Meet Stéphane Hamel at eMetrics Stockholm

I’ve interviewed Stéphane Hamel, Cardinal Path, about his upcoming presentation at eMetrics Stockholm in September.

Tell those who, unlike me, don’t know you a little about yourself.

It could be a long story! I started nearly 25 years ago as a software developer, analyst, system administrator and DBA for a research project—with access to the Internet. When the web came out, I had the chance to install a server so we could document our research, and I naturally looked at log files—just like any other IT system.

Be it in my days at the Montreal Stock Exchange, at Softimage, a break-through 3D animation software company, at Bombardier Recreational Products manufacturing, or Desjardins financial & insurance services, and many others, I gained experience listening to business requirements and striving to come up with original, yet optimal and realistic, solutions.

To strengthen my skills I completed an eBusiness MBA, and on top of my role as Director of Strategic Services at Cardinal Path I also teach a graduate-level course on digital analytics from a managerial perspective, have been tutoring the UBC web analytics program for years, do R&D on both the technical and conceptual aspects of web analytics: WASP (now owned by iPerceptions), gaAddons, the Online Analytics Maturity Model (OAMM for short)… I served on the Web Analytics Association board of directors, I’m quite active in the web analytics community on Twitter, Google+ and locally.

You’re going to talk about your Online Analytics Maturity Model. What compelled you to create it, and why should organizations use it?

It was a coincidence based on two things: first, there was a debate amongst my peers about whether web analytics was hard or not—a topic that surfaced again in the last couple of days! Second, I was completing my MBA and was looking for a good topic. At first, the University asked me if I could create a course on web analytics, but I asked to spend more time and looked into why so many organizations are failing at web analytics while some of them really become analytical competitors, as Tom Davenport would put it. I did interviews, leveraged my own experience as a practitioner and consultant, looked at other disciplines such as marketing, finance, business analysis, business intelligence, etc. It turned into a much better course and a proposal for the OAMM.

Models are no magic, they are imperfect and evolve over time, and that’s OK. That being said, OAMM is an incredible opportunity to take a step back and think about your, and your organizations’, strengths and weaknesses. Lots of people would like to use it as a benchmark, but I recommend doing an introspection before looking at others. Engage your managers and business stakeholders in the process, and use it as a change management tool and a great way to spark discussions!

Who should listen to your presentation?

I would be tempted to say “everyone”! From junior analysts, to senior executives, the concepts exposed in the OAMM will help web analysts better understand how they are contributing to the overall business, and executives will get a better grasp on why the web analyst role is really one of change agent.

What role does eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit play in the field of web analytics and testing?

eMetrics is the must attend event for anyone in the field. eMetrics is our de-facto industry event, and the official event of the WAA where practitioners, consultants, vendors and anyone gravitating around our field get together. I first attended in 2007 and I’ve since been every year, speaking over 15 times in San Francisco, Washington, Toronto, London, Paris and for the first time, Stockholm!

At eMetrics I met people who inspired and helped me in my crazy projects: Jim Sterne, Avinash Kaushik, and Bryan Eisenberg. I met people who I’m now closely involved with at Cardinal Path: John Hossack, Alex Langshur, and Justin Cutroni. I met some of the 700+ students I tutored at UBC over the years, and I met clients and prospects. In fact, I’ve met so many people that I should stop here!

You have spoken at eMetrics in many locations, and been a key driver for eMetrics Toronto. What do you hope to get out of eMetrics Stockholm?

The challenges we face in our web analytics practices are pretty much universal. Sharing my work in Stockholm is a great opportunity to continue to gather feedback from the field that will contribute and encourage me to continue working on this long and tedious project. Of course, in the same vein as the previous question, I’ll get to meet people I’ve only met virtually and renew with old acquaintance: yourself, Brian Clifton, Steve Jackson, and many others.

So, once and for all, is web analytics hard or easy, and should we talk about marketing optimization or business optimization?

Building a cathedral during the middle ages was hard, landing on the moon was hard and complex, resolving the economic crisis is pretty darn hard… Running a business is hard. As analysts who are supposed to measure and optimize; analyze a complex business environment and processes, we’re not very credible if we keep running around complaining our job is hard! Go ahead, ask anyone at your workplace if their job is hard—any disciplines—from the guy sweeping the floor at night up to senior executives. Guess the answer! (Hint: if they don’t say it’s hard.. they should be fired!)

Yes, indeed, web analytics is hard when we don’t address and keep a balance between the six critical process areas exposed in the OAMM! So, is web analytics easy? Maybe not, and that’s why our field is so interesting! Stop complaining and do something about it today! Register for eMetrics Stockholm!

Marketing optimization or business optimization? I believe our job as analysts is to understand a business context, get the facts— the data, understand the process, and come up with the most optimal and realistic recommendations (and yes, creativity plays a role in here too!) That begins with our ability to understand our own job and the process of doing analytics. Next, you’ll certainly agree marketing is a process..

Voilà! I prefer to think in terms of business optimization just as much as I think of analytics rather than the more narrowly focused “web analytics.”

Believe me, the future is bright for analytics and business optimization!