An Analytics Wish List: 4 Things We’d Love To See More Of In 2019

by Jim Cain

While we don’t deliberately create these lists, every year over the holidays we have the time and space at the office to talk shop, what our big wins were for the year, what we could have done better, and what we’d like to do next.  Inevitably, we start talking about ‘things we wish were happening’. This year’s list was interesting enough that I decided to compile it and share it with you.

Before I get started, it’s worth acknowledging that a couple big wish list items from 2012 have been granted in the last few years – people now take digital analytics seriously!  Also, there are no longer Flash websites in eCommerce, which, believe it or not, was also a real concern back in the day.

All four things on our list for 2019 end up in two distinct themes, which I will now spoiler for anyone who doesn’t like longer form articles:

  1. If you’re capturing data, you should be using it.  You have more than you think – it’s time to start doing some analysis.
  2. We’ve passed the tipping point on the importance of infrastructure.  If you don’t start future-proofing your data capture, you’re going to lose competitive advantage (and maybe get yourself into a lawsuit!)

 Analysis 1: No More Lip Service To Marketing Analytics And Attribution

Look, I know we’re all tired of hearing the ‘A’ word, especially after the hype that Google created a little over a year ago around the launch of Attribution 360.  But here’s the thing – there is a ton of great analysis that can be done right now around attribution that doesn’t require new software.  The model comparison tool in Google Analytics and the Data-Driven Attribution algorithm in Analytics 360 can immediately empower your marketers with awesome insights that make last click look weak.  Check out the attribution series we wrote in ‘18 for some insights about how to make your campaign data work for you. Napkyn also developed a full program around attribution for the enterprise – contact us if you need some help getting started.

Analytics Infrastructure 1: Single Page Applications Gaining Prominence 

This one is a little nerdy, but as analytics is literally all we do I guess it’s unsurprising.

SPA (or Single Page Application) is a newer methodology of building a website or mobile application that treats the entire web experience as a single page.  Your Gmail app would be a great example of a SPA. Why do analysts care about overall web architecture, you ask? Because SPA development best practices are very similar to data layer  implementation best practices. Allow me to explain. 

Most of the popular frameworks used in SPA development are built with a data model that’s separated from the user interface. The application code makes changes to this data model, and the model is bound to the user interface elements so that changes in one are automatically reflected in the other.   This means that the application code uses this model as a central store without having any dependencies on how the data is presented to the user. This makes for much simpler code that’s easier to change, maintain, test, and govern.

Applying the same principles to data layer implementation yields many of these same benefits for your measurement infrastructure by providing a single source for all of the data you’re collecting, and separating the data store from the way it’s presented to the user.  In truly well architected examples, the SPA data model and the data layer are actually the same model, yielding a truly seamless experience between application and measurement stacks. In fact, they often go hand in hand and have similar benefits for maintenance, governance, and quality.

Ultimately, we’d love to see people in the analytics world take the time to appreciate the benefits of this approach and start to actively adopt these same design practices in their deployments in 2019.

psst … we wrote about Deploying Google Analytics for Angular 5 last year, and also have an upcoming post on this issue.

Analytics Infrastructure 2: Enterprise Teams Sharing Data Layer Ownership

If you know me, then you know the only thing I like better than Guinness at a hockey game is talking about data layers, and I think that 2019 has to be the year that business users choose to come along with me.  If a tag manager is a kitchen, then the data layer is the farm that creates the ingredients. Missing or lousy data layers are why so many tag managers serve out crappy or broken data. Additionally, as the marketplace moves from ‘analytics for the web in a silo’ to ‘analytics for everything in one place’, businesspeople who don’t understand what a data layer is and don’t want to participate in its creation and evolution will get left behind (that means you, brand marketers!).  If you want more detail on this, give us a shout out on Twitter or LinkedIn and we’ll write a post. Or fill this in and we’ll call you and rant in person!

Also speaking of analytics for everything in one place – I’m going to predict a very interesting year for the cloud and data.  I think we’re coming out of the hype cycle on big data and the cloud, and expect future posts from us on this topic.

Analysis 2: More Playing With Data!

This last wish makes the list every year, but has never been more true (see point 1).  Digital analytics in particular has gotten very prominent in the last year (cough cough GDPR cough …) and we’ve seen tons of investment and executive visibility.  As we continue to realize just how important quality first party data is (big shout out to the Google and Salesforce partnership!), momentum will grow. With that said, almost every business has a ton of available and accurate data that can be used for a heck of a lot more than just reporting on things that already happened.  Get that analytics tool open in your planning sessions, try and answer questions and inform decisions on the fly. The worst that can happen is that you default to your gut, but it’s likely that spending some time in your data will find you some solid gold. Happens to us for our clients all the time.

It’s going to be a fun year in the industry. I wonder how many of our wishes come true. 

Looking forward to working with you in 2019.

Cheers, 

Jim

Jim Cain

Founder and CEO, Napkyn Analytics

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