Doing first what we used to do last!
Thinking about some new strategies and smarter techniques for applying analytics within a strategic context, it occurred to me that perhaps analytics should actually be tackled to some degree right up front at the start of the project even before developing strategy. This idea may seem to be against the logical order, but I’ve got a theory that by putting some upfront thought into what is considered important from a measurement perspective will actually help us gain insight and understanding of the things that really matter to the business, and therefore will have some influence in the strategies developed.
There is a pattern here, and perhaps I’m affected by my background in software engineering. It used to be in software development that you would write software code, and then test it later – that’s logical since you can’t test until you have something to test! However, newer agile methodologies have changed the emphasis on writing the tests first, and then developing the code later. This thinking achieves two things. Firstly, by writing the tests upfront forces quality to be factored into the heart of the design. Secondly through the process of designing the tests, software designers are given another tool to help them understand the effectiveness of the design. Perhaps by forcing the designer to see the design from a different angle they may have not have otherwise considered, hopefully may translate into recognising issues or improvements well before any software code is actually written.
Back to the point! This is the pattern I see being emphasised – some of the things that we logically leave to last, should in fact be tackled to some degree right up front. There’s no question analytics should be designed into the solution during the design stage and not left till the end. The challenge is whether we need to look at introducing some component of analytic design right into the early discovery phase of our strategic process. Something for us to ponder!
If you’ve made it this far and still wondering what I’m on about, let me illustrate with an example. Try asking yourself this question about your own online presence and see what answers you come up with:
“In an ideal world, what (online) analytic intelligence if I could measure right now would have the biggest impact on improving my business?”
Keep in mind, this question doesn’t relate to your current site or analytic problems. Think big – the answer is intended to go beyond your current circumstances into an ideal world not bound by the usual constraints (financial or technological). If you give this question serious consideration, I’d be surprised if you don’t obtain some useful insights into the direction you should be heading.