Data Driven Business

10 years ago
What it takes to be data driven

Andreas and Peter went to Boston eMetrics 2014 to catch up with the newest Web Analytics trends and to meet and hear from some of the leading industry masterminds.


Read about what it takes to be data driven in their conference report and why you should always think about the business goals before you request data. Also you’ll get some data visualization tips and learn how the legendary Boston Red Sox use heat maps to find the optimal position for the beer bar.    

 What it takes to be data driven

Tim Wilson from Web Analytics Demystified delivered a great keynote speech on how to optimise a company’s process for being data driven: He pointed out that there are only two ways that analytics can actually be used to drive a business forward.

Performance Measurement – where you look backwards and ask the question: are we achieving our business goals? And Hypothesis Validation where you are looking to do things different and better in the future. That is where learning comes from and where business value lies. It is also why Wilson recommends to invest most of your time on hypothesis validation (other tasks like quick data pulls are of course necessary, but shouldn´t block your analytics team from doing the real valuable work).


This chart shows how a systematic and repeatable process of data treatment can look like.  

This process should be owned, maintained and used by the analytics team. But the whole company should be part of the process, not only by campaign execution but especially also when it comes to idea generating.

 Thanks for your request – how does it help solve our business problems?

Almost every speaker pointed out that web analytics has to have the goal to focus on creating business value through data. What looks very intuitive at first turns out to be a common problem in many companies: getting stuck in the details and losing focus.

A successful data driven company focuses on measuring fewer things, but the right ones.

So, next time you request data from your analytics team, answer this question: how will this data help solve a business problem and create value?

 Unload the bullets! Some visualization tips

 Almost every third session at eMetrics was about data visualization. A highlight was Ryan Sleepers session about Data Driven Storytelling. Find some more visualization tips here:   


  • Start creating a dashboard by asking on what its purpose is, who will be using it and how they will be using it.

  • Good dashboards have strong visual elements and focus on KPIs.

  • They fit on one screen and provide contexts for the KPIs by making comparisons.  

  • Instead of a technical headline, write the question the dashboard is answering – e.g. “How many people visit our blog?”

  • More tips: A Guide to Creating Dashboards People Love to Use



  • Don’t use bullet points (they kill presentations by showing too many ideas at your audience at once, so they tune you out)

  • One slide per idea

  • Don’t use pie charts: Brains can’t comprehend area inside segments of a circle.

  • Don´t use the traffic lights colours green, yellow and red since they can´t be differentiated by colour blind people.

  • Use the Extreme Presentation Chart Selector to find the right visualization for your metrics.


Recommended books:

slide:ology by Nancy Duarte
The WSJ Guide to Information Graphics by Donna M. Wong
Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds 

The Boston Red Sox´data driven approach for beer bar placements

Hey – when we already are in Boston, why not invite Tim Zue from the Red Sox for a conference speech? – this is what conference chair Jim Sterne must have thought when he planned the conference. And it was a great move.


In a very refreshing an inspirational speech demonstrated Tim Zue how he and his team uses data analysis around the famous Fenway Park to improve the visitor experience and generate business value.

He got very excited when he told about the transformation when they observed more and more people looking at their mobile phones instead of the game. What was first experienced as a thread was turned into to a possibility.

The fans have free internet access in the whole park and can e.g. buy beer or hot dogs online in advance to save time. The Red Sox know how the average visitor navigates through the stadium and can lead the fans to the next restrooms or to the bar with the shortest line. They even know where the optimal placement for the bar is.

There are lots of possibilities in this data approach and this shows how the online data driven approach easily can be adjusted to the offline world and vice versa.

By: Peter Nybro Pfeifer, Collective´s Conversion Specialist,
Originally published at

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