Our X Change Web Analytics Conference is meant to bring together the best people in enterprise web measurement in a collegial atmosphere. The absence of sales, sponsored presentations and booths, the lack of formal presentations, the small, conversational groups, and the refined atmosphere are all meant to provide an unparalleled experience for learning from and with your peers.
Last year, we had leading consultants and vendor experts lead each small group (Huddle) – and it worked pretty well. But this year, my goal was to further enhance the peer-to-peer nature of the event by having Huddle leaders who were, themselves, from enterprise practice. That’s produced a tremendous line-up: with senior analytics and measurement managers from companies like AIG, Charles Schwab, IBM, Intuit, Monster, Sony Pictures, The Gap, Turner Broadcasting, and Yahoo. You can check out the web site for the current list of leaders and topics.
But what about those consultant and vendor experts – are they going to be at X Change again? I don’t think the experience would be the same without them and the answer is an unequivocal yes.
I think the majority of the experts we had from last year will be back (which is gratifying) – and some great new faces as well.
Some the experts who are coming out this year were participants last year, not Huddle Leaders. They were people I saw to be outstanding contributors in Huddles last year. Andy Fisher of Avenue A, Angel Morales of LightsOut Marketing, and Dan Shields of Wicked Business Sciences all fall into that category. I was in a couple of Huddles with Andy last year including one on measuring brand value where his contribution really stuck in mind. Same story with Angel – he was in what turned out be my favorite Huddle from last year’s X Change – a session on data integration led by Matt Jacobs (who, thank heavens, is returning as well). Not only was Angel a tremendous contributor, but it was obvious that he was doing unusually interesting work. At the time of last year’s X Change, Dan Shields was working at CableOrganizer and he was doing very advanced work on multivariate testing. I was going to have him out as Huddle Leader when he jumped ship and formed Wicked Business Sciences. So I just switched him into an expert role. Like everyone who works for Paul, Dan is wicked smart (so perhaps the company name fits) and a pleasure to talk with and listen to.
The truth is that almost anyone of the Huddle Leaders could follow the same path as Dan. And that’s kind of the idea of X Change. Everyone there is at least in-part an expert and we can learn best from each other.
I mentioned Matt Jacobs of Digitas as a returnee – and obviously one of my favorites. Like Angel, Matt seems to work on the kind of projects that most of us only dream about – and being able to talk to him about learnings from some of those very expensive and very time-consuming analytics projects is like legal theft. Aaron Gray of WebTrends will also be coming out again. His huddles were some of the most highly rated last year; but sadly, I didn’t get to see any of them. I’m going to make absolutely certain we share something this year! Rand Schulman has left Unica, but I’m pretty sure that Akin Arikan (whose book Multichannel Marketing I hope to blog about shortly) will be filling his shoes. Akin’s book is great and I think the things he wrote about in Multichannel Marketing will be top-of-mind in many of the Huddles at X Change. We’ll also be having John Squire from Coremetrics coming out. John should be a great addition in every respect. Coremetrics is making quite a bit of noise in the marketplace right now and John is a thoughtful, eloquent and passionate representative.
We’ll also have great representation from the larger analytics system as well – probably better than last year. There will be senior people from some of the top companies in Online Survey Research, Customer Experience Management and enterprise SEM Management.
Nor are we limiting participation from competitive consultancies. Eric Peterson and many of the Semphonic team will be there – of course. Phil Kemelor will be coming out. June Dershewitz, Joel Hadary and Jesse Gross (who all live here in the San Francisco Bay Area) will attend. Sadly, Paul Legutko won’t make it out this year due to the untimely expected arrival of a new baby. These things happen but we’ve been inexplicably fertile this last year – I believe this will be the 3rd Semphonic baby in less than a year. I suppose I should look upon them as future analytics resources, but it will at least 8 or 9 years before they’re billable!
We’ve also been much more open this year to some of the leading outside consultancies. I’m thrilled that Jim Sterne is going to be there. Getting to sit in small groups and talk about online measurement with someone like Jim is just flat-out exciting. Jacques Warren of GAO Marketing will be returning as an expert after hosting several excellent Huddles last year. And Aurelie Pols of OX2 and Josh Manion of Stratigent will be attending this year.
If you think about it, almost all of these people (except some from the ecosystem) are competitors of Semphonic. Obviously the big agencies like Digitas and Avenue A have emerged as major players in analytics. The tool vendors field large and serious professional services teams that compete (and cooperate) with Semphonic. And, of course, no one is more a competitor to Semphonic than Stratigent! But it’s hard to see how X Change could really fulfill its purpose without their contributions. People like Josh, Aurelie, Andy and Matt have been instrumental in building web analytics as a discipline. I sometimes wish it wasn’t so, but I know they will all add tremendous value to the conversation and wow people with their knowledge and passion.
As I wrote when I first announced X Change 2008, I’m committed to making it the best conference you’ve ever attended. Our industry is getting too big for a small conference like X Change to get all the many outstanding people who might attend. But the mix of outstanding representatives from tool vendors, ecosystem companies, large agencies, top consultancies and independents will give a rich sense of the growing depth, diversity and intelligence in our field. And remember, at X Change, you aren’t listening to sales pitches or even presentations from the experts. You’re talking with them, peer-to-peer, about the real problems and opportunities you face in this dizzying field of ours.
Don’t miss it!
(And if you are from outside the SF Bay Area, please register now if you want to get a hotel room at the Ritz – we are getting really low!).