Category Archives: Me, myself and I

Data Elicitation : my professional new start in 2014

As you could read it last week in Revival of a digital non-nativeI am now more qualified than ever in Digital Analytics, ready to write the first pages of my professional new start.

It has been very nice to receive a high number of positive feedback and to state the concrete interest my last post has aroused. As announced last week, I shall now elaborate what I am at. This post defines the core business of Data Elicitation. Further ones (in a series of 3) will give much more details about specific contributions closely linked with my own proficiency, and answering concerns expressed by marketers, namely through this study by StrongView (2014 Marketing Survey). Key areas are:

1. Data patterning

The original sin of Big Data is its formlessness. So as to be able to use these data, and get the best out of them, one must organize and structure them first. This is what patterning is about.

Or course, your engineers will claim they have built the best database ever, and that it should answer any question you have. This may be true. Or not. Actually, many databases are built under technical constraints, with very little regard to usage and user experience, let alone to marketing and strategy needs. My own experience testifies that an efficient use of data is first built upon a correct understanding of the client requests, i.e. that the initial step is not drawing the plan, but thinking about how it would best fit its goal. This always has been a key driver of my action, especially when building up various new services in the marketing information business. I am a resolute data patterner.

2. Data enrichment

Your data are rich, especially if you can use them easily thanks to an appropriate patterning. But they certainly can be richer. Much richer. And most certainly not at high costs. This is what enrichment is all about.

You may have tons of data, and still this may not fit your purposes. Or on the contrary have small databases, but with a very high (and maybe hidden) value. And enriching is not only adding external information, it is also deriving, translating, cross-checking existing sources. Market Research companies used to name this data enrichment process “coding the dictionary”, a phrase showing the vastness and complexity of this process.  Getting the relevance out of the data is definitely a precious skill, and one of my own key proficiencies.

3. Data analytics

Now, your data are accessible and usable. Fine. And what next? Getting the best out of your data is not always easy, as the meaning may either be blurred or the solution to the problem lost as a needle in a haystack. This is what analytics are about.

And once your data are fit for use, you need to find the proper tactics and strategy to reach your goal, i.e. get them to talk and find the solution to your issues or validate your assumptions. This requires a fair analytic technique, but also a good flair for identifying where the gems are hidden… In this respect, as a seasoned market research expert with a solid digital background, I shall help you identify where to dig to get the best out of your data.

So in the end, this whole process of patterning, enriching and analyzing data may be summarized under one single word: elicitation. I have chosen Data Elicitation as an umbrella designation for running all these processes and bringing them together as a service.

On a practical level, my door remains open to any CEO who would require my exclusive working force to set up their data marketing corporate strategy (e.g. hire me). Still, the current market conditions, notably in France, imply that flexibility is key, especially in the light of project-driven action. This is why I offer my (invaluable) resource also as a contractor. So? Drown in data? Or searching them desperately? And in need of elicitation? Let us keep in touch and let 2014 be the year for your ultimate data elicitation!

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 !

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…