That Analytics is the raging talk of the town, many thanks to media glitz, is one of the least disputed topics in the Information technology industry. One of the questions I get asked time and again from many people both inside and outside of Sapient is “How Can I make a career in Digital Analytics”? Thought I will pen a short article to elaborate on this, with the intent of setting junior aspirants in the right track.
What is Digital Analytics about? Let’s get on the same page
Analytics has been around since the dawn of the IT age – remember data marts, data warehouses, relational and subsequently de-normalized databases whose data is sliced and diced by BI tools. With the paradigm shift from thick to thin clients and the proliferation of the internet, web analytics (tracking web site user behavior) has gained prominence over the last two decades. Over the last few years, Mobile and Social have disrupted the world of marketing and have left the marketing heads of consumer brands in a Do-or-Die situation. Digital Analytics is the set of activities that need to be undertaken in order to measure (and subsequently optimize) visitors’ footprint across all digital channels –web site, mobile site/apps, online campaigns and such.
What do Digital Analytics brethren do?
Here is my favorite analogy. Construction of a house is not a single man’s play but rather a concerted team effort of architect(s), masons, plumbers, electricians, and painters. Digital Analytics is no different. At a high level here are some roles (same person can don multiple hats) at play:
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First Steps for the Beginner
I would recommend starting off with Web Analytics as this is the most mature element of the overarching Digital Analytics domain. Here are some tips to get started:
- Get a grasp of the concepts of web analytics. A good list of some of the terminology and their definitions can be found on Web Analytics Associations web site here.
- Get a copy of Avinash Kaushik’s awesome book Web Analytics 2.0 and read it. By the time you complete the book you will no longer be a novice.
- Start with Google Analytics – it is FREE, and fairly easy to learn both from the implementation as well as reporting perspective. Justin Cutroni’s blog is a great resource.
- Get your hands dirty with Excel. YouTube is one of the best resources on this.
- Equipped with the above knowledge, your personal charisma and a bit of luckJ, you should be able to clear a job interview and land a job. From there, you will start picking up invaluable hands-on experience. Venture into the more advanced (and awesome) tools like Adobe SiteCatalyst.
- Once you get a reasonable grasp of web analytics, you can venture into Mobile/Social Analytics and/or predictive analytics honing deep into specific industry verticals.
As it stands today, fresh college graduates have a reasonable exposure to programming technologies like JAVA and .NET. Analytics is not yet a part of most college curriculum. Should you choose to take a detour from the path chosen by typical college grads and get into analytics, you should be proud to know that you will be among the 1% of the IT work force who made this choice. For experienced IT professionals from other domains, your overall knowledge of the web can only help, though you should expect a fairly steep learning curve during the first year. Fret not, take the plunge. The joy and the job satisfaction can be immense. Good luck.
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Vinay Mantha heads SapientNitro’s Data Analytics & Optimization Center of Excellence (COE) in India. In his current role he is focused on an ongoing expansion of the analytics delivery arm to serve clients from NA/EU/APAC and on building framework-based analytical capabilities for SapientNitro. Some of his noteworthy clients include the likes of Vodafone, BlackBerry, Marks & Spencer, Chrysler, Unilever and Citibank. Vinay is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) who holds an M.S degree in Computer Science from Wright State University (OH, USA) and an Engineering Bachelor’s degree from Osmania University (Hyderabad). A data evangelist by passion, over a career spanning 15 years, Vinay has spent most of his time architecting data solutions, chartering data mazes and solving data puzzles – in this process, transforming data into information leading to actionable insights. Starting his career with Intel as a database developer, he has subsequently worked with companies such as Unisys and more recently Simplexity (a US-based startup focusing on mobile retail e-commerce) in various hands-on as well as leadership roles. The entrepreneurial opportunity to build a “Center of Excellence” ground-up and execute on his vision/strategy prompted Vinay to take up this position with SapientNitro and relocate from US to India in 2011. An author of several thought leadership articles and a frequent guest speaker at Indian Institute of Management (IIM) – Lucknow, Vinay is passionate about disseminating knowledge on analytics.