I admit it. I have not published a post for a while. However yesterday’s event certainly deserves breaking that pattern. I am talking about Web Analytics Wednesday TO “bring your homework” edition.
So what is different?
The “analysis homework” of course, and the great discussion that follows!
Under the premise that analysts would we willing to share and openly discuss on analysis and results, participants were invited to bring a one pager with three analysis bullet points, including actionable recommendation and supporting data. All of this using public sources of data (the idea is not getting anybody into trouble).
Too much work? Will anybody prepare anything barely interesting? Will anybody show up? How can such an experiment be successful?
Keep on reading to find out…
As any good scientist will do, @cjberry decided to give this idea a try. From what I saw last night, I would say that IMHO opinion the experiment was a success.
Well, first because:
(a) Some people did show up (it is always a risk).
(b) The organizer’s paper was not the only one out for discussion.
(c) Most of the presents were actively participating, positively criticizing and contributing to the discussion and even taking notes, and…
(d) What is even more important, it was fun!
- Smaller turnout:
Yes, the crowd that showed up was smaller than on previous WAW. The strong invitation to bring some homework certainly scared some people. However it was not that bad either (around 15).
Not for everyone? May be not. Actually this is open for discussion. While not everyone will bring a paper, most will contribute with the discussion and just listening can be beneficial.
- Finding the right topic:
If you want to prepare a paper, finding a topic, finding the time to compile the data and do the analysis can be challenging. Even more if preparing this piece is not part of your 8-10+ hours a day job description or if you are not already working on a paper for research project of your own.
- Collecting the data:
Not everyone has a multi-dimensional data base loaded with a public data set periodically collected, or has the time to gather that kind of information on their spare time, to prepare a case study. That being said, I welcome the fact that those who have access to these resources are willing to share some results (even if “hidden agenda is hidden”). The rest we can always bring the processing power to criticize and debate.
- The engagement and open contribution. It was interesting to see how everybody focused on the particular topic at hand.
- Even experienced analysts can benefit from the feedback of their peers. It was interesting to see how many new ideas, new perspectives or points the presenter didn’t consider came up from such a brainstorming and open discussion experiment.
- If you are new on the field, you can have a grasp of what analytics looks like.
- If you really passionate about analytics and its potential, this is a very enjoyable exercise and even inspiring.
- Even if you are not that much into analytics, with content of quality, it is very likely you will learn something.
Some Takeaways and Recommendations
- The obvious. This should not be the only format and it may not be suited for all WAW groups.
- While this format will not appeal to all the Online Analytics community, I certainly can see that it can stick and that a good portion of the regular and casual participants will see more value on this offer.
- The need of a committed organizer that can lead such an event, providing some basic content, guidelines or ideas of questions to be discussed is fundamental for this type of WAW to be successful.
- To solve the problem of choosing a topic and finding the data, defining in advance a business question to answer as a group or a problem that can be tackled by all the participants will be a interesting variation. Making a set of data publicly available would be great (let’s just say I will add this one to my Christmas wish list).
That being said, congratulations to the organizer and thank you for trying this out. I am always up for creative initiatives that try to bend the boundaries. This new WAWTO format has potential, we may be into something here. I am looking forward to the next event!