DAA San Francisco Symposium Recap

This past week I had the pleasure of seeing months of work come together in the form of the DAA San Francisco Chapter Inaugural Symposium. It was a great afternoon of analytics insights and learnings as well as networking and catching up with nearly 200 other industry professionals. The theme for the day was “What’s Next” in Analytics and was carried throughout 3 different tracks: LoSoMo, Big Data, and Careers.

Jim Sterne (@jimsterne) kicked off the event with a keynote titled ‘The Key to Omni-Channel Marketing Analytics’ which focused on bringing together the theme of the track ‘Local, Social, and Mobile’ (as well as other marketing channels) to give the consumer a single experience across multiple channels. Jim talked about using online and offline data together to give each customer the most relevant experience. A plague to all digital analysts who are attempting to give their customers that consistent experience, Jim hit the nail on the head with this quote:

It was an interesting and engaging presentation (as are all of Jim Sterne’s preso’s!) which used relevant examples to bring home his main point: Give a targeted customer a consistent brand message and a consistent brand experience across all touchpoints.

Next up Akin Arikan (@AkinArikan) from IBM talked about ‘Multiple Mobile Devices, One Customer.’ His main points were:

1.Get a clear definition of ‘mobile’
2.Mobile devices are not isolated channels
3.Have a multidisciplinary team for mobile
4.Start with quantitative mobile analytics
5.Add qualitative mobile analytics to enhance usability and diminish struggle
6.Continuously optimize (and monitor!)


Following Akin, Michael Gorman of Acxiom (@AcxiomTech) delivered a talk titled ‘Think Mobile, Act Local.’ Michael gave a great example of how Acxiom and a client (a credit card company) were able to increase targeting precision of advertisements by pairing zip code and location based data (long-lat) with mobile device data to give the advertisers more control.

Up next was the most talked about presentation of the day – Jarah Euston (@jarahk) of Flurry delivered a talk titled ‘The State of Disruption.’ She talked about how software was eating the world, but these days with the proliferation of smartphones, apps are eating software. The stats she delivered around mobile and app adoption had all of twitter talking (well, at least those tweeters in the audience!).

Jarah talked about how the iPad was replacing the bedroom TV, with app usage quickly approaching television usage during the evening primetime hours.

Further, Jarah talked about how apps are eating the first screen. She gave the below example about app sessions started during the 2012 Superbowl. The takeaway here was that it took Madonna (half-time show) and the last few minutes of the game to tear peoples eyes away from their mobile devices (based on all users likely to be watching the Superbowl – defined by Flurry as all people in the US).

Finally, Jarah touched on where she thinks the mobile app industry is set to go (What’s Next! in mobile):

Rounding out the morning session, Jim Brock of PrivacyChoice.org (@privacychoice) talked about how Online Privacy is an important topic in the future of LoSoMo and gave some great tips and warnings for ‘Navigating the Privacy Jungle.’

After a networking and coffee break, the Big Data section of the day began.

Ron Bodkin (@ronbodkin) of Think Big Analytics kicked off the Big Data section with an overview of what Big Data really means. To give an idea of how big this data really is getting, Ron shared the below:

So Why Big Data?
• Work with raw data instead of requiring IT projects to prepare data for analysis
• Previously impossible to do this analysis
• Analysis conducted at a far lower cost
• Analysis conducted far faster & more frequently
• Flexibility for future unknowns

My favorite slide from Ron’s presentation is below, where he breaks down what makes a ‘Data Scientist’

Following Ron the session moved into a format called 5 in 5, where 4 different presenters presented 5 slides in 5 minutes (more like 5 in 8!). The presenters were Dr. Michael Recce of Quantcast, James Raybould of LinkedIn, Jed Kolko of Trulia, and Andrew Bakonyi of HP. Some tweet highlights below:

The Big Data portion of the day was full of great learnings from industry leaders and was appreciated by all, as evidenced by this tweet:

The day ended with a section on career development in the analytics industry. Dylan Lewis (@dylanlewis) of Intuit was supposed to present on ‘What makes a great digital analytics professional,’ but due to flight delays he was not able to make the event. Instead, Feras Alhlou (@ferasa) of E-nor did a great job presenting in Dylan’s place.

The highlights of what makes a great analyst (according to Dylan and Feras):

  • Someone in the org that can cross 2 or 3 topics (technical, business, quantitative) in his thoughts, conversations and presentations.
  • Part of the team first, and an analyst second
  • A practitioner-scientist
  • Always learning
  • Comfortable automating their job
  • Proactive
  • Knows what the business wants
  • Has credibility
  • Keeps things simple
Finishing off the day was a panel on career paths, skill development, and team structure with Alex Yoder (@yodera) of Webtrends and Rob Wrubel of the Apollo Group. Great questions from the audience regarding how to break into a career in analytics and what a potential employer looks for in an entry-level hire when a particular skill set (analytics) hasn’t yet been developed. Alex and Rob had great responses, including these great quotes:
All in all, it was a great event with a ton of good info and networking. Finally, it wouldn’t be a DAA event without a little plug:
Thanks DAA!

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