Back to Basics: Event Analytics for the Non-analytical – Part 1

As consultants and analysts, we all want to deliver on visions of a new kind of socially enabled enterprise, much like the promises offered at Dreamforce, but there are pivotal challenges that will ultimately decrease the likelihood for real success stories, if the core language and educational challenges go unaddressed.  One reality is that many VARs and even more customers don’t speak in terms of data intelligence at all yet, much less words like social, engaging, listening, monitoring, and analysis which have now been added to the business lexicon. We have to simplify it and make it easier, especially for SMB’s with lean staffing.  In an effort to aid the non-analytical, but eager masses, this will be a very basic ‘how to’ guide series for organizations on how to take smaller sips from the firehose, and chew on new knowledge nuggets in smaller, more easily digestible morsels.

Frameworks are useful. Development has Agile. Project Management has Prince2. How about a basic framework for smoothly integrating monitoring and analytics into their business? There is a critical need for a widespread basic methodology as a starting point. I’m not suggesting this series will be that kind of framework, but let’s start by giving some simple steps in simple language as a starting point.

If we shift our thinking away from use cases and toward specific events, we quickly recognize that we can iterate how social, listening and monitoring are woven into the processes that are affected by events. And we can guide customers to build more value and intelligence into their services as a result.  We can also teach an invaluable set of basic principles for understanding better how to market, monitor, respond and analyze activities and insights, in phases and as a whole – regardless of whether users have fancy new tools or are performing manual analysis.

Given that there are different use cases & needs across organizations – there is no ‘one scenario to rule them all’ – the key to better story-telling, messaging and use understanding is to present using a standard basic, but infinitely flexible theme. The basics – while there are unique requirements and goals for every business, ALL businesses share one commonality:

Whether large or small, all organizations have events – planned and unplanned.

(They might not call them events, but that is what they are.)

  1. All orgs have events, whether planned or unplanned
  2. Events can have internal, external, or a combination of both audiences
  3. Events may include any combination of: customers, partners, prospects/leads, supply chain, vendors, employees, VARs, competitors, influencers, public, media, industry interests.

In simple terms, an event might be planned like a new product launch, a marketing campaign, a webinar series, or attendance at an industry conference or trade show. Unplanned events might be something like a natural disaster that affects business, loss of wireless connection during a big conference, or it might even be a single negative tweet that spreads across the internet. Once you shift the story to begin understanding that you can look at most business and social activities as events, it becomes easier to begin to analyze them using a very simple method: break the event nuggets into bite-sized, chewable, digestible bites.

ALL events can minimally be broken down into Before, During, After phases

With that basic shift in perspective, non-analytically inclined business users can now begin to ask relevant, intelligent questions to determine where listening, engagement, response, community building, follow-ups and sentiment might fit into their business processes and KPI’s at each phase. It is as simple as repeating these steps over and over – before, during and after every event – rinse and repeat infinitely to improve your value offerings and business intelligence:

  • Monitor
  • Feedback
  • Assign
  • Action
  • Response
  • Process
  • Analyze

Using the event method, you have:

  •  two kinds of listening/data mining/analysis – confirmation (searching for knowns) and discovery – searching for unknowns using layered data that builds over time
  • and two kinds of responses – real-time recovery/action and longer term strategies/initiatives generation

You can:

  • tell stories with a better narrative flow – you can can show cause to correlation
  • Build your own framework for consistent analysis – measured across multiple dimensions, data points and metrics
  • It’s repeatable – can repeat on infinite events or over and over on the same event – like a negative tweet turned into a happy customer
  • From a fan page ‘like’ to an international story making headlines – when examined under the same basic framework  it is easier to decide what drove success and failure at each phase.

Take it a step further and think a head to audit, governance and risk management for your organization. All social conversations and activities (events in and of themselves,) can be linked to a specific point in time. Whether creating policy or running recovery strategies, what happens before, during & after are critical considerations.

If you leap even further ahead, you’re now also providing a solid foundation for doing predictive analytics for future events based on activities by phase during earlier events. Ultimately, customers and business users can begin to build their own maturity model and better understand how to merge activities and analysis into their own unique processes more readily.

We’ve established that all organizations have events, but many look at those events as a whole project, or as singular unrelated happenings.  Businesses can improve their own value offerings by defining goals, KPIs, process adjustments, and activities – before, during and after events, large or small. It all starts with a basic understanding of layering data and the value of infinite intelligence loops.

Like hula hoops, the more loops you can spin and longer you can keep them off the ground, the healthier & more fit you are… and healthier businesses can deliver better service and value.

Next up in Part 2 of this series, we’ll explore how to use this basic method to plan a trade show event and incorporate engagement, community building, customer service and analysis into each phase of the event.


For Community Managers: Start a Game of Blog Tag – You’re it!

Image credit to

Community Managers and Conversation Architects are always looking for fresh ideas to increase activity and engagement.  I’d suggest a lively game of Blog Tag! The great thing about tag is that while one or more players chase other players in an attempt to tag or touch them, there aren’t many rules, no teams required, no scores, or equipment. All you need to do is shout, ‘Game on!‘ and tag the first person to get them off and running.

I’ve written before about a past employer, Exact Software, and the truly great experience it was working for an organization that genuinely encouraged collaboration among their many employees world-wide, and blog tag is a good example of how they did so. Here’s how it works (I’ll give a sample entry at the end of the post):

First, create a blog template with questions that members/employs will answer. Some examples –
  • How long have you worked at/been a member of  _________?
  • What’s exciting about working at __________ ?
  • What are you doing tomorrow?
  • What’s the most exciting thing that has happened to you since you joined _______?
  • What’s the next event (work or personal) that you’re looking forward to?
  • What’s your favorite book, movie, cd, etc. (You get the gist – tailor to suit your own community.)
  • Do you have any suggestions for games, events, or outings for our community?
  • And lastly – and this is the most important one  – include the TAG action: “I asked the next colleague to write a message: (name + hyperlink to profile) because…”
  • Now that you’ve created the template, the next step is to create a landing page or discussion area for the Blog Tag.
Announce the game and post any rules, if there are any.
  • Examples might include a suggestion that people tag members outside of their own department or region. This encourages members to highlight people outside of their usual community cliques.
  • Suggest that posters include links, media, video
  • Include at least one example – your own – and work your manager magic behind the scenes by inviting (tagging) members in each area of your community to get the game going.
Monitor the game
  • Comment!
  • If you see a bottleneck or things slowing down a bit, tag someone else yourself and encourage others to do so
  • As new members join the community or work space, invite them to play as a great ‘get to know you’
  • Likewise, if this is a work community, resurface departing employees’ past tag entry as part of a fun send off. ‘Remember this?’
You get the idea. Blog Tag really spurs new discoveries and conversations for as long as you can keep the game going. (No idea if it is still going at Exact, but we started the first round back in 2004 and when I left years later it was still going strong!) Want to see a sample?  Here’s my entry for blog from Exact (I’ve removed links to the community profiles, but you can imagine how you’d link to your own members & coworkers). I hope you’ll learn from this and start your own game of tag.

You’re IT!


Kelly Craft tells us about “It’s all in the Game at Exact” by Kelly Craft, 20-09-2004

1. How long have you been working for Exact and what was your impression of Exact when you joined the company?I’ve been working with Exact software for almost 2 years. My first impression was that Exact would be an interesting place to work. It still is.

2. What is so exciting about working at Exact?Raindrops on roses, And whiskers on kittens, Bright copper kettles, And warm woolen mittens, Brown paper packages, Tied up with strings… Oops, wrong list – those are Julie Andrews’ favorite things, these are a few of my favorite exciting Exact things:

  • my cherished stash of Exact photos, some of which finally get to see the light of day here
  • My Canadian Coworkers on the infamous “Boston via Montreal” roadtrip – these guys are the best team around and as you can see, fun travel companions! Each and every one of them is hard-working, vibrant, multi-faceted and look great in hats.
  • My Boss, Leslie, who is a wonderful and knowledgeable mentor, manager and nice person, unless you win at the Casino and she doesn’t. 🙂
  • Sharing a little Canadian culture (Beer bucket hat on Big Kahuna Foundervisiting from NL!)
  • Making sure that Aad will never find the Canadian office on his own. A different scenic route every time.
  • Enjoying cold beverages, territory fields, “what if…?” and appetizers in Delft with Jeroen, Reinald and Donnie on a Friday evening, then taking the wrong door inside Poortweg 6 and wandering the locked stairwells for 40 minutes (worrying all the while that I would miss my plane home to Canada the next morning) before I finally got the courage to risk setting the alarm off and left through an outside door. I’m still not sure which was funnier, the earlier company of these Gentlemen, or getting locked in and lost in HO on my last night in Delft.
  • Planting myself firmly in front of Leo and Bart and pleading my case with a very tongue-in-cheek, “But I flew all the way from Canada to get this issue fixed!” They laughed, fixed the bug and kicked me back to the Rental team. Now I need a new line, they’re on to me.
  • The Columbus EDI team, who are probably still breathing sighs of relief that my short-lived stint doing EDI has ended
  • Interesting and helpful e-Synergy resources: Mike, Amy, Marion, Brian, Anne, Bridget, Candace, Cynthia, Alex
  • NA Management who actually read my SPAM: “Matt, she wrote me a thesis, should I read it?” ;->

3. What was your most exciting experience since you joined Exact (can be work, private)?

The happiest personal experience I have had since working for Exact has been moving into our new house last September. And travelling all over is also great. But the most exciting experience, (as in heart-stopping chills and thrills every minute), has been handing a set of car keys over to my green-eyed Baby Girl. I just keep hoping she never takes her driving lessons from my coworkers, Jasper & Duane , Canadian 401 “Autobahn” racers extraordinaire.

4. What are you going to do tomorrow?

Tomorrow I will be working on integrating 4 Progression databases into a consolidated e-Synergy for a very nice customer, and working with some PACES data to merge with e-Synergy for another wonderful Wisdom customer. And I hope to finalize my Engage presentation so I can keep Deanna happy because she and her team work so hard to make our Exact corporate events run like clockwork. Or then again, maybe I will write a Dr. Seuss style Exact manual: “GUIDS here, GUIDS there, GUIDS! GUIDS everywhere!”

5. Tell us about your last ‘event’ at Exact.

My last big Exact Event was EPIC this past Spring in gorgeous Scottsdale, Arizona, where I met many Business Partners and resources like John , got a great tan, saw things I’d never seen before: “We are so not in Ohio anymore!” and realized that we really do need a remote Canadian office in Arizona. Alisia and I would go back just to go out to dinner again. ;->

6. Which future Exact event are you looking forward to?

Engage in Chicago this October will be interesting. I am looking forward to spending time with the customers and Business Partners I’ve worked with and finally meeting some of my favourite coworkers in person.

7. Which sports would you advise your colleagues to join, and why?

Rollerskating. Cheesy old music and you can have pom-poms on your feet. Does it get any better than that?

8. What’s your favorite book?

My favourite book is ‘The Past Through Tomorrow’ a collection of some of the best short stories by Robert A. Heinlein. I recommend it, especially for two special Delft co-workers, Arjan and Woyzeck, who think my reading selections have very odd covers. Mind you, their taste in beer is even more obscure.


9. What’s your favorite CD?

Joe Satriani’s ‘Surfing With the Alien’ “Satriani burst onto the scene as the most visible guitar “wizard” since Eddie Van Halen, and is the one-time teacher of a number of metal hotshots, including Steve Vai and Kirk Hammett. Good rhythms set him apart from many other six-string specialists, though there are plenty of innovative lead techniques as well. Though he incorporates some singing into his work on later releases, all tracks are instrumental here. “Satch Boogie” became the modern-day “Eruption” when it was released, as it is tight, building, and compact. The title track has a solid flow, “Circles” features a nice kick-in, and a metallic churning backbone pushes “Crushing Day”. One of Satch’s best numbers ever surfaces in the form of “Always With Me, Always With You.” This is a beautiful, majestically-played slow piece, and excellent from start to finish. A great disc to get for the guitar guru, especially if you can pick up techniques by ear. You’ll learn a lot from this one. ”

I have to agree entirely with this review. I love the whole album, but “Always With Me, Always With You” is also my personal favourite and is the most hauntingly beautiful song I have ever heard.

10. What’s your favorite TV program?

Any news program .

11. Finally, do you have any suggestions / ideas for a sport, work or fun event within Exact?

Laser tag: Sales vs. Consultants, Customer Support vs. Developers and Management vs. ? ;-> (Watch out for our controller, Jocelyn, aka “Rambo Mama”)

12. I asked the next colleague to write a message: (name + hyperlink to profile) because….

I would like Paul Kramer to tell what it’s like,

To be 6’1″ on  a little guy’s trike,

In the Great Ballroom Race,

He set a fast pace,

And won over the marketing psyche!