May 08, 2007

Around The Horn

Random thoughts:

  • The Web Analytics folks are missing a major opportunity to understand customer behavior across visits, over time. I completed a Multichannel Forensics project for a website with numerous merchandise divisions. The visual representation of customer behavior was breathtaking ... this website is literally a visual representation of our Solar System. One merchandise line was like the sun --- it represented the gravity that kept the whole customer system in place. At least two other merchandise lines were like planets, with their own moons rotating around them. A few of the merchandise lines were not part of the gravitational pull of the whole system(website). When communicated properly, an Executive team can finally understand how customers interact with a website, over time. Web analysts and clickstream vendors have a huge opportunity to grow, to change, to understand customer behavior over time. Conversely, you SAS and SPSS folks who have always analyzed catalog and retail customer behavior --- this is your brief moment in time to make a difference. Do something with your data now, before the web analytics folks figure this out.
  • Corporate America has an opportunity to allow employees to do more work from home. We really struggled with this during my time at Nordstrom. My employees could honestly do 60% or more of their work from home. Broadband internet access changes everything. Of course, you worry about people not doing their job while working at home. A manager could measure employees on productivity, and if the employee were productive, who cares where the employee produces work? I woke up at 6:00am today, was working at 6:45am, and wrapped things up by 2:45pm. This allowed me to re-wire a pond pump and lighting system, visit a hardware store, pick up prescriptions, clean outdoor furniture, pull weeds, all before 5:00pm. I did all of this with the cell phone right next to me, just in case somebody needed something. I didn't spend two hours in a car, traveling to work at 14mph, listening to the "morning zoo" on the radio. How much more productive would our employees be if we gave them a little bit of work/life flexibility? How much happier would employees be? I'll tell you, I was one happy worker today, with 72 degree temperatures and blue skies amplifying my experience.
  • Multichannel Forensics in action in the music industry: Consumers have changed their behavior in a post-iPod world --- this music industry insider believes marketers and musicians/artists must change as well. Catalog industry executives need to monitor what is happening in other industries that are being flattened by the internet. Music is one of those industries.


  1. Anonymous4:43 AM

    Could you share more information about that project? It seems VERY interesting. I like your "call to action" to the WA and BI people to start to integrate!

  2. I can't share too much about the project. Basically, I was asked to demonstrate how customer purchase behavior changes over the course of time.

    Think about it like this ... At Amazon, Books represent "the sun" ... they might be the thing that keeps customers coming back again and again. Without books, Amazon would probably lose relevance.

    DVDs or CDs might be like planets orbiting Books ... customers buy a DVD, but then go back and buy books.

    Apparel could be a like a separate planet, with Accessories being a moon that rotates around Apparel. It could be that customers who purchase Apparel also decide to purchase Accessories. However, the Accessories buyer might then go back to buying Apparel. Accessories would be like a moon, rotating around Apparel.

    If Apparel buyers didn't buy books, then Apparel would be like a planet that is cut off from the solar system.

    This is, of course, fictional in nature ... I don't know what the relationships are at Amazon. But the concept matches what I am trying to accomplish with this specific project. I build the relationships, map them, and then build a simulation to illustrate what will happen to the business over the next five years, with or without various product classifications represented on the website.

  3. Anonymous5:02 PM

    kevin - sounds a little like visual sciences, now a division of web side story (hbx). accurate? developed for the nsa, visual sciences, used by delta, target, and dell, "visualizes" click stream and purchase behavior. the big nut is monitoring it over time. we used it at a fortune 50 retailer and to be honest, it was almost too much horsepower; we just didn't have the skills in-house to completely leverage the full capabilities.

    in your example, were you running a one time analysis or developing an ongoing report? i find the one-time analysis fairly common, but replicating on a continual basis pretty difficult to operationalize (i hate that word). just curious.

    love the blog, by the way.

  4. This was a one-time analysis. I don't think this is the kind of stuff that you do more than annually, at best. The world just doesn't change enough to require frequent reporting.

    And yes, it requires folks with a certain mindset to capitalize on it.

    Thanks for reading and commenting!


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