Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas & Warm Wishes for 2009!

2008 comes to an end and it is time for the traditional seasonal greetings, to look back at the finishing year before making predictions for the coming one.

I will not make it long - after all I am in holidays and right now I am even alone with my three little ones while my wife is doing last Christmas shopping. So, I have to do a lot of multi-tasking :-)

2008 has been a really exciting year - many achievements and great projects whether professional or personal like this blog. The end of the year was quite tough with the economic crisis that striked hard many industries including the automotive one, severe budget cuts and some uncertainty for the future. However, as I like to say: "never surrender"! I left aside the dramatic way to approach the difficult context and decided to see it as an unique opportunity to change the way we do online business. An unique opportunity to leverage Web Analytics practices and adoption within my company. That what I will try my best to do next year (and probably many other things). It will be my "live or die" quest... :-)

I started this blog after Mid-August and set to myself a "trial" period. The experience has been really great so far, going further most of my expectations. So, no reason to stop (according to well defined KPI's based on my "business" objectives but I won't bother you with the details :-)).

I owe you and I would like to thank all of you - who are reading my blog regularly or on occasions. I hope you will continue to enjoy it as much as I do. I will do my best to do so and to continuously improve my blog (any suggestion is always welcome of course).

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

See you in 2009!

Meery Christmas & Warm wishes for 2009

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

First Web Analytics Wednesday in Antwerp @ These Days

As Web Analytics Association country manager for Belgium, I am pleased to announce that Web Analytics Wednesdays (WAW) are back in Belgium! Hurray!

This first WAW of 2009 will be held in the nice Flemish city of Antwerp in These Days office on the 21st of January 2009, starting at 5:30 PM and finishing at...well, we will see.

These Days, the interactive agency is generously hosting and sponsoring the event.

17:30: Venue opens & welcome
18:00: Short presentation of the Web Analytics Association (Michael Notté, WAA Country manager for Belgium)
18:15: Building a Web Analytics community in Belgium - open discussion (Michael Notté & attendees)
18:45: Analytics & Optimization case study by These Days (Siegert Dierickx)
19:30: Drinks, snacks, discussion & networking

Registration fee: nothing, nada, niets, zero, rien...it is FREE!

Register NOW!
You can find full details (address, map) and register on the official worldwide Web Analytics Wednesday page (remember, it is a 100% free event so you have no excuse :-))

Anyone interested in Web Analytics is more than welcome - come and join us whether you are from Belgium or from any surrounding countries! Let's meet your peers, share experience and have fun (yes, we - analytics geeks - can have fun sometimes).

To stay inform of any update, do not hesitate to join the Web Analytics Wednesday Belgian group on Facebook or on Web Analytics Belgium group on LinkedIn (pick your favorite... or both).

I hope to see you in Antwerp next year!

Related posts:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Web Analytics poetry and (bad) music

As I explained in the previous post, we had some issues with our hosted Web Analytics tool. This week, we finally granted back access to business key users. I was a bit anxious. Would the new installation resist the rush? Would it crash again? Would users get troubles? Or would they jump of joy in the air? 

Nothing worth a good and spontaneous poem
Actually it went well. Few minor issues but nothing that serious. I had a look at the users log and I was pleased to see so many users logging in. Most users were quite happy to have it back - always good to see that many get addicted to their web data. One of them was so happy that he even sent me... a poem!

Here is what I got in my mailbox:

So sad was the day, 
when webtrends went away. 
But thanx to Michael, 
all ended well 
the backlog in reporting we have now 
we'll have to deal with somehow 
but today let's just say cheerio! 
for Mister Notté, our her-e-o! 

(this priceless masterpiece of poetry was reproduced with the permission of the author. Thanks)

Wow! I must say I had a good laugh and it put a smile on my face - it simply made my day. I will have to add this one to the list of little things that make my day as a Web evangelist - Web Analytics poetry!
Oops They did it again!
I have never sent poetry myself to express how I was happy... or disappointed. However, I have sent a song once. Yep! Here is a bit of background.

My company has been working for years with one main creative agency responsible for many web developments. They are quite good for the creative parts but let's say it when it comes to tagging, they used to really suck (I use the past tense because they have quite improved and they finally  got it in the end). But it took years and they got on my nerves so many times that I stopped counting (if you read the previous post, you know how I hate this :-)).

Oops they did it again!So one day, they screwed it again - one more time. I was tired of angry phone calls and emails as it seemed hopeless. I decided to use a different approach, I emailed them a song - a personal interpretation of a Britney Spears song actually! Yes, I know it is very cruel - no one deserve to be punished that way ;-)).

It was based on Britney Spears' "Oops I did it again" (Note: I replaced the agency name by XXX)

Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah 

I think YOU did it again
I made you believe it was more than just figures
Oh XXX, it might seem like a joke
But it doesn't mean that I'm NOT serious
'Cause to screw-up all the data
That is just so typically You

Oops!...You did it again
You played with the code, got lost in the game
Oh baby, baby...
Oops!...You did it again
That I'm now very upset
You are not that innocent

You see my problem is this
I'm dreaming away
Wishing that real pros, they truly exist
I cry, waiting for this day
Can't I see I'm a fool in so many ways
But to screw-up the code
That is just so typically you
XXX, oh


(note: ok, it doesn't rhyme but who cares, it's a Britney song anyway)

Did it work? Well, they remained silent but the issue was fixed in the hour and they did not screw up for some times at least (old habits are hard to kill).

And you? Do receive or write Web Analytics poetry and songs? How do you express your happiness or disappointment?

Disclaimer: I am NOT a Britney Spear fan at all. I have some decent music taste, believe me :-D

Related stories:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Things that get on your nerves as a Web Analytics specialist

This post is a kind of follow-up of the a previous one about things that make you day as a Web Analytic evangelist. I originally planned to write it later but circumstances made me write it earlier as I needed some cheap therapy to release some recent frustration & stress. While there are little things that can make me happy, there are those few not-so-little things that I really (but really) hate, those that make me almost lost my temper. 

Out of Order – Please come back later
It's broken man! Do not touch anything!Sometime it happens that our beloved Web Analytics tool simply crashes. That is one of the inconvenient when you host our Web Analytics solution. Software & computer engineering is supposed to be an exact science but well, sometimes systems that are not supposed to crash do. And when they do, it is usually at worst time (like when key users need those precious campaign data asked by their big boss).

Most of the time, outage time is rather limited but what really sucks is that when the beast is put back online, we have to spend an awful amount of time doing quality check to ensure all profiles & data are ok. When you have more than 200 profiles, it takes times and it does not really stands as a definition of the most exciting task in the world.

My toy got broken but daddy fixed it!But last month, the beast did not crash, it simply blew up! Bang! Worst incident ever. All efforts to reanimate it failed. In the end, we had to move everything to a new server, to migrate all data, to reprocess missing days and to double check everything. Once this will be done, we will have to take proper action to make sure this will ever happen again. At least there was no data loss, our provider and IT technical team really helped us to get this sorted out. For a while, I felt like a child whose favourite toy got broken, until daddy fixed it (more or less :-))

The positive side is that when this happens, I get a really good idea about Web Analytics data usage and importance across the company and our national branches. Oh, I also get lot of emails (and even poetry sometimes ;-)) .

Damned little gremlins!
Oh! A nasty little gremlinOn very rare occasions, gremlins come in the system and corrupt some files. And there you go, some report data are gone, vanished! 

It is then time to ask IT operations to dig out some backups, restore the logs and reprocess the missing data and pretend nothing happened. If it is only a week, that’s not big deal. If it is one year of data, that’s lot of boring work for the poor IT guys. While not the worst thing in the world, it is quite annoying and it can damage business users’ confidence in data & tool quality (but not as much when the application hits the wall, I must admit).

When agencies screw it big time
Grrrrr! What the f*** did you do?What is worth than the system crashing? Real data loss (i.e. lost forever)! I am working with many agencies from all across Europe and I must admit that it goes well most of the times when it comes to tagging implementation. But sometimes, they simply screw it. No other word. You have a nice project, you prepare everything, brief everyone, provide whatever is possible and in the end they messed it up: quick & very dirty implementation, last minute changes that break measurements or simply not done due to “lack of time”. 

How can such thing happen?  It seems that few agencies do not really care about measurements (some even see you as a creativity killer when you start asking for measurements) or they feel this is not important (they have other things to finish first in order to meet these critical deadlines). Sometimes (but very rarely) it is simply due to incompetence – they can’t learn whatever efforts you deploy.

That what happens when I lost control ;-)This really gets on my nerves a LOT – not when it happens once as it is part of the learning process (and there is no perfect process) but when it turns into a habit. If this happens several times, it aggravates me to such a point that I have no other choice than having a go at the faulty guys or project manager (I am usually a nice guy – really -  so I hate when I need to shout or write angry emails).

This generates a lot of frustration at all levels: me, the agency and most important the business stakeholders (who don’t get any valid data while spending a lot of money).

Thanks God, it happens less & less as we have defined communication process, tagging standards & guidelines (see a previous post on good practices when working with agencies) And if something goes wrong, we always look first at what are the root causes and see if we can learn from errors (before shouting) and improve, applying the KAIZEN philosophy.

What else?
There are other few things I can add but I will not go into the details:
  • When data quality sucks: everybody prepares & implements everything right and when you get the results you realize that data quality sucks for whatever reason, ruining it all.
  • When people don’t get it: It gets on my nerves when people keeps thinking that Web Analytics is just about counting visitors and putting figures into graphs while you have explained them a hundred times that is much more than that.
  • When I screw it myself: It is easy to blame others but hey, I am human, I do errors too. It frustrates me a lot as well. Here again, I try to learn from these errors and I do whatever is possible to avoid repeating them. 
Pheeeew (sigh). Now I feel better that I have spitted out all the recent frustration. Even if it is not always easy or funny, always try to learn from bad situations so you can avoid these or at least minimise impacts if they occur again. Anyway, shit happens and sometimes someone has to get his/her hands dirty to clean it – it can not always be the others. That's life but what does not put you down makes you stronger. 

In the end, as long as you get more joy with Web Analytics than pain that is what really matters. I usually do but not at the moment but I can't wait to go back to real business!

And you, what does really get on your nerves, as a Web Analytics specialist?

Related posts:
Feedback Form