Five Trends and Challenges Facing Analytics Leaders

By Rusty Rahmer posted 01-07-2020 12:36 PM

In October, at the global DAA OneConference, I was privileged to lead an elite group of analytics leaders (formally known as the DAA Corporate Member Leader Forum) through a discussion on the evolution and trends in organizational design around digital analytics and digital analytics teams. The discussion was well attended, lively, and even heated at times… this group never disappoints… with several new trends in organizational design and challenges emerging.

Growth – Not that long ago digital analytics teams consisted of you and maybe another analyst. As companies continue to embrace data and analytics, our numbers inside organizations are swelling into small armies to support the high demand for digital insights.

Decentralization – Where once Digital Analytics “centers of excellence” were centralized… now the trend is to distribute the resources (and costs) out to the business lines and have a “dotted line” back to smaller center of excellence. The trend toward this model is no doubt a byproduct of the growing number of analysts inside organizations and the desire to move the costs out of centralized cost-centers and distribute the costs out to the revenue generating business lines. This pay-to-play model left behind a small center of excellence to facilitate community of practice, own tools, support configuration and implementations. It is also part of the movement toward agile marketing, and product/service development pods that are bringing all needed disciplines together to collaborate and innovate with greater speed and velocity.

Depth – Specialization is also an emerging trend hitting our organizational designs. No longer is there the do-it-all digital analyst. Now we have expert analysts who specialize in sub-disciplines of digital analytics such as SEO/SEM Analysts, Optimization Leads, Tagging Engineers, Personalization Leads, Audience Managers, and Multi-Solution Architects. The expertise in these sub-disciplines is driving ever increasing sophistication and efficiency in key areas where optimization has great benefit to organizations and adding new/exciting career paths for digital analytics generalist, but it can also create organizational challenges and competition for digital budget. Best practices seemed to be to roll digital investment up and balance it holistically across your digital strategy; avoid siloed decisioning.

Communication – A few years ago if an analyst needed to know “How is this data element being collected” or “When did the new site go live” or “When was that data outage” you simply turned and ask the person sitting next to you who created the tag or who did the analysis. Now in world of growing teams and analytics resources distributed in business lines across the company, that conversation (and so many others) are increasingly complex to find/source an answer to. Creating shared learnings across the community of practice has become a very big challenge. Fortunately, software vendors have picked up on this challenge early. Many new analytics collaboration/sharing tools are starting to emerge to help solve these challenges and make analysts across the company more efficient and effective, instead of rediscovering the same already known information.

Training and Development – The pace of growth in the field has left the front line of analytics without much of a supply line. Corporate training teams haven’t had a chance to develop trainings, training programs, or development/career maps for the growing percentage of employees that are filling analytics roles. Entry level analysts are likely to feel the pain of this the most, as development will largely fall to busy leaders and their own self-directed learning. Many agencies and consulting firms, who have historically excelled at bringing in entry level talent and coaching them up, have developed formalized and robust mentorship programs to partner less tenured analysts with experts in their respective discipline to help them in areas needed or interested development. This will likely evolve into an excellent best-practice for the industry while internal training teams and programs catch up.

Despite all these new trends and challenges facing analytics leaders, there are still two constants. One is change. The industry is nowhere close to achieving a steady state yet, and it won’t be for years, as more and more data comes online, demanding integrations and analytics with bigger and more sophisticated tools. Secondly, this inevitable change will continue to require the passion of analytics leaders to embrace the challenges, as well as the opportunity to test ideas and develop new ways for their teams to adapt to solve tests facing them. Accepting both these constants, with an eye to the future, will help our analytics leaders and organizations continue to develop analytics teams that are well prepared to enter into the next decade.



01-21-2020 12:40 PM

@Aaron Maass - Great question! So short answer... no, technical solutions to the need for global data/insights/knowledge collaboration​ was not part of the conversation... mostly just the growing points of pain and realization that a real NEED for a solution was emerging. Now, that said, one of the emerging tech trends/discussions at DA Hub this year (specifically at @David McBride's Unsummit session) was/were technology solutions being developed to foster enterprise collaboration and sharing in the analytics space. @Bob Page for example, gave an excellent presentation on Neebo's ​​virtual analytics hub solution which targeted this very opportunity. So I think some great solutions like Neebo are out there ahead of the curve, and others are certain to follow as this becomes and increasing challenge for enterprise organizations.

01-20-2020 10:24 AM

Rusty, what were some of the tools that were discussed to help with communication and pulling the decision-making process out of the hands of a select few and putting it into the hands of more people within the organization?

01-08-2020 10:41 AM

With so many tools, tech stacks, and opportunities it has been a pleasure hearing all the different journeys DAA members are taking towards finding their answers. My favorite part of our industry is how willing everyone is to offer help. I'm looking forward to a big 2020! 🎉

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