Category Archives: Education

2013: revival of a digital non-native

First of all, I wish you all a fruitful 2014 year.

As for me, 2013 has been a transitory year, in every sense of the term. After having already achieved a lot since the early days of Data Elicitation, It’good to remember  the road I have been following day after day.

Very early in my new life as a GfK alumni , I decided to remain on the same innovative trend I had been forging since 2008. Today, it is great to state, that I have strongly enforced the digital side of my analytical competencies through a three-steps process.

First: education time.

I first took all by myself the course that had been originally planned in my 2013 corporate training plan. Therefore, I have attended the joint program from the Digital Analytics Association (DAA) and the University of British Columbia (UBC), a.k.a. “UBC/DAA Award of Achievement in Digital Analytics”. This has been a very intensive 5-month phase, full of exchanges between younger geeks, in search of an additional background in marketing and older senior managers, willing to understand better what digital was all about. All through spring and summer, I have been back to school, and this has led me to a first successful achievement. A warm thanks to my tutors Elena Surcheva, Nicolas Malo, James Ollunga, and Ali Shah for their directions and sensible comments about my works.

UBC award YML

Should you be interested in this (very valuable) program, more information is available on the DAA site (DAA Online Education) or on the UBC site (Award of Achievement in Digital Analytics).

Second: certification time.

Once the training done, I have applied to the DAA certification exam, e.g. “Certified Web Analyst”, which I believed should crown my efforts for entering the world of Digital Analytics. The organization has been complex, center resources in Europe are scarce. I chose Dublin (instead of Barcelona or Copenhagen), most probably because of my affinity to James Joyce’s literature… Another warm thanks to Judy Ritland at the DAA for her efforts in facilitating the exam conditions.

Unfortunately, the gorgonzola sandwich at Davy Byrnes had a bitter after-taste, as I failed the exam by only one single point. I read afterwards in various blogs, that the CWA exam is said to be very difficult (as explained by John Lovett here), and it was! But this has been my very first attempt, and, exactly like in the times when I took the HEC examination, in the mid-eighties, I strongly believe that the second attempt will be the good one! To be followed in Q1 2014.

Third: adoption time.

Let us be clear. I am not planning to enlarge my (wonderful) family… Not at all, but I now am a fresh member of the Paris digital group (#WAParis).

I have attended many events linked to digital topics and issues (some comments  in this post or in this post). Among them, the Measure Bowling has been THE ONE by which I have formally joined the merry Parisian geek’s community (measurebowling.org). I got my very first award from it with a valorous third place for the“nerdshirt contest“. Not that bad! And the award for perfect organization goes to Nicolas Guillard and Julia Kowalczyk.

At the very beginning of 2014, I can say all these meetings have been very useful to build up a flourishing future for Data Elicitation. I master very well the topics and issues which may/could/can  require external added competencies to the digital native ones.

As an expert of Big Data management on a worldwide scale (thanks to my 15+ years of experience in managing international transversal projects), I am looking forward to concretely meet these needs.

My next post – coming in a couple of days – will detail more precisely the solutions I can bring.

Stay Tuned !

The Great Discoveries, the Enlightenment and the Internet

A few weeks ago, I have been discussing about cookies while working on an assignment for my one of UBC Award of Achievement in Digital Analytics module and I had an interesting argument about comparing one’s personal computer to a home, and beyond this to the fact that the internet development is a real revolutionary spread.

Actually, this comparison makes sense, as far as you consider your home for what it is, i.e. your home base before and after any possible journey you would make, for work, leisure, shopping, vacation… Your computer is like your home, only if you do not walk outside, i.e. only if you do not connect to the web. Browsing is like going outside, to shops, to leisure activities, to theaters, to restaurants, and there, people collect constantly your own personal information.

Considering the privacy issue on my computer, I have especially focused my thoughts on the cookie management, a difficult balance between a good browsing experience and an all too present advertisement intrusion. It is similar to any visit or phone call to my home, as I would not want to tell or show too much, unless I have cleaned my floor, hidden what I would not want others to have a look at, or set my mind to “politically-correct”…

There is a schizophrenic behavior of users requesting an ever improved speed and usability for the websites, but grumbling against the website adaptation to the client’s browsing preferences, in a “but how do they know so much about me?” mode. As far as I am aware that I give up some of my privacy, allowing first-party cookies to improve my own user experience through increased page loading speed and saved preferences (such as passwords on on-line gaming sites or pre-entered Personal Information on e-shopping ones), this is fine: I do accept them freely, wherever they make sense, i.e. when they offer a real service to me. On small exception, when accessing “sensible” information (Online Banking or Tax Payments), I usually activate the “do-not-track” option, which is supposed to prevent the website from collecting cookies. So far so good for my online privacy.

In parallel to my home, I just lock it with a key, draw the curtains and lock the shutters, and my home privacy is also safe. Still a personal computer cannot be a stand-alone object any more, with no connection to the outside world, just like no one would ever stay at home all of his/her life. A computer is very much like one’s life, in constant interaction with outside inputs and outputs, and hence everyone has to acknowledge that data are collected about oneself, one way or the other.

Beyond the debate about how to manage cookies and whether they should be more strictly ruled (I may handle this later), I believe that we are anyway at a turn of history, a moment when the technology itself (internet, broadband, mobile, NFC, GPS…) is altering the very way we behave.

To refer precisely to my post title, I believe we are at a turn of tides, like at the times of the Great Discoveries in the 15th and 16th century, when we got to learn about other worlds, or those of the Enlightenment, in the 18th and 19th century, when the emergence of new ideas, as well as the tremendous progress of transportation, meant no one in the world could remain hidden from others. In this respect, the internet (and its multiple technological spin-offs) brIngs a new era of openness to the world, as one may not only be aware of new ideas or have the possibility to go and see other people and culture, but in a more efficiently manner, anyone may now summon anything and anyone to his own couch, through the power of a connected device…

This is like my home actually, as in the Middle Ages, it was totally isolated in the middle of the nowhere, and then someone discovered the way to it, then an enlightening road was built, and now, a full connected town is growing around my place. My behavior, and my relation to others will definitely be altered, as well as the depth of the knowledge they will be able to gather about me (and me about them)…

The Great Discoveries led to the fading power of the Catholic Church in Western Europe, as well as the possibility to travel enriched the revolutionary ideas of the Enlightenment… So is also the internet revolution, it changes our relationship to the world, to others, and even to ourselves!

it goes without saying that any revolution has its drawbacks; like the Revolutions from 1789 to 1917 have led to massive kills of “Ancien Régime” people, the internet is unfortunately not only nibbling our privacy, but also killing some traditional activities (Physical Cultural Media, including paper, CD’s or tapes, Brick and Mortar retailing…). Still, the same Revolutions brought new rights to the majority of the people (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity), just like the internet now allows equal rights and access to education, information, services, products… I do believe in the positive change that is brought by the latest technologies. Let us just remind ourselves that the internet only is a mean to reach a more comfortable world…

Back to school, a French freshman vs. North-American online studies

As I have mentioned in an earlier post, I am now also a student at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver. Or rather on the net.

Instead of watching football (US=Soccer) on TV, sipping a glass of Californian wine (why not?), lying in my sofa like a dead octopus, I am trying to decipher a 54-page document, written in a foreign language (English in this case), and dealing with obscure digital metrics…

A bit exagerated, I must admit. Still, I have already learned a few lessons.

In the first place, the Canadian examiner is only willing to test your knowledge. The questions are all relevant to the lesson, asked in the order of the guide, with simple calculations. No trap, no re-shuffle of the questions, no tricky to-be-deducted-with-your-own-logic calculations, no out-of-lesson problem asked in preparation of future topics.

Basically, no French examiner. A fair Canadian one.

It took me an hour at least to remember this basic fact: the key point here is to check your knowledge, not to evaluate your capacity in assessing complicated issues picking relevant parts of the lessons.

I appreciate the fact that the UBC is only willing to deliver the award to those deserving it, instead of getting rid of those not deserving it.

Different ways of seeing things. Success for as many as possible vs. rescue for a happy few.

I think this tells a lot about the way we handle innovation or even the economic crisis.

Instead of trying potential new ideas again and again, thus generating a few positive initiatives, one often tries rather to prevent failures, and in the end achieves very little.

I do believe in positive thinking. That Is why I am happy to try ever again. And to be evaluated by a North-American tutor…

From Market Research to Digital Strategy

I have started this blog for several months, but I have not brought it to life actually, as I had many other things on my urgent to-do-list… Actually all of them linked to on-going professional status changes.

In fact, after 4 and a half years at GfK spent on designing new digital initiatives, my position was suppressed. They told me they had decided to re-organize some innovation activities, thus closing the Network Intelligence Solution office in France as of 2013. Finally, as no other relevant opportunity in the company has been proposed to me, I had to leave. Considering that GfK is claiming to focus on innovative digital services, my lay-off was rather unexpected. Especially for economic reasons, knowing their very solid growth and substantial margins…

So it took me a few weeks to decide how I shall manage this change on my own. Now I am ready.

Despite the circumstances, I do want to stick to my agenda, and I am willing to use the blueprints that I have always been upholding, so as to achieve really innovative digital analytics… As a market research expert, with an ever stronger digital inclination, I have decided to reinforce my digital professionalism. In the near future, I shall then offer a full digital experience, by adding digital features to my acknowledged market research competencies. To be followed during the summer…

I shall also explain later why I believe that understanding one’s competition through the prism of key content categorization features may be a good way to target consumers (beyond the point of understanding consumers themselves), especially in those times of acute concerns with privacy issues. This may well be my full-time business as of the Fall of 2013.

In the meantime, I want to validate my digital competencies, thanks to my extensive experience in using network-centric data, expelling these data from their “noise”, enriching them with meaningful content, and trying to decipher trends out of these flows. Therefore, I am going back to school…

I am starting soon the “Award of Achievement in Digital Analytics” at the University of British Columbia (UBC), a 4-course curriculum that should keep me busy until August. And, as a member of the Digital Analytics Association (DAA), I shall pass the certification exam, in the following weeks.

September 2013 will see me start anew, as a digital re-born…