Wednesday, January 16, 2013

An Industry that Overlaps with Every Other Industry is Hungry for Talent


After spending two and a half years, about half of my career thus far, in the heart of the growing analytics industry, I got out. Regardless of my reasons, one thing is for sure, if I want back in at any point in the next decade, there is no shortage of opportunity. All major corporations, in the industry of your choice, have a digital presence. What good is a that presence if they are not #measuring and optimizing it? It is a never-ending piece of work, with tools that are becoming evermore sophisticated, and to do it right it often requires a dedicated team of people in-house. Ten years ago these roles didn't exist.

Just by reading the headline of the most recent blog post by @corryprohens of IQWorkforce, "5 Reasons Why Analytics Jobs Stay Open For 6+ Months", you can see that companies are looking for talent, and having a hard time filling it. My brother works at Ancestry.com, and he says they have definitely seen this same phenomenon: it takes them months and months to fill open spots on their web analytics team. And this is despite being right down the street from the original Omniture headquarters.

The tools you specialize in aren't as crucial as being able to understand the business objectives, and then being able to apply available tools to help your colleagues measure and optimize their digital presence. It isn't that the field isn't open to everybody, but if you grew up downloading music via dialup on Napster, you are likely wired in a way that you can quickly learn how all the pieces fit together. The tools are sophisticated enough, that even without being a programmer or having a coding background, you can learn the ins and outs of all parts of them with some dedication and testing.

So my point is, if you like analytics it is a great industry to be in. The reason is that you can find something else you are passionate about, be it anything from video games, to travel, to sports, to race cars, to fashion, to technology and you can find a company that operates in the realm of that passion AND that needs competent web analysts. 

If you don't believe me, go to the website of a major company that you respect and would love to work for, and look at the source code on the page. Do a search in that code for "omniture" or "s.eVar" or "UA-" or  some other standard piece of code used by major analytics tools. In the case that the code has been customized, you can still detect the image requests going that are being sent out and tracking your visit to that site using a packet-sniffer or javascript debugger of some sort (keep reading this blog if you want to find examples of what those are and what they do). Even if you can't see the technology in work at this point, trust me, it is there.

A great example of what I am preaching is the professor of the course for which I am writing this post: J. Michael Boyle. After only one class with him, I already know that he is passionate about hockey, and that he uses his analytics-know-how to consult for major Hockey organizations (if I heard correctly he consults for the largest hockey organization) in regards to analytics strategy. 

So if you have the skills, or are interested in attaining the skills, pick a company and go get a job there in this new field.