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Article Archive by Jocelyn Ward


June 24 2013

Google Analytics Creates Superior Admin User Experience

by Jocelyn Ward

Upgraded Settings & Enhancements

You may (or may not) have noticed that the Admin tab in Google Analytics has a significantly new and different look and feel. But, those aren’t the only changes Google Analytics made to their Admin page. You can now find all major settings for your accounts, properties and profiles readily accessible right there in one place. That’s what I’m talking about – convenience and efficiency.

Upgraded Settings & Enhancements

This “dramatically streamlined user experience for managing Google Analytics administrative settings” comes with a handful of enhancements that any Admin will truly appreciate:

  • Settings are organized into columns corresponding to accounts, properties and profiles
  • You can easily change selections via drop downs at the top of each column

  • Create a new account, property or profile by clicking the appropriate menu in the column heading, and you’ll see an option to create a new object
  • Load any settings page by clicking the respective name or icon
  • Animations simplify the display of information
  • New headers and navigational links on the left

  • Help content has moved to the “Help” tab near the top right corner of the page
  • You’ll find new and refreshed information which makes account administration easier to understand

This launch has made the Admin user experience much friendlier with its simplified navigation and faster account configuration. Oh, and I did mention you can access settings in just one click versus the three it took previously? So, if you haven’t taken the time to get acquainted with the new Admin page, I encourage you to do so. You’ll be glad you did.

And, thank you to the Google Analytics team for finally making our administrative duties a lot less painful.

May 29 2013

“Big Data”: What is it? And, more importantly, what can I do with it?

by Jocelyn Ward

These are just a couple of the questions that have been plaguing industries and enterprises worldwide since the “Big Data” phenomenon surfaced. By now, most of us have heard this buzzword/phrase that has been penetrating the minds of IT and analytics professionals alike. However, many organizations are still unsure how to effectively analyze and gain new insights from it. Luckily, there are expert specialists in this field who are eager to join and guide them through their journey.

What is “Big Data?”

I’ll spare you the formal definition and put it simply: “Big Data” is everything, and it’s everywhere. “Big Data” is defined by (at least) three ‘Vs’: Volume, Velocity and Variety. And you might even hear about a fourth ‘V’ depending on which “Big Data” solution provider you’re talking to.

  • Volume: Explosive data sets that can translate into terabytes; petabytes; exabytes; zettabytes;
  • zettabytes = as much information as there are grains of sands on all the world’s beaches
  • Variety: Any type of data coming from a multitude of sources – structured, unstructured, semi-structured; numeric, non-numeric; traditional, non-traditional
  • Fourth ‘Vs’ you might come across:
  • Veracity (IBM) — Accurate, truthful and trustworthy data
  • Variability (SAS) — Data flows that may be unpredictable, inconsistent and anomalous

Now that we have a better grasp of what exactly “Big Data” is, I’d like to explore some of the complexities and challenges companies face because of it, as well, as the opportunities it presents.

Challenges & Complexities

The size, requirements, boundaries and resources of an organization, as well as the industry it’s in, can dictate the adoption of “Big Data” in addition to which obstacles will prevent them from extracting high-value impact and gaining new business insights that were previously unattainable.

However, there are a few common challenges despite the nature of the business:

  • Technology:
  • An abundance and variety of data sources and the information collected
  • Inherent complexity in processing, management and aggregation

I intentionally left out a fundamental part of the “Big Data” definition when I talked about the three or four ‘Vs’ of this concept, but this is a perfect place to sneak it in.

IDC’s definition of “Big Data” embraces the hardware, services and software that integrate, organize, manage, analyze and present the data that is characterized by the ‘Vs’ discussed at the beginning of this post.

This is why new technologies and architectures, advanced tools and platforms are needed and are continuing to be developed. These appliances will allow enterprises to leverage “Big Data” and (you guessed it) analytics.

  • Skills: Shortage of finding “expert” talent
  • Technical: Data scientists with an unparalleled level of skill to understand the interactions of a new class of technologies
  • Analytics: Data mining; statistics; business analytics; problem solving; creativity
  • Funds: Investing in new technologies & skill sets without a full awareness of what it takes

Although there are some hindrances to enterprises fully embracing this new era of “Big Data” and analytics, there are evolving approaches to conquer them. For example, the Google Analytics Premium and BigQuery integration that will be taking place toward the end of this year was just announced at the Google I/O a couple weeks ago. If you’re a GA Premium user, I’ll venture to guess that this made you smile — even if you’re not 100% sure what it’s going to mean for your business.

Check back next week when I’ll discuss what value, advantages, opportunities and possible use cases can arise from utilizing more advanced technologies, solutions, and analytics strategies such as the “Big Data” movement. Stay tuned!

May 20 2013

Google Analytics Premium Gets Interactive with BigQuery Integration

by Jocelyn Ward

Google Analytics Premium customers smiled a little brighter yesterday after one specific announcement was made at the Google I/O. An additional feature, Google BigQuery, is planned to become available to Google Analytics Premium users later this year.

Talk about a game changer. This goes far beyond just Web Analytics and opens the doors to a tremendous scope of opportunities. But, the basics are just amazing enough to make me anxiously call out a couple of them.

Access and query your Google Analytics data alongside and in combination with any of the other data sets your company derives for its business intelligence needs; all in a matter of seconds. I’m talking about trillions of rows of data right at your fingertips. Really, you can export the data, print it out and touch it if you’d like.

As if Web Analytics data isn’t multifaceted enough, there is an abundance of other data sets companies collect that are just as intricate and essential to running their businesses. With more and more organizations aware of the “big data” phenomenon, key stakeholders are starting to ask more complex questions and are leaning on their analysts for the insights to make better-informed business decisions. And they should.

This exercise can be daunting; exhausting; frustrating and sometimes near impossible. And, chances are most time is spent trying to query, join, and report on the correct data which means less time for true analysis to provide actionable recommendations to decision-makers.

The Google Analytics Premium and BigQuery integration is planned to ease these pains. It will provide granular data access for you to:

  • Join and cross-tabulate multiple data sources
  • Understand complex queries
  • Create detailed custom analyses
  • Identify what’s really going to drive and improve the bottom line

With so many possibilities, you can get lost in exploring them all. But, before you meander off on your own, make sure you get back to the boss on that request from…

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