20 minutes | Mar 2, 2020

#32 - Jente De Ridder - A Vision for Sustainable Analytics Implementations

Superweek is a Hungarian conference hosted on the top of a hill, you can't run away, you can't hide. But Jente sais, he liked that, because everyone has to talk to everyone. To each his own :D Jente is on Linkedin here and if you would like to talk shop, chat him up on the business website. Here are the links to the things we talked about on the podcast: Generic Digital Data Layer framework opensource code: https://bitbucket.org/xploregroup/xploregroup-webanalytics-demo/src/master/ Measure Slack for the digital analytics community: https://www.measure.chat/ And here is the full presentation from his talk on Superweek so that you can follow along with the podcast. A vision for sustainable analytics implementations - Superweek 2020 from Jente De Ridder   Here is the transcript of the talk we had: Jente: The framework has been implemented. What we've done is we've decided to make the framework open-source. It's available for everyone who wants to use it, it can be shared in the notes afterwards. Peter: This is time for marketing. The marketing podcast that will tell you everything you've missed when you didn't attend the marketing conference. Hello. Welcome to the time for marketing podcast, the podcast that brings you the best marketing conference speakers directly to your podcast listening app. My name is Peter and this episode number 32. Well, we will be going to a conference in Hungary. Before we do that, as you know, podcasts are usually things that people should listen to. You, yes you, can help me to get more people to listen to this podcast. If you like the speakers that I had in the past, and I know you will love today's speaker, just tell anyone. Just people that you've heard that are using podcast. Tell them time4marketing.com is a great website where you can get an interesting podcast. Now, we go directly to Belgium. With me today is Jente De Ridder. Jente, hello and welcome to the podcast. Jente: Hi, Peter. Thanks for having me here. Peter: How are you doing? How is Belgium? I've always imagined Belgium as one of the European cold countries, is this so? Jente: Well, we have global warming also here so it's getting better. [chuckles] It's true, we have a lot of rain but we do have our nice days as well. Peter: And loads of chocolates, everything is better in Belgium. Do you also have a lot of fries or is that only a Dutch thing? The fires [inaudible 00:02:06]? Jente: It's definitely a Belgium thing. We have the best fries in the world, the best chocolates, and also over 100 very good beers so for all those things, you should come to Belgium. Peter: All right. You should be paid by your tourist community to help promote Belgium. Jente, you are the managing partner and a digital analyst at a company called Stitched. Tell us a bit about the company, and more interesting tell us a bit more about what you do. What is your everyday work like? Jente: I'll start with Stitched. Stitched is a digital analytics boutique consultancy firm active in Belgium and in the Netherlands. What we do is we help enterprise clients to get more value out of their data. We are mostly focused on their digital data so our mission is actually to help those companies make use of the data they're gathering in tools like web analytics. Because what we often see is that those companies that have BI team or data scientists in-house that those teams are used to working with CRM data, point of sale data, but they don't really understand how the digital data is gathered. Because digital data it's imperfect data, of course, and this can be quite hard for them to get their minds around. What we do with Stitched is, from our experience in the digital data, we team up with those internal BI teams or the data scientists and we integrate the digital data in the entire data sets, the entire data warehouse of the company. We mainly focus on challenges like how do you cope with identification in a digital environment and those kinds of things. Peter: How did you get into analytics? Jente: I started analytics over eight years ago now by working in a online marketing agency. I learnt everything involved in online marketing there, the advertising part, social, content creation, search optimization, and also analytics. It was really that data part that motivate me the most. After a year, I decided to switch to another company I could pick up a full-time web analyst role and I've been building a team within that company since then. Mainly, everything that I know about digital analytics I learned it myself by reaching out to the measure community, reaching out to other people, reading blog posts. It's hard to start in digital analytics as there's not really an education course preparing you for it. It's really your own motivation and your drive to really understand things and go look them up yourself. Peter: I've invited you to the podcast because you had a very interesting presentation at the Superweek conference in Hungary. That's a conference at top of a hill, how was that? Jente: Well, it was a really nice experience. I've been to Superweek before also as a participant and I really love that conference. It's one of the leading conferences within web analytics or digital analytics in the world at the moment mainly because many of the thought leaders are there for the entire week and you have, of course, great presentations being given. The most valuable part is that everyone is there in the hotel for an entire week. There's nothing in the neighborhood around, so it's indeed on top of a hill, more than an hour drive away from Budapest. It's in the middle of nowhere and all you have is the hotel, the lobby bar, there is a big campfire every night outside, you have a hot tub, a swimming pool. There's a lot of room for exchanging ideas with your peers, really going into discussions about analytics and that's what makes the experience really nice. I would recommend it to everyone active in the digital analytics sphere. Peter: I've seen the pictures of bonfires at night at front of the hotel, that looks really, really interesting. Your presentation was called a vision for sustainable analytics implementation. We've chatted enoughI hink, let's go directly to your presentation. Jente, here are your five minutes. Jente: What we've done with the team of Stitched with one of our clients [unintelligible 00:06:43] in the Netherlands. It's energy supplier, they're a market leader in the Netherlands and over two years ago we were asked by them to implement a new data layer because they were switching from hardcoded [unintelligible 00:06:54] implementation to a Tag Manager implementation and they also [unintelligible 00:06:59] a new data layer. They have a really complex landscape, they have different departments, multiple brands, so many platforms. There were like eight different platforms with all different CMSs being managed by different development teams, different marketing teams. It's your typical enterprise environment where there's a lot of complex things and not everything is aligned. As a business they require to have numbers across those brands, across those platforms, and they want to compare those numbers only one dashboard, those kinds of things. We start thinking from there what is the best approach to implement a data layer here so one unified data layer across all those platforms. Also taking into account the challenges within the web analytics that we saw, where one of the biggest challenges was, of course, that's normal, the original web analytics is page-based, so you track every time your route changes. That is not really sufficient anymore because more and more development frameworks are modular, like Angular, for instance, you have single-page applications. It's not enough anymore to know that the page has changed but you want to know what was on the page at the moment. Same when you look at different devices being used, the screen size of people coming into your website is always different. What do they see actually, instead of which page has been loaded? Same when you look at personalization, we show different things to different people on our homepage, so just having a report where you know that your homepage has been seen 10,000 times doesn't tell you what was on that page at the moment people visited. Those challenges we also try to solve them with our approach that we're looking for. There was also the fact that the implementation of this new data layer would be really quite a heavy investment from the organization because of the scale of the platform. This was also something that they were willing to do, but of course they don't want to do this every two years for instance. What is the case in many companies that you see today is that there are new implementations happening every two or three years because all too often development implementation is based on the specific vision of one person. The person that's in charge of the implementation at the moment [unintelligible 00:09:13] for instance. Once that person switches roles or goes to another company, someone else comes in and he has his own vision and they must go through an entire implementation again. We want to prevent those kinds of situations and just make sure that the investment was worth it for doing it once and you don't have to do it every couple of years again. That's when we came up with a framework that we've called the Generic Digital Data Layer Framework, where we changed the vision of [unintelligible 00:09:40] starting from page-based tracking to event-based. Everything that happens on our webpage can be considered as an event because already it's all the user interactions happening that are already seen as browser events. For people who are familiar with a bit of customization policies they already work with those events probably. Again, we want to track things like someone clicks on a button, someone submits a form, a sp
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