A story today, a personal one, and a public thank you.
My friend John Marshall called me in the morning to tell me that he was leaving his job. He is (now was) the CEO of ClickTracks. A couple of questions came to my mind but mostly it brought back a rush of memories.
I had been a "web analytics manager" (in reality it was just me and Michelle and Excel) for a few months when my manager, Blaire Hansen, suggested that I should perhaps attend a conference in San Francisco that had a session on Web Analytics by a "famous guy". I had been in my job for just a few months when attended one day of the Nielsen Norman Group Usability Week 2003 (May 12 -16).
The "famous guy" turned out to be Jim Sterne, who at the end of his talk invited me attend this second edition of his Emetrics summit. That turned out to be a life changing experience. I have spoken at six Emetrics summits in the US and London, and if Jim will have me then I'll be honored to speak at many more. I owe Jim tons for his invitation that fateful day in May 2003 and since then for his generous support.
On that same day in May 2003 I was walking around the tiny exhibits area trying my best not to engage in eye contact and just pick up all the vendor literature (you see I am not too fond of over eager booth sales). This kind looking person standing in front of the table (not behind it) asked if he could answer a few questions. He did not try to sell me anything, he just answered my questions about log file parsing (yes that's what we were using at that time!).
I still remember the ClickTracks brochure said something like "you can install and be up and processing your data in less time it would take you to make a cup of coffee". You can see how that would be appealing to a guy like me in a corner of the company trying to make things happen fast.
I was so impressed with the non-sales sales that I invited him later to come visit me at Intuit, we bought ClickTracks to process the logs. It would be another year or so until we would buy the ClickTracks JDC version to move all our sites to a tag based solution that ran in-house.
Over the years I have had the opportunity to work closely with John and, along with Dr. Stephen Turner, he has had a big impact on my thinking and approach to Web Analytics. My love for segmentation ("any
combination of date+time / URLs / URL parameters / referrer / host / cookies"), instant reprocessing, being able to explore data, believe that analysis is our God given right and not reporting, the power of segmented site overlay and more.
I had skipped the web analytics books (trust me the irony of that statement does not escape me), sadly not being the textbook type (though I am a voracious reader). My education was working on problems in real life, trying different solutions, taking risks, not getting boxed in, and consuming every word on the web analytics yahoo forum and the emetrics summits.
But a ton of my education was learning from John's perspective on analytics and collaborating with him to make tiny contributions to making ClickTracks better to solve business problems. I was always impressed at how often, and fast, things would get built. I fondly remember our visits to Santa Cruz when Dr. Turner was over, arguing about features or approaches or pushing the envelope.
It was a lot of fun.
One fateful day in May 2003 that had a huge impact on my professional life and its direction.
I think ClickTracks will miss John (though it is in capable hands at J. L. Halsey Group), I am going to miss John at ClickTracks, I am going to miss having him on stage at the Vendor Variety Hour (where he could be counted on for unvarnished truth), I am going to miss the conversations about clicktracks features.
But at the same time John has come exciting plans for his next steps. First up is a much deserved two weeks away from email and web analytics.
We say good bye to jmarshall at clicktracks dot com and say hello to johnmhome at yahoo dot com, looking forward to hopefully some exciting new collaborations.
Thanks for everything my friend. Thus far!
[If you care for some witty banter between John, myself and three hundred other folks, then check out the archived version of this webinar: Unleash The Power of Web Analytics.]