We're just a little more than a month away from our inaugural X Change Europe Conference! At the same time, we've long since completed Huddle Leader selection, nailed down topics and opened registration on the X Change here in the U.S. come September. I've been so busy and so swamped with content for the blog that I haven't been able to say much about either. So I thought I'd take a week and really focus on the Conference - especially Berlin. X Change here in the U.S. tends to swim merrily along these days without a lot of pushing - we have the usual great Huddle Leaders, the largest ever selection of topics, and one of the best venues ever for the event. If you have been to X Change before, I don't need to say more. If you haven't, this is the year to go!
But let's talk about Berlin. As I look through the list of Huddle Leaders and topics, I'm struck by how similar it is to the list on the U.S. side. There's lots of focus on Site and Multivariate Testing, Big Data, Tag Management, CRM (maybe more here than in the U.S.) and Social Media. I suspect it would be hard to pick the region if you only knew the topics.
Here's some of the offerings that I think sound particularly interesting...
John Hogan (Virgin Media), Kelly Wortham (Dell) and Craig Sullivan (Belron) are leading Huddles focused on testing. I'm particularly intrigued by John's "Advanced Segmentation and MVT" which mirrors Matt Fryer's (Hotels.com) Huddle at last year's X Change on "Segmented Testing". I've come to believe that effective testing is based on careful segmentation - but far too many organizations are still focused on Site-wide tests of creatives. This is one of those cases where absorbing the tactics of the most advanced organizations - true best practices - would really pay-off. Segmentation underlies every real-world successful testing enterprise that I've seen - and both John's and Matt's Huddles reflect that.
I already mentioned the plethora of CRM topics at the Berlin X Change. There's some fascinating Huddles on the agenda. Particularly intriguing to me are Alex Emberey's (Thomas Cook) "Social CRM as a Business Strategy", David Williams' (ASOS) "Strategic Joins of Web Analytics and CRM", Ole Bahlmann's (SoundCloud) "Bridging the Gap between Web Analytics and CRM", and Tom Betts' (Financial Times) "Integrating Behavioral Information to Shape CRM".
Alex's Huddle appeals to me because I think the emergent role of CRM in Social Media is probably the single biggest change people should expect in Social Media over the next two years. When I think about Social CRM, I mean much more than communities or community management - I see it as the integration of segmentation and customer identity into social relationships to drive much more tailored and business-focused uses of social channels. It's a role that most traditional (and especially social) agencies are poorly equipped to facilitate. Social agencies know next to nothing about CRM and if you're business strategy is focused on something other than viral marketing, it should have a profound impact on the type of agency relationship you're looking for (as well as almost every other aspect of Social Media from tools to measurement to expected return).
David, Tom and Ole's Huddles (I told you CRM and Web analytics is a big deal in Berlin) , on the other hand, are interesting because they speak more to the data warehousing side of Semphonic's work. I've tackled several projects in the past year looking at ways to integrate Web analytics data with CRM data. It's not a single type of integration. There are strong reasons to move certain types of CRM data into your Web analytics solution. There are even stronger reasons to move some Web analytics data into your CRM solution. In each case, however, the nature of the data to be moved is non-obvious. Particularly with Web analytics data, you can't simply move event-level Web behavioral data into the CRM system. Traditionally, enterprises have chosen to move either single scores (like engagement) or key milestones (such as registrations) into the CRM. Both are reasonable but limited approaches. Scoring, in particular, captures too little color to really drive effective CRM. And milestones either present too limited a view of Customer behavior or provide too many fields to help make sense of the customer journey.
I think the data modeling techniques I've been discussing this year are highly appropriate in this arena - providing a way to represent complex Web behavior in a small enough format to meld with customer CRM records.
Finally, as my last few posts have made clear (and I have more on this coming), I've been spending quite a bit of time on some KPI and reporting design projects trying to push Semphonic's position here to another level of sophistication. So I'm quite interested in Ross McDonnell's (Disney) Huddle on "Getting the Measurement Foundation Right", Thomas Schmidt (Bavarian Stock Exchange) on "Defining the Most Useful Performance Indicators", and Isabelle Mouli-Castillo's (Dell - and the recent Web/Digital Analytics Association Practitioner of the Year) Huddle on "How to Measure Site Efficiency when it's not all about Conversion." These are strongly related topics and all absolutely essential in coming to a deep understanding of how to think about and report on digital success. I was particularly intrigued by a question Thomas raised in his Huddle description - will KPIs stay the same or will they change over time?
The fluid nature of business interest is the bane of reporting - and there is probably no single issue in enterprise reporting bigger than the rapid aging of interest in reports. The half-life of true interest in most enterprise report sets is numbered in weeks not months. Annotation is no more than a very partial solution to this problem. Resourceful annotation can keep interest in reports from waning as rapidly as would otherwise be the case, but if the annotating analyst is using the same data over and over, what are the chances THEY can stay interesting? On the other hand, the way we've been encouraged to think about KPIs makes it hard to see how they could/should change very often.
I think a credible approach to enterprise reporting has to tackle this problem head on - not simply assume (as is almost always done) that if the KPIs are right and the formatting is good then the report will retain its value indefinitely.
As always with X Change, it's an embarrassment of riches. I've only touched on the Huddle topics directly related to my most immediate interests and concerns (and I've skipped the Big Data one's I mentioned last week). There is so much that looks fascinating. And, of course, X Change's all small-group, no presentations format makes each and every participant a part of the conversation. If you're based in Europe - I hope you'll join us! Click here to register...