chapter! This is in addition to the 400+ subscribers to my "Analytique Web au Québec" newsletter.
  • eMetrics and other conferences: with San Francisco and Toronto coming up, it will be my 15th time speaking at eMetrics. Being part of the community also means I invested time & money to get there, share and learn.

Parting thoughts

In this day and age of social media and ease of getting all kinds of metrics it's easy to fall for popularity contests and boast ourselves of being among the top in any given industry. At the end of the day, when finally getting to bed after a long day of work, can we look back and feel we've accomplished something useful and positive for ourselves, our family and our community?

No metric will tell you the answer.
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