Here's the original copy of an article I wrote for online-behavior.com. You can see the published version here if you like. It's based on my presentation at the Seattle Digital Analytics Association which I have to say was a whole lot of fun.
A new generation of digital analysis tools are arriving. A generation where speed is king and customer data is united. If you have been buried with reports and analysis from the typical tools then take a break and check out these six modern analytics tools.
“Capture everything” is the theme of Heap Analytics. Similar to tag management a small snippet of code is added to the site. Then a flood of data begins to roll into the system. This data comes in raw in the form of an event feed. Every click, tap, swipe and page is captured. Using the interface these actions are labeled “Facebook Like” or “Twitter Follow”. Super Events can then be created which are a combination of events. In our example “Social actions” would be a super event containing “Facebook Like” and “Twitter Follow”.
If data was not captured “right”, simply re-label it. New pages can be shipped anytime without waiting for an analytics QA. Once the events are defined, then the real magic of Heap takes over.
Unlike other analytic tools which group data fundamentally by page view, Heap organizes by visitor first. If there is no Visitor ID specified, it uses its own Visitor ID. Then when segments are defined such as “People who partially complete a form” the individuals who make up the segment can be listed. Further, the event stream related to each customer is attached to the ID so it’s possible to easily see the paths each person followed as they fell into your defined segment.
Lytics.io is part of a new generation of tools designed to connect all your customer data and then turn around and power other marketing tools with sharply refined segments. Lytics can start with a small pool of data such as email addresses or web logs, then using a proprietary matching technology, it adds color to the customer record using external data sources from Rapleaf, Facebook and keyword search data. The end effect is the creation of a “gold customer record” using an ever-sharpening picture of your customer.
Using a series of rules, very fine segments can be created that use triggers to send emails, post messages or otherwise reach out to the customer. The customer record includes active internet times, active locations, active devices, subjects of interest, demographic and psychographic data.
Nectar Online Media specializes in “hyperpersonalization” driven by the unification of social media streams. Nectar also unites data to form a holistic view of the customer, however the goal is execution of speedy triggers designed to nudge customers into action at exactly the right time. For example, Ryan browses pages on your site showing the various models of cameras you sell. He spends a lot of time on one specific model. Then he leaves but doesn’t buy it. Using data from Ryan’s Facebook stream, you see he has an event coming up… he’s going on vacation to Belize. So you post a coupon for $100 off said camera in Ryan’s Facebook newsfeed. Then you use remarketing techniques to advertise the camera and accessories to him as he browses around the web. This is hyperpersonalization.
Nectar pricing was not available. http://nectarom.com/
Right or wrong, beautiful visual presentation of data can control how much it is read and consumed. But few graphic designers have analysis knowledge and few analysts have design skills. Enter Infogr.am. Infogr.am is an online system with ready-made infographic templates as well as customizable graphs, word clouds and icons. You can also upload and embed your own graphics and video.
The system is very user-friendly. If you have data ready to go then in about 5-10 minutes you can produce your infographic. Most of that time is exploring the various customization options. Infogr.am is a static system so once the graphic is posted, you cannot drill and dig into the numbers. It’s also not designed to take in huge volumes of data. But for meaningful summaries designed to get attention, it’s exactly right.
Infogr.am is free but if you desire more templates, there is a pro version for $12/month. http://infogr.am
Automated multichannel storytelling is the way to think about Insight Rocket. This tool combines the reporting strength and flexibility of Tableau with social commentary. This is particularly useful in larger companies where there may be multiple teams, brand and commerce for example, that define the numbers in different ways. Ideally, everyone should be using the same metrics but this is not usually the case. The teams need a way to connect and agree internally before data is surfaced as “truth” to management.
Insight Rocket also has a strong data integration team to help break down data silos in the first place. So once data is combined and the Tableau reports are running, the analysts are free to dig into the data. Once an insight is found, it’s published just like a story and can be fed into email or an intranet system. Questions can be asked and answered right inline with the story.
Insight Rocket pricing ranges from $2000 - $10,000 per month depending on data sources and required support. http://www.insightrocket.com
Beyond Core represents a new frontier in data analytics. It combines true data science methods with machine learning and automated video. There are a collection of features on this tool for beginning analysts as well as seriously advanced analysts. For beginning analysis or non-analysts the guidance feature is nothing short of amazing. After data is loaded into the system, the machine takes over charting and plotting the most interesting data *and then* providing an automated, intelligent, animated voice over that describes in 2 minutes the most salient points. Since approximately 95% of the population cannot easily interpret analysis, this is an extremely useful tool. Ask any analyst who has explained what the data means multiple times to the same stakeholders how nice it would be to send this out automatically.
Beyond Core also opens its platform for advanced analysis operations. Since the system is Hadoop based, it can process millions of data rows in hours, not weeks, without sampling. As the data is loaded the analyst selects what column the system should optimize for. Then the number crunching begins to show what factors are really driving the numbers. If an obvious answer comes back (i.e. the number of uninsured patients is driving up hospital costs) simply customize the analysis by throwing out that group and run it again. The second time, the deeper correlations show up, an operation which usually takes weeks to re-run. Further, because hundreds of variables can be included, any initial variable selection bias is factored out.
Beyond Core is a self-service tool and pricing begins at $500 per month. http://beyondcore.com/
The big data revolution is driving a lot of change in digital analysis speed and tools. Senior management does not know it yet which places analysts in a wonderful position of looking like a hero.