Transcript of Brian Induni Podcast with Eric Enge

Podcast Date: May 15, 2007

Neil Patel

The following is a written transcript of the May 15, 2007 podcast between Brian Induni and Eric Enge:

Eric Enge: Hi, I am Eric Enge, the President of Stone Temple Consulting. You can see our website at www.stonetemple.com. We are here today with Brian Induni, the Executive Director of the Web Analytics Association, and also the President, Induni Northwest. We plan to talk today about Emetrics and the web analytics association. You can see the WAA website at www.webanalyticsassociation.org, and you can see the Induni Northwest website at www.induninw.com. So, how are we doing today Brian?

Brian Induni: Oh, good Eric. Thanks very much for inviting me to this podcast.

Eric Enge: Yes indeed. What were your impressions of how the Emetrics Summit in San Francisco went last week?

Brian Induni: The Emetrics Summit was a fantastic event. I really believe it's the only event of its kind for the web analytics industry, and as always it far exceeded my expectations. I would speculate that the rest of the attendees felt the same. Jim Sterne does a fantastic job of paying attention to the details and having a live variety of keynote speakers. And, also helping the attendees be very organized to optimize the Summit's benefits to them. He does that through various pre-mailings and the speakers that he has there. And then, finally, Jim Sterne is involved with all of the attendees during the conference, and I think that provides a huge benefit for those folks that are there. I really look forward to the fall Summit in DC and hoping to make the trip to Europe for the Summit there as well. The Web Analytics Association is really proud to be a lifetime sponsor of this event, and feel that this relationship with the WAA and the Emetrics Summit is a huge benefit to our members.

Eric Enge: I imagine you get vendors, large companies looking to communicate with a lot of vendors efficiently and rapidly, as well as people who are going there just to learn about analytics. Is that a fair assessment?

Brian Induni: It really is. The people attending are all over the spectrum, and in fact I find to my surprise I found a lot of the larger companies that are there send high level executives who are there to learn about web analytics, so that they can drive the buying process, and also to help their teams succeed in their missions in the web analytics space within their companies.

Eric Enge: It's an interesting point about driving the buying process, which is obviously so critical in the analytics world, and it really is an education process, isn't it?

Brian Induni: It sure is, and as a matter of fact, one of the workshops that the WAA organized on the training day was a half day workshop on creating and managing that business culture. So, at least it's a known factor from both sides, the folks that do the analytics in the industry, and from the executives in the corporation. That's been a stumbling block over the years, but now that we have realization on both sides I think, there is a swift movement in the right direction.

Eric Enge: Right. So, since you mentioned the WAA training day, can you talk a little bit more about that and some of the workshops that took place and how it was received?

Brian Induni: Sure. On Sunday, the day before the Emetrics Summit began, the WAA held four, one and a half day workshops. And, these workshops were introduction to web analytics; web analytics for site optimization and online marketing campaigning measurement, and, creating and managing the correct business culture around analytics. So, as you can see, we've tried to address those for highest level topics with as much detail as possible in that short amount of time. These workshops really aren't designed to be a replacement for our courses that we've created for the University of British Colombia. And, a lot of folks have asked me that, are these a summary of those courses? And, they are really not designed to be a summary or a replacement for them, as each of the courses at the University of British Colombia are four weeks long.

Eric Enge: You're not going to do that in a half day, right?

Brian Induni: You are not going to do that in a half day, it doesn't come close to getting in to the detail in four weeks. But, it's really designed to be more of an overview of areas to learn about. It just gives you that knowledge to come up with the questions to ask. And, it really prepares you for the Emetrics Summit event to kind of get into the mind frame of questions, and who to go to for answers. And, so the training day workshops were very well received, and each one was filled to near capacity all the time. This is the second time we have offered this workshop. The first time being in the Emetrics Summit in DC last fall, so the audience always provides great feedback for us, and we continue to incorporate that feedback and suggestions into future workshops. But, I'd say, overall these workshops are a huge success, and we are hoping to expand these as we go forward.

Eric Enge: Right. So, you certainly plan to offer the workshops in the fall at the DC Emetrics Summit.

Brian Induni: That is the plan, yes. And, it really does it help the attendees get into the mind frame of what's to come for the week, because it's like drinking from a fire hose when you get to the Emetrics Summit. There is so much to know and so many people, the gurus of the industry are there, and you really need to be prepared for how to take all of that in.

Eric Enge: It's a testament to the training sessions that the workshops are basically filled to capacity, even though you have to get there a day early to participate in them. That means people were really willing to commit a lot of effort to participate, which is great.

You also had a WAA member meeting and reception at the Emetrics, how did that go, and what took place?

Brian Induni: We had a lot of other events actually, it was very intertwined throughout the week, but immediately following the workshops, we had a member meeting and we had roughly eighty WAA members attend the member meeting. The agenda really was comprised of updates in the committees, and a review of the organization over the past year. We reviewed financials, we reviewed the board members and talked about the new board members that were being elected in. And, following the member meeting, we had a WAA hosted reception and this is really where the members could get to know one another. And then, this is the time that they get to put faces to names, and get to know one another, rub elbows with those leaders of the industry that we call the gurus. And then, on Tuesday evening we held our web analytics Wednesday.

Eric Enge: Web analytics Wednesday on Tuesday? That makes a lot of sense.

Brian Induni: Web analytics Wednesday on Tuesday, yeah. So, it was a little confusing to some, but really and this is the second time we've done it at the Emetrics Summit. And, since the Summit ends on Wednesday, we wanted to make sure that we gave all of those people that were there for the Emetrics Summit event and the WAA event, a chance to meet again in an informal setting. So, this was a non-member kind of a meeting, and a chance meet each other and discuss the industry or discuss topics of interest and mix with those folks that they had heard of, but not seen yet.

Eric Enge: So, this notion of web analytics Wednesday, talk a little bit more about that, because as I understand it, this is a thing that is happening on a regular basis across the globe.

Brian Induni: Yes, it does. The web analytics Wednesdays are an organized event, I believe Eric Peterson is the one that kicked these off, and they are designed to be a meeting of folks interested in the industry. I believe it happens on the second Wednesday or third Wednesday of the month. And, it's designed so that you meet in an informal setting, and you just discuss what's interesting in the world of web analytics, or what questions you might have, or just to meet others to learn more. It's turned into a bit of a competition across the globe. So, the Nordic regions are beating out just about everybody in the world. As a matter of fact, I am looking at the calendar here, in April I believe they had sixty people at this informal event that usually happens in a pub or local restaurant or dining hall. It's a great informal way for people to get together and just discuss what's going on in the industry.

Eric Enge: Right. And, make they connections and network along the way, right?

Brian Induni: Exactly. That is one of the mantras of the web analytics association, and it's difficult in an industry where you have the gurus, the holders of the knowledge that have been in the industry for so long, and then so many people coming into the industry. You have such a gamut of knowledge range, and people are dispersed geographically that sometimes it's difficult to know where to get the information or what questions to ask. So, just being in the same room with people that know more than you do, you tend to just absorb that information and awfully quick.

Eric Enge: Right. And, another thing you mentioned just earlier on is the educational programs that you have with the University of British Colombia. But, I understand you are expanding that now, and you are going to have other schools participating; why don't you talk a little bit about that?

Brian Induni: The program that we created in conjunction with the University of British Colombia is essentially a four course program that allows you graduate with an award of achievement. It's an online program, so each course is four weeks long. You could potentially blast through these in less than sixteen weeks if you tried. But, since the courses are offered at certain times, doubling up is difficult, and they usually are sold out well in advance to capacity. They really do cover the topics that we talked about at our training day workshops with the introduction to web analytics; the web analytics per site optimization; the online marketing campaign and then creating the business culture. But, they really get into it deep and give you a lot more history and information on where go for more information.

The last course was finished in November of 2006. So, we are getting our first graduate out of that course at the end of December, and now we are into a next cycle of first graduates through these four courses again. So, we've taken that concept of these core courses that allow people to graduate with an award of achievement, and brought them to other universities and are talking to universities about wrapping other courses around these core competency courses to allow you to graduate with a certificate. The first University that we are speaking with is the University of Irvine, I believe that they will offer our courses in a cafeteria style, and allow you to wrap other programs surrounding them to suit your business, or IT, or small business focus. And, you can come out with that certificate that is applicable to your area at the world.

Eric Enge: Now, do you imagine that you will move towards certification programs in the future, or what's the thinking on that?

Brain Induni: Certification is something that is very sought after, similar to Microsoft certification or Cisco certification. Our members and folks in the industry are really asking for some level of certification that allows them to be WAA certified, and that being more than just a stamp, but meaning something that they can bring to really a potential employer, or make them more valuable in the industry. There is a huge effort going on right now with that program, and as a matter of fact our education committee, who created these courses for the University of British Columbia is actively working on that certification program now, and they would love to have some volunteers to help on that program.

Eric Enge: Excellent. Switching back to Emetrics a little bit, what were the biggest things that you found or heard about during the Summit?

Brain Induni: I think we are in the middle of transitioning from adolescence to adulthood in the industry. We are starting to get wired a little bit differently, and we are starting to behave a little bit differently. We are an industry we are moving into adulthood, and I feel that way with the Web Analytics Association as well. We are a true organization with members around the globe with money to spend on programs. So, I learned that we have a lot of people in this industry that really cover the full spectrum of knowledge, creative ideas and leadership. We are learning more about the future direction of web applications, and how this impacts measurements and analytics was really a major highlight for me. I talk with a lot of other folks that really had this light bulb going up over their head, and the aha look in their eyes. For example, you talk about Web 2.0 and what is Web 2.0? And, there were a lot of light bulbs going off. I was actually fortunate enough to have very in-depth thought provoking conversation with Judah Phillips from Reed Publishing. We were talking about where Web 2.0 is heading. We finally came up with a conclusion that it really could be summed up by one commodity creating term which was "Hippy Wiki". We are just catching up with 2.0, and now it's moving forward again.

So, some of these ideas that came out of the summit were extremely thought provoking. I found that the seasoned veterans could renew their basic knowledge, and this was really confirmed by speaking with several director level attendees, who went to some of the introduction courses. And, in some of the true newbies to the industry, they are just so hungry for this knowledge and answers. The Emetrics Summit is such a great place for finding everything from the basics, to the way out there thought provoking kinds of things. I really enjoyed that experience, and I think that that's a true testament to what the Emetrics Summit is all about.

Eric Enge: Right. For listeners let me point out that one of the big challenges with things like Web 2.0 is deciding what it is that you are going to measure. And, it's really very difficult, because the page view is no longer necessarily a page view, and many "views" can happen dynamically in one page. This creates a very different environment for deciding how you measure the performance of a website.

Brain Induni: That's right. And, listening to some of the sessions, and listening to what some of the speakers had to say about that challenge was enlightening, and I think it; you have to be there to understand what's happening with 2.0. You have to be at that point of Web 2.0, not creating it, but realizing the challenges that you face in measuring the type of dynamically created information.

Eric Enge: Right. Ultimately measuring is easy, but the hard part is measuring what?

Brain Induni: Exactly. And, if you measure everything, you will go into analysis paralysis.

Eric Enge: Right. I was also fascinated with the re-branding of WebSideStory into Visual Sciences. As I understand it, one of the major reasons for that is that the company is so focused on cross channel integration that having "web" be an integral part of the company name seemed like a problem to them. But, it seems like there are a lot of other implications to everything they are doing there as well.

Brain Induni: Yeah. I think the company, Visual Sciences, has a wonderfully visual product. And, I think that's been the biggest challenge in web analytics, making it easy to get some information. So, where they are heading with a product that integrates all of their marketing channels into a visual source of actionable information is something that I think you are starting to see more companies do.

Unica is also very focused on that, and so I was happy to see that Visual Sciences has taken that next step, and I go back to my statement earlier - we are really transitioning into adulthood. And, with this absorption of companies into one and creating Visual Sciences brand for their company, it really makes them look like that next level of real business in this industry. And, that was one of the other things that I found at this Summit, which was everybody wants to integrate their channels, and everybody wants to know how their offline marketing helps their online sales. And, that to me really is the nirvana of all of this, and I think we are starting to see more and more companies see the web analytics role, the web analyst role within their organization, as part of their marketing functions.

Eric Enge: As part of this, Eric Peterson has gone off to do his own thing.

Brain Induni: Yes, he has. I am not sure of the details of all of that. I am sure Eric will blog about it, and get into more detail. He is focusing, I believe, on his next book, and updating some others. He is going to be doing similar types of training and speaking as Jim Sterne does. So, I think that will be a great benefit to the industry having Eric Peterson available out there instead of being either an analyst, or a vendor, but being available for our folks to go to for information, I think it's going to be a huge benefit.

Eric Enge: Right. Of course not too long ago Avinash Kaushik did the same thing in terms of going independent and then becoming the Google Analytics evangelist. It seems like a lot of the big names are setting up independent shop at this point.

Brain Induni: I think you are going to see more material come from them in terms of books, best practices, and white papers. I think that is going to be a wonderful benefit to all of us. Avinash is actually creating a book, writing a book right now, and that looks very interesting and I am excited to get a copy of that.

Eric Enge: It's called Web Analytics an Hour a Day. Also, Google Analytics came up with a major new release. I believe they just announced it last Tuesday, and that seemed like a pretty good step forward for them as well.

Brain Induni: Yeah. I think Google Analytics is always talked about now, as being the point that a lot of people can get started with. So, you either have people or money to get started in something like this, and Google Analytics allows you to bypass that money part being a free application. And, part of that challenge that I believe they've had in the past has been the interface, so it looks like they've offered a new interface, and some other optimizing types of tools. So, I think they are heading in the right direction with an offering for some of the smaller businesses who can't afford to get into web analytics very seriously these days. So, I think they are really helping people understand and learn, and helping businesses get into this world of web analytics.

Eric Enge: Right, yeah. I think it was a great step forward for them personally. I think if it as closing a bit of the gap that it opened up between them, and the other products out there.

Brain Induni: Yes, absolutely.

Eric Enge: Well, great. I think that was a good overview of what's going on with the Emetrics and the WAA. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today, Brian.

Brain Induni: Well, thank you Eric!

About the Author

Eric Enge is the Founder and President of Stone Temple Consulting (STC). STC offers Internet marketing optimization services, including SEO, Social Media and PPC optimization, and its web site can be found at: http://www.stonetemple.com.

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