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May 2020 Recap – Emotional Intelligence with Michael Helbling

Thanks to everyone who joined us for our May meetup! While virtual events certainly have their downsides, one of the nice things is being able to bring in speakers (and attendees) from all over the place! This month we welcomed Michael Helbling from AJL Analytics in Atlanta to speak about emotional intelligence. Michael is also the co-host of The Digital Analytics Power Hour along with Moe Kiss and our own Tim Wilson.

This meetup was also a fundraiser for the Mid-Ohio Food Collective. With help from our sponsors we’re matching the first $1,000 donated! Thanks so much to those who have already donated, it means a lot to us and even more to the people you’re helping. We’ve still got matching funds available, you can donate here now. We’ll be running the campaign for the rest of the month so it’s not too late! Don’t make Tim have to start breaking into your morning news coverage with tote bags and guilt!

Analysts absolutely need this kind of intelligence in order to have our work truly listened to, and yet like our reports themselves emotional intelligence is frequently ignored or looked down upon. Perhaps it’s because analytical types don’t tend to be as naturally strong in this area, or perhaps it’s because in general this sort of intelligence is typically labelled in a pejorative way as “soft skills”. In any case, this is an important discussion to have!

Another one of the advantages of virtual is that we’ve got a recording of the session, so who cares what I thought of the session, watch it for yourself right here!

Maybe it’s Michael’s high degrees of self-awareness and empathy, or maybe it’s the fact that he is from Ohio originally — but Michael’s featured example of someone who displays strong emotional intelligence is Ohio’s own Dr. Amy Acton. Let’s face it, our jobs are a heckuva lot easier than hers, and if our stakeholders ignore the data we present people’s lives aren’t on the line — so we can learn a lot from her presentation of analysis! Michael also highly recommended this piece on Dr. Acton from the New York Times. Michael’s “Dr. Amy Acton Fan Club” lawn sign is in the mail.

As usual, we had some great questions as well, some of the things that came up in the QA were:

“Dare to Lead” by Brené Brown

The DAA’s COVD-19 jobs resource board

Michael’s own company AJL’s “JOIN” program to help match talent to available projects.

CBUSWAW sponsor InfoTrust’s “No Layoffs” pledge.

Need some support in your job hunt? Lisa Wilms from InfoTrust has opened her calendar to the community to talk resumes, interviewing, etc!

Please join us next time on June 10th when Mai Alowaish will discuss Google Analytics App+Web!

April 2020 Recap – Customer Journey Mapping with Monica and Anthony Weiler

In some ways, April was just like any other cbuswaw meetup: interesting content, 40-50 digital analytics folks, great questions and community. But pretty different in other ways, as this was our first ever virtual event!

Thanks to our speakers Monica and Anthony Weiler from Stratos Innovation Group as well as all of our participants for joining us in this experiment. We had a good time and hope other attendees did as well, please reach out to us if you have any feedback.

We had many regulars show up as well as people from all over: Florida, California, and even a strange far away place where everything is so different yet somehow familiar… Michigan. Oh, and someone from Australia was there too.

Most importantly, we’re all here to learn about interesting topics, and Monica and Anthony delivered on that. They explained both what customer journey mapping is as well as how the principles of service design fit into this kind of practice. Ok, and they showed us a lot of really cool looking maps.

Seeing the beautiful and detailed customer journey maps that Stratos creates is impressive, but how the heck do you get from some basic usage data and knowledge about your customers (that probably sits in a bunch of different silos) to something like that?

Monica and Anthony walked us through their approach, bringing in lots of different disciplines including: psychology, human factors design, and traditional behavior analytics. Their holistic approach blends hard data along with many harder to directly quantify factors… an art form not unlike many forms of data storytelling.

Do you need a PhD in Integrated Systems Engineering specializing in Human-centered Design, Customer Experience and Organizational Change Management (yes, that’s what Monica’s degree is in) to do this work? Well, we’re sure it doesn’t hurt, but no! Monica and Anthony have helpfully provided some additional resources to start getting your feet wet in the form of a free ebook on their site.

They have also provided their slides! Many of the maps are of course under NDA and left out of this version of the deck, but they have generously offered a walkthrough of these projects if anyone is interested.

Please join us next month, when we expect to be virtually meeting up again in similar fashion — topic and speaker TBA.

If you’d like to speak at an upcoming event (virtual or otherwise) or you have suggestions for a speaker or topic, please fill out our speaker call form here!



February 2020 Recap – Factor Analysis with Ahmad Ahmad

Our February meetup was a fun and informative session on factor analysis with Ahmad Ahmad downtown at Hopewell. Thanks to everyone that showed up even though the weather was kind of awful! Ahmad first gave us an introduction into the concept of factor analysis and when it might be helpful, then in good cbuswaw style proceeded to show us some real data and analysis, throughout fielding some solid questions from the crowd.

Some data is easily reducible to a smaller set of groups. For example, during Ahmad’s talk there was a significant amount of water droplets falling from the sky. These droplets could be very easily reduced into different types: rain, snow, freezing rain, and sleet. This is a case where we definitely don’t need factor analysis, because these are directly observed variables, i.e. we know what precipitation is what without using any statistical methods. Nobody would ever ask an analyst to quantify if it was snowing or not, but they would ask us to figure out from a bunch of different web stats why their users aren’t converting. How do we boil those dozens of dimensions down to groups of a few useful ones that share some kind of common underlying dimension that was not directly observed? And then what happens with even less obviously reducible data? We need statistical tools! Ahmad first walked us through a couple of thought exercises on this kind of dimension reduction to see how this might function from a high level.

Ahmad knew to bring data though, so he brought an analysis that he did based upon Boeing employee survey data where he attempts to turn 30-something different questions into a useful number of higher level groups, in this case 4. He did the analysis in SPSS, but he brought the results into Excel for presentation and has been kind enough to provide that Excel file as well as his slides:

Included in his slides are links to more info on factor analysis using the following tools:
SPSS (with Varimax Rotation)
Excel (with XLSTAT add-on)
Python (with Factor Analyzer package)

Those of us that also saw Dr. Michael Levin talk on cluster analysis last September may also want to revisit his talk to remind ourselves of the differences between these two very similar topics that go hand-in-hand but have different uses. Factor analysis is about discovering these underlying groups (like finding the survey questions that could be represented into an underlying factor of “career stage” — age, expected retirement date, and less obvious dimensions like perception of selling potential). Cluster analysis is about sorting the surveyed people into groups by using the existing dimensions, such that group members are more self-similar than people in another group.

Please join us next month when we’ll be back at Rev1 learning about service design with Monica and Anthony Weiler.

January 2020 Recap – Analytics Consulting with Elizabeth Eckels

We kicked off the new year at Otterbein University, we’ll be at Hopewell next month and then back our regular digs at Rev1. In a well-attended lecture hall Elizabeth Eckels, CEO & Founder of Bancroft Digital, presented an intro class into what the world of consulting is all about. Not about the tedious details of  how to setup an LLC or your corporate tax structure, but a lively conversation about analytics consulting practice itself, with real talk about the pluses and minuses.

The audience was fully engaged for this one, as basically everyone has either spent some time as a consultant or engaged with a consultant as a part of their job. There’s a ton to learn from both sides; learning how to most productively engage with your consultant is important too! Going out on your own in whatever the form can present a lot of risks and benefits, but Elizabeth walked us through both in a thoughtful way.

A few of her tips:

  • Don’t undervalue yourself.
  • Especially if you work at home, setting work boundaries can help keep you sane.
  • Frequent and thoughtful client communication is incredibly important. Put yourself in their shoes, but keep records to protect yourself too!
  • Nobody knows if you’re wearing pajama bottoms on a video conference, unless you have to stand up.

She has also kindly provided her slides! Check out slide #18 for a list of resources.

Welcome to the many new faces this time, hope to see you at future events as well! Also welcome back to one popular canine face, Elizabeth’s dog Cash.

Please join us next month downtown at Hopewell where Ahmad Ahmad will present on factor analysis.

November 2019 Recap – Analytics in Context

Our final regular meetup of the year was a fun strategy session with Jen Heider about managing and understanding analytics in context.

What exactly does “in context” mean? Jen explained it’s all about fitting our analytics projects into the larger context of the business as a whole. Look, we all agree that numbers and algorithms are great just for their own sake (though maybe not everyone else does), but letting them lead us is just a backwards way to go about an analytics project. Why we are doing an analysis, and what kind of decisions we might facilitate with that analysis is way more important that if we used naive bayes or random forest. Anyways, we probably should have just started with a basic regression.

Jen was very up-front that much of what she was presenting was the result of mistakes that she had made. We think she can join the club of, well, everyone in that, but she joins a much more elite club that owns those mistakes and learns from them. Can a model using the titanic disaster dataset help predict someone’s likelihood to throw themselves under the bus? We don’t think so, but maybe Jen can figure this out and get back to us.

We learned that an analytics practice shouldn’t be isolated away from the rest of the organization, where other departments submit their questions along with an offering to Apollo and wait for an answer that may or may not be understandable (or correct!). Integration of analytics into the context of the rest of the business allow for very important things including:

  • Choosing the right analytics project based upon scope and effect (but maybe take it easy with those effort vs. impact matrices).
  • Defining metrics across the organization so that people agree what they mean and how they are used.
  • Communication to know if the results are actually understood!

This allows partnerships to build over time in a really productive way. Less duplication of efforts, less reporting that is never even looked at, and ultimately (we hope) better decisions made.

Please join us next month for our annual holiday meetup at North High Brewing. No speakers, just fun & socialization!

October 2019 Recap – Product Analytics

Our October meetup featured Martijn Scheijbeler from RVShare talking about what “Product Analytics” means and how it’s different than Web Analytics. Since there’s no days of the week that start with “P” we aren’t going to be renaming “Web Analytics Wednesday” to “Product Analytics Pieday” (although we are open to the idea of a pie-oriented day), but that shouldn’t stop us from thinking more deeply about how to bring a more product-oriented perspective into our measurement practices.

Traditional web analytics works based upon sessions & pageviews. Having run Web Analytics Wednesdays for the last 11 years we feel  pretty confident in this assessment. This paradigm works well for aggregate stats about our sites, but when trying do user-based analysis of a whole product from a holistic perspective this method can really start to break down. Adding event tracking helps, but in traditional tools like Google Analytics events lack the deeper context to answer a lot of the questions about how these different events fit together into one user experience.

So what do we do? Once we’ve hit the goal & custom dimension limit in GA do we just need to start rolling our own complicated in-house analytics tools??

Luckily, Martijn just happened to bring along with him someone eminently qualified to show us what might be next! (Ok, they are married so “just happened” may be an overstatement). Our surprise guest was Krista Seiden, Founder & Principal Consultant from KS Digital, and well-known as a former Google Analytics Advocate at Google.

While at Google Krista most recently worked on the newest version and future direction of GA, App + Web properties. Krista’s blog is one of the best sources of information on this new version of GA, which takes an events-first approach and addresses many of the challenges Martijn had been talking about. Of course, A+W is still in Beta and even in full release is not going to solve all of the issues  discussed, but it is far more than just a way to consolidate mobile app and website stats. Both of our speakers also mentioned a number of other tools working to take our analytics up to this next level (Segment, Snowplow, Heap, Mixpanel, etc.) including many that do already take the events-first approach that A+W has adopted.


Martijn has also kindly provided us with his slides:

Please join us at Rev1 again next month when Elizabeth Eckels will talk about the world of contracting & consulting in Columbus.

Other Upcoming Events & Conferences:

Oct 23-24, DAA One Conference, Chicago
Oct 24, Market Research Exchange Fall Conference
Nov 6-7, Business Agility Conference Midwest


September 2019 Recap – Cluster Analysis with Dr. Michael Levin

Our September meetup featured a strong turnout for the always popular Dr. Michael Levin from Otterbein University speaking about cluster analysis. We’ve checked the records and this was Dr. Levin’s 4th time presenting! An impressive feat which puts him close to the free tote bag for members of the five-timers club. Considering the quality of the content and the great questions it engendered we better start designing that tote bag!

So what exactly is cluster analysis?? “K-means cluster analysis” — it sounds kind of esoteric and difficult, but Dr. Levin showed both how crucial this kind of analysis is and as the ease with which it can be implemented. We might have 10,000 different individual customers, but if we want to actually analyze and then take actions upon those customers we really need to split them up into a manageable number of groups.

Don’t forget that groups of everyone combined or everyone one at a time are still groups, just not very useful ones! Useful groups are the smallest number of groups we can have that split up our set clustered by the dimensions that we are interested in.

Dr. Levin walked us through an example of this kind of grouping with real world data and was brave enough to actually bring up Excel to do a live coding example. Typically that’s a good way to make sure everything explodes, but the only breakage was a few brief projector outages.

He was also kind enough to share both his slides and his Excel templates! The four cluster approach comes from Wayne Winston’s book “Marketing Analytics: Data-Driven Techniques with Microsoft Excel“.

Excel Templates:

Three Cluster Solution Template
Four Cluster Solution Template
Five Cluster Solution Template


This kind of analysis can of course also be done in your statistics package / programming language of choice. We will now provide a couple of links on how it can be done in R or Python to satisfy our toolset “fairness doctrine” requirements, as mandated by the cbuswaw bylaws. As a bonus these also shows just how simple excel can make it!



Please join us next month when Martijn Scheijbeler from RV Share will discuss product analytics!

August 2019 Recap – Testing Strategy with Melanie Bowles

Our August meetup was an excellent session on A/B testing strategy with Melanie Bowles from InfoTrust. To go along with the theme of A/B testing we also stepped up our door prizes and offered the crowd multiple variants of door prizes: including AirPods and wine from campaign tracking service Claravine.

A vitally important but frequently overlooked part of doing A/B testing is the structure behind the testing. You might ask, “how could we possibly need a team of people, launch checklists, test priority queues, and all this other stuff if testing is as simple as ‘just one line of JavaScript on your site'”? Well, it turns out marketing is not always 100% true (shocking news!!) — and while implementing the testing tracking snippet itself might be pretty easy, there are many other steps in the process that aren’t so trivial.

Melanie did talk a bit about how one might evaluate different testing tools, but she was smartly tool-agnostic in her presentation. While there are many great discussions to be had about the different tools and the math behind them, without a good strategy on items like how to generate testing ideas and prioritize running those tests you could have the best tool in the world and your testing practice could stall out and go nowhere.

A key part of the testing process is consistency and replicability. This requires a good strategy thought about ahead of time! Anyone who has run multiple A/B tests will know that actually making decisions from your test outcomes can be hard. Simply running a test without deciding before-hand what your success conditions might be is very tempting, but it’s rarely the case (especially with a mature product) that the results will speak for themselves in a vacuum — and then what do you do?

Melanie recommended using templates to make sure your process is consistent and sustainable, and was kind enough to provide her slides including some example templates!

Please join us again next month back at Rev1!

July 2019 Recap – Presenting Results to Inspire Action

For our July event we had a great turn-out to see Valerie Kroll from Search Discovery teach us about effective presentations. As part of a Search Discovery caravan down from Cleveland for the evening, Valerie presented a consistent strategy on getting the attention of stakeholders to drive action from test results.

The context of this strategy was A/B testing, but the larger points on presentation were totally relevant for any kind of presentation. No matter what kind of results you’re showing we were reminded:

  • To focus on the key results from the perspective of your audience.
  • Even a “failed” project can be an opportunity to learn important things.
  • It’s possible to boil down the results even more than you might think! A two slide presentation can be enough, and after all you are the real conveyor of content, not the slides.

Maybe it’s new to you, or maybe you think you’ve heard this stuff before — but focusing your presentation down to the simplest and clearest version of the results is one of the consistently most difficult (and important) part of our jobs.

A consistent methodology for both the creation of a testing hypothesis and the presentation of results before you start actually running anything can be crucial, but is also a lot of work. Valerie showed us a very useful template for presenting results, and has been kind enough to share her hard work by making the PowerPoint templates available at the Search Discovery site here.

Valerie has also made here slides available!

Please join us next month at Rev1 again for more on testing when Melanie Bowles from InfoTrust will present on building an experimentation strategy.

April 2019 Recap – The Future of Driving

For our April event we had husband and wife duo Kevin Boehm and Sharon Santino lay out the current state of autonomous driving as well as where we are headed down the road (ok, we promise no more car puns).

If you read some of the tech press or Elon Musk’s twitter feed, then you might think that we’re only months away from just laying back and letting our smart cars do all the work, but that’s not quite the case.

Sharon and Kevin brought our flying smart car dreams back down to earth a bit by explaining many of the challenges involved, but they also showed some of how revolutionary this technology will be when it does eventually fully arrive.

As usual, most of the engineering problems are related to people and their unpredictable behavior. While the cars may be getting smarter and smarter, people will remain people.

They also laid out how it’s not an all-or-nothing process, but much more of a continuum — and while fleets of cars at scale with no steering wheels at all may still be pretty far away, there’s also lots of this technology already out there.

Please join us next month when we’ll have Jim Gianoglio from Bounteous talk about the path from Data Analyst to Data Scientist!


As a bonus, check out the cool time-lapse that Sharon and Kevin made!