eMetrics Toronto 2013 – Tell a story!

James StandenAnalytics, eMetrics

I always look forward to the Canadian eMetrics in Toronto- and this years event lived up to my expectations yet again.

First, it was great to get together with practitioners and share expertise and knowledge, both seeing the “usual suspects” and meeting new folks.

The Keynotes

There were as always a series of great presentations- Jim Sterne’s “Sterne Measures” gave an inspiring look at what it takes to be an Analyst in today’s ever more data drenched world, Stephane Hamel talked “big data”- (including a kind shout out to Analytics Canvas in one of his case studies- thanks Stephane!), Simon Rodrigue of Walmart Canada gave an excellent keynote where he shared Walmarts perspective, and provided an excellent combination of vision and practical aspects in terms of tools and strategies.

Ginny Long of Moen, and Scot Wheeler of Critical Mass shared how Moen was tackling the challenge of attributing offline sales to online behavioral data, and Ross Jenkins from RAPP presented a case study around behavioral intent that was both entertaining and technically fascinating (which often isn’t easy to do).

The message- communication is key.

eMetrics is an amazing place to “get your data geek on” and talk shop- in fact, when practitioners get together it’s so great to be able to talk shop all the time that we all have to remember that one of the skills a great analyst has to have is the ability to talk about analytics and insight WITHOUT “talking geek”.

This was something that came up throughout the conference, starting with Jim’s first keynote- above all else, if Analysts are going to succeed in delivering all the value they can, and driving true business improvement through analysis, they have to be able to communicate to the business- not just themselves.

A recent post on econsultancy “a plea to all data geeks:speak human”– might be a bit harsh in suggesting we analysts are some sort of alien race- but the points are valid (and wonderfully presented).

Many of the speakers at eMetrics touched on this as well- an analyst needs to be able to tell a story, not just spout numbers or dive into technical detail when challenged or questioned.

When presenting information, of course there will be data and charts- but make sure that there is also the “So what?” Tell a story, and focus on both the insight, and the action that you think can be taken to drive business goals forward.

Jim underlined this very well in his presentation by putting it this way- “Have an opinion.” Don’t just give people data and dashboards. Tell them what you think, tell them the story you are seeing in the data.

You need the data and charts to back you up, but the business needs the insight- and your role will be more valuable and valued if you deliver it in a way they can understand and act on it.