It seems that the big buzz word today is “Big Data”. Every where you turn someone, somewhere is discussing what “big data” means for companies, and digital teams, and business models! The questions is…is big data working? By that I mean, as digital strategists, planners, UX ers, community managers…. how does big data really work for us>
The aim of the game is that we are all supposed to be forward looking right? We’re supposed to be anticipating where we should take things for our brands and tightening that bond with our audiences. Analytics, for the most part – took place in the past.
Yeah -it already happened. And it’s not necessarily a predictor of where we should be going, no? Especially when you consider that people use technology based on what is given to them and not necessarily on how they would like to use it. I liken that to the debate that companies have around deciding whether to mobile optimize a site or go responsive based on the data around how users visit their site. If mobile devices show as a lower proportion of the audience visits, then what does that really say about the audience.
The questions becomes – are the users desk top users and therefore that is the user base to cater for, or is it that because the site is only built for desktop experiences, mobile users are frustrated and forced to use their desktops?
Big data means that we have to consider that this data from the past, may not actually be a true reflection of how users want to use our digital properties but rather how they try to use it based on its limitations. Our job is to think about the future and anticipate those changes or identify the gaps that big data just won’t give us.
We have to be creative in filling those gaps, through survey’s, mapping customer experiences, understanding drop off rates and the user flow that took place before a user leaves a site – to create the story of what that digital experience needs to be in the future where data doesn’t exist.
For those who love people watching, well – this is for you! Being able to observe and make deductive decisions assist in creating insights that will strongly benefit your overall strategy.
Here are 5 reasons why observation is necessary:
1. People have behaviours. These behaviours are usually habitual. If you are able to tap into a human habit digitally, it means that you have found a way of integrating into a users life if what you put forth provides a value ad or solves a problem for them.
2. Observing allows you to identify a problem that a user may not even know that they have. People tend to compensate a behaviour when they assume that there is no other way to do something. When you find what that is, you can create a product/service to fill a void people did not even know that they had.
3. You can better understand how the user actually uses something. Professions such as Information Architecture and User Expereince come from this. Understanding how people typically use an app or website means that you can design to make it easy to use or teach a new behaviour.
4. You can make it better. Apple is famous for this. Every year people camp out for a new iteration of something that is even just a minimal improvement.
5. Data alone does not provide you enough contex. Numbers in surveys or reports and analytics are just that. They are numbers. In order to be able to find insight and create a compelling story for those numbers having actual context and opportunity to obseve how these number fluctuate and for what reasons means that you can make stronger decisions for a better strategy,
Well it takes one to know one right? It seems that many people in my family (including my own father), has displayed some type of interest in digital in one way or another. My dad was a computer programmer eventually heading up all things IT, in a time when there weren’t many IT department heads that were visible minorities in Canada. He was hardcore – I mean programming Cobalt and Tandem and crazy ridiculous things I don’t even understand. I just remember he would do some crazy things using a DOS screen. Yeah, I’m talking old school.
This is actually a post to shout out to my cousin who is a native “New Yawker” ( those are his own words ). His mom and my dad were siblings, and we pretty much spent our entire child hoods being driven back and forth across the US/Canada border to spend summers, long weekends and holidays together. He is a proud new daddy of the most adorable little baby boy – and with the time off that I have at the moment … I feel that a visit is in order, along with meeting my… second cousin? Cousin – nephew?
He too, took an interest in technology – although he had originally set his sights on architecture. (Much like myself… I had my sight set on a law degree and instead entered into communications, then more specifically digital communications). He is a CIO and actually works very much in the same field as myself. He has been a pretty awesome support to me during this difficult time of career transition.
If you have moment, you should take a stroll on over to check out his blog: A CIO’s Voice. (I’ll be sure to put a permanent link on my blog roll in a bit ;)). Happy readings!
As most of you are aware, I have proudly worked for Rogers Media in their Digital Client Solutions Team for the last 3 years. Unfortunately, and to my greatest shock – last Tuesday I was laid off as part of their restructuring process. (You can see the story here: Rogers Communications lays off 94 staff in media operations.) Myself and 1 additional team member also was let go after 8 years with the company and 5 years on my team.
I first and foremost want to say that working at Rogers in my role as a Digital Engagement Manager was really and truly my dream job. It really was everything that anyone that works in communications could dream of and ask for -not to mention that I worked on one of the most prestigious teams. I’m not shy to say – as I did at many of our morning department teams – it was the team that everyone within the organization was trying to be part of.
I considered my team members to be like family. My Director was outstanding as was my reporting manager – and I always think that these situations are the most difficult – because when you work with great people and great mentors, it is so sad to not be able to see them and interact with them everyday. As I said to them – I hope this is only just a temporary pause until we have an opportunity to work or collaborate together one day.
I shall not include names because I do respect people’s privacy and anonimity 🙂 But to all the sales reps, GMs, editors and publishers, producers, project managers, creative and also of course to my entire team – thank you all so much for the time I had to learn and grow and be part of the wonderful things that Rogers Media does 🙂