What’s expected of an analytics professional in 2020?

By Feras Alhlou posted 01-08-2020 01:30 PM


As analytics experts, we’re expected to advance the use of data to understand and improve the world (see DAA’s mission and vision here). 

Many years ago, there was a public debate on whether analytics was easy or hard. It’s easy because you can learn as you go. It’s hard because you have to tie it back to revenue and profitability. Analytics is like any other discipline: you need to put in 10,000 hours to master it. This holds especially true in 2020, a year and a decade fraught with challenges for marketers and analytics professionals as they navigate the evolving digital world. Mastery, dedication to the craft, and a commitment to continuing education are all key to success. 

Challenges ahead

Whether you work as a practitioner or a consultant or happen to be on the tech vendor side, there’s already so much to tackle:

  • pervasive and insidious data quality issues
  • ever-expanding martech stack
  • a plethora of reporting and data viz tools
  • integrations that leave so much to be desired (and much to be integrated!)
  • incomplete, leaking data lake
  • spotty and blurry 360 view of the customer
  • exponential increase in ways consumers interact with brands

Beyond these classic challenges, 2020 will challenge us to attribute the effectiveness of an Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality brand experience, or maybe an experiential ad, or tracking influencer marketing, to name a few.

Operational challenges abound. You might not get the budget to hire this sharp applicant who wowed you with her data modelling techniques. Or retain that consultant who brought instant domain knowledge of your latest analytics & CRM integration project. And yes, you have to do all your day-to-day work, in the middle of your own marketing upgrades and a mobile app redesign.

Martech continues its march towards consolidation, and as you await the promised business benefits of these developments, it’s one more thing for you to keep track of.

And just when you think you have a handle on the above, your friendly corporate lawyer sends you a note saying that your website may be “non-compliant”, along with an overzealous executive directive to remove all tracking software. Now you need to engage execs and attorneys in a meaningful discussion on the privacy landscape and meeting GDPR and CCPA requirements, keeping your plans for user-centric marketing and UX on track and also keep privacy top of mind.

None of the considerations above are hypothetical. You might not be hit with all of it at once, but I’ve been around this space since 2003 and have seen many perfect storms. So be ready. Don’t lose hope and don’t let the challenges distract you from your goal of advancing the use of data in your organization. 

Analytics affirmations for a new decade

  • Trust in your ability to conquer these new challenges. Find time to read about CCPA, privacy, new platforms, etc. Make it a daily habit. You’re only limited by your knowledge and curiosity. 
  • Experiment and validate. Try new tools, stand up a culture of testing & optimization, and share results across the organization.
  • Connect with the analytics community. Follow some thought leaders,seek mentors you can trust, and model your behavior after theirs. Over the years, I’ve met dozens of brilliant folks in our community who are super generous with their time and knowledge - don't be afraid to bounce your ideas off them. And here’s a plug: you can find most of these smart and helpful people in the DAA, so join, be active, take advantage of the many resources, and don't forget to help others.
  • Communicate and collaborate: have an appreciation of what it takes to be successful in an organization. I'm not just referring to your own abilities and capabilities, but also to those of your stakeholders. To succeed, you’re going to need both logic and magic! You’ll need the analytical and the creative and every shade in between. You’ll need the blessings of the CFO, and of course, an executive sponsor, and you’ll need great technical and business partners. You can’t do it on your own. And always be clear and specific about the benefits of your analytics effort to each stakeholder. . reach out and show them that you truly care!
  • Last but not least, increase your sense of gratitude! The unknowns and challenges bring along many opportunities for professional development and career advancement.  Some industries are contracting; some cities are hurting. For us women and men in the analytics space, we’re lucky to be directly involved at the early stages of the huge digital transformations that companies are undertaking. Consequently, growth opportunities are abundant. 

Put in the time, keep learning, stay ahead of trends, connect with like-minded people, and take full advantage of being in an expansive yet tight-knit and supportive community. Here's to our individual and collective growth and achievements in the new decade!




01-11-2020 03:18 PM

Thank you @Marianne Koiva and @Garrett Mark Scott! ​​

01-09-2020 03:00 PM

Great article, thank you!

01-09-2020 12:00 AM

So much excitement in all the chaos!

For 2020, I'm looking forward to attending more local programing meetups as databases, code, and marketing continue to merge and talking about how the different systems can communicate (while staying compliant of course). Maybe even find some "free" time to gain a better understanding of statistics! And, oh yeah, the day-to-day still need to be done 😆

Maybe it's time to upgrade our coffee machines... @Tesla

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