Free Your Mind: Analytics Team Structure

 
A strong analytics program isn’t just about implementing the right solutions; it’s also about having the right people in place to support those solutions. Two questions have caused quite a debate over the years regarding an analytics team: how many people should you have on your analytics team? How should the team be structured to deliver the best possible output for the organization?
 
With no clear-cut answer or one-size-fits-all approach that makes sense, the industry has gone back & forth without a resolution. There’s a reason for that, though: the structure of your team doesn’t matter.
 
It’s not about the team structure, but rather about ensuring you have the right roles, skills and processes in place across the organization. So instead of focusing on where people should live in the organization, it is much more effective to break out your needs across the core areas of your program and then find the right people, regardless of location. When we partner with a client, there are three pillars we look to help that client achieve a balance across while marching towards the long-term vision for their program:

Strategy

Implementation

Insight

 
Each pillar of your analytics program will require specific roles and responsibilities to be filled on a daily basis. As you find those people, it’s important that you get them aligned on the cause and dedicated to the program, with a little help from your executive sponsor. It’s also OK to initially delegate multiple roles to one person while you are waiting for your program to take off.  I’ll spend the rest of this newsletter outlining some of those roles for each of the pillars as well as some bonus content for specific initiatives.
 

Strategy

It is important to have people that own the direction and course for your analytics program both from a business and technical perspective. The following roles are integral to your analytics program:
 
  • Executive Sponsor
  • Business Strategy Lead
  • Technical Strategy Lead
  • Governance Lead
 
Here is where the long-referred to “executive sponsorship” is critical - the executive sponsor is going to be the person you rely on to help you align the resources across all 3 pillars. This person acts as an enablement vehicle for your entire program. 
 
Your business and technical leads will act as the yin and yang for your entire program. You need to have two people who understand the needs of the business and can translate that into the right technology and processes to get the right data to the right people at the right time. From there, once you have the datasets created, you need to have someone in charge of governance that ultimately will ensure the organization uses the correct data to answer business questions. It is also important to note that this team needs to own global adoption in the form of training and operationalizing the data as your program grows.

 

Implementation

Implementation isn’t just about turning the lights on and hoping for the best; it’s a much more involved process and a successful implementation goes beyond ensuring you deploy a particular technology accurately. You need to think about how that technology should fit with other technology and processes, based upon the business requirements. For these reasons, the following roles are required:
 
  • Dataset Owners
  • Business Requirements Lead
  • Technical Implementation Lead
  • IT Partner
  • JavaScript experts
 
Implementing technology initially should involve a tandem team of a business requirements and technical implementation lead. These leads should use a combination of the vision set forth by the strategy team as well as the specific business requirements to create a solution design that is scalable and flexible for the organization. Every technology you implement should have an owner, someone who owns the rubber stamp for that particular solution and ensures the data remains accurate over time. 
 
When it comes to actually implementing the solution design, you’ll need an IT partner and someone (or a group) with JavaScript skills. Almost all of the analytics technology you are implementing will involve JavaScript and if you want to be able to bend (but not break) the solution, you’ll need people with finesse in the JavaScript realm.

 

Insight

Your data is telling a story, and the moral of that story is the key to unlocking the real value of analytics. When you have the right data going to the right people at the right time, you need to take that next step and derive insight from that data. We collect data for the purposes of taking action, and to do this effectively, you need the following roles:
 
  • Report Owners
  • Business Analysts
  • Data Scientists
 
Report owners should oversee the entire automation process of operationalizing the data throughout the organization. They ensure that the data is accurate and that any anomalies are explained before that data reaches the hands of the report consumers and analysts. Depending on your level of sophistication out of the gate, you’ll need business analysts and data scientists to help make sense of the data, identify the low hanging fruit and ultimately provide recommendations and next steps for improving the customer experience.
 
 

Tag Management (TMS)

If you listen to the marketing messages put forth by tag management vendors, one might think that IT support isn’t required to complete implementations. With all due respect, that couldn’t be farther from the truth – read my previous newsletter about the politics of analytics to learn more about this topic
 
Don’t get me wrong, our clients who have implemented TMS are doing impressive things with their data and are experiencing a level of maturity that they never could have achieved without TMS.  It’s still important, however, to have someone assigned to each of the roles outlined in the “Implementation” section of this newsletter. In addition, there is another role/skill you need to have in your organization:
  • jQuery Experts
jQuery is a JavaScript library that will help you streamline all of your TMS rules and data layer designs. If you want to truly harness the power of TMS, make sure this skill exists in your team.
 

A/B and Multivariate Testing

Your optimization team is an extension of your “Insight" team. This team will require the “Implementation” team to get your testing vendor deployed appropriately and the “Insight" team to identify the areas of opportunity for the solution. In addition, the following roles will enrich your program as well as make it more agile:
  • HTML Expert
  • Creative Design
There is no doubt that even the most simplistic tests will require HTML modifications, stylesheet changes, etc. You need to have someone that can manipulate your pages and content to create the necessary variants for your testing. In addition, you’ll want to have a creative arm in place to help you with design and messaging.  
 
 
Overall, there is no silver bullet when it comes to building your analytics team. In order to avoid wasted time and effort, you should focus on the skills and roles needed and worry less about centralizing that team or the general location of those resources. With the right level of executive sponsorship, and a clearly defined strategy, you will be able to allocate the right team for the cause.
 

 

 

By Bill Bruno
About the Author:

Bill Bruno is the CEO - North America, Ebiquity.

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