Customer Journey Mapping: The data-driven approach to understanding your users

Businesses across the globe are on a mission to know their customers inside out – something commonly referred to as customer-centricity. It’s an attempt to better understand the needs and wants of customers in order to provide them with a better overall experience.

But while this sounds promising in theory, it’s much harder to achieve in practice. To really know your customer you must not only understand what they want, but you also need to hone in on how they want it, when they want it and how often as well.

In essence, your business should use customer journey mapping. It allows you to visualise customer feelings and behaviours through the different stages of their journey – from the first interaction, right up until the point of purchase and beyond.

The Data-Driven Approach 

To ensure your customer journey mapping is successful, you must conduct some extensive research on your customers. You can’t afford to make decisions based on feelings and emotions alone. There are two types of research that you should use for customer journey mapping – quantitative and qualitative research.

Quantitative data is best for analysing the behaviour of your customers as it identifies their habits over time. It’s also extremely useful for confirming any hypotheses you may have developed. That being so, relying solely upon quantitative data can present one major issue – it doesn’t provide you with the specific reason behind those behaviours.

That’s where qualitative data comes to the rescue. Through data collection methods like surveys, interviews and focus groups, you can figure out the reasoning behind some of your quantitative data trends. The obvious downside to qualitative data is its lack of evidence and its tendency to be subjective. Therefore, a combination of both quantitative and qualitative research is most effective.

Creating A Customer Persona

A customer persona is designed to help businesses understand the key traits of specific groups of people. For example, those defined by their age range or geographic location. A customer persona can help improve your customer journey map by providing more insight into the behavioural trends of your “ideal” customer. 

The one downside to using customer personas is that they can be over-generalised at times. Just because a group of people shares a similar age, for example, it does not mean they all share the same beliefs and interests. Nevertheless, creating a customer persona is still beneficial to customer journey mapping – especially if used in combination with the correct customer journey analytics tools.

All Roads Lead To Customer-centricity 

To achieve customer-centricity, businesses must consider using a data-driven approach to customer journey mapping. First, it requires that you achieve a balance between both quantitative and qualitative research. Quantitative research will provide you with definitive trends while qualitative data gives you the reasoning behind those trends. 

To further increase the effectiveness of your customer journey map, consider creating customer personas. They will give you further insight into the behavioural trends within specific groups. 

This article was written by TAP London. Experts in the Adobe Experience Cloud, TAP London help brands organise data to provide meaningful insight and memorable customer experiences. Find out more at wearetaplondon.com.

Stop processing the same mistakes! Four steps to business & IT alignment

Digitization. Agility. Tech-driven. Just three strategy buzzwords that promise IT transformation and business alignment, but often fade out into merely superficial change. In fact, aligning business and IT still vexes many organizations because company leaders often forget that transformation is not a move from A to B, or even from A to Z––it’s a move from a fixed starting point, to a state of continual change.


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Mit den richtigen Prozessen zum Erfolg: vier Schritte zum Business-IT Alignment

 


Within this state of perpetual flux, adaptive technology is necessary, not only to keep up with industry developments but also with the expansion of technology-enabled customer experiences. After all, alignment assumes that business and technology are separate entities, when in fact they are inextricably linked!

Metrics that matter: From information technology to business technology

Information technology is continuing to challenge the way companies organize their business processes, communicate with customers and potential customers, and deliver services. Although there is no single dominant reorganization strategy, common company structures lean towards decentralizing IT, shifting it closer to end-users and melding the knowledge-base with business strategy. Business-IT alignment is more than ever vital for market impact and growth.

This tactic means as business goals pivot, IT can more readily respond with permanent solutions to support and maintain enterprise momentum. In turn, technological advances and improvements are hardwired into current and future strategies and initiatives. As working ecosystems replace strict organizational structures, the traditional question “Which department do you work in?” has been replaced by, “How do you work?”

But how does IT prove its value and win the trust of the C-suite? Well, according to Gartner, almost 20% of companies have already invested in tools capable of monitoring business-relevant metrics, with this number predicted to reach 60% by 2021. The problem is many infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders don’t know where to begin when initiating an IT monitoring strategy.

Reach beyond the everyday: Four challenges to alignment

With this, CIOs are under mounting pressure to address digital needs that grow and transform, as well as to renovate the operational environment with new functions. They also must still demonstrate how IT is meeting a given business strategy. So looking forward, no matter how big or small your business is, technology can deliver tangible and intangible benefits (like speed and performance) to hit revenue and operational targets efficiently, and meet your customers’ expectations of innovation.

Put simply, having a good technological infrastructure enriches the culture, efficiency, and relationships of your business.

Business and IT alignment: The rate of change

This continuous strategic loop means enterprises function better, make more profit, and see better ROI because they achieve their goals with less effort. And while there may be no standard way to align successfully, an organization where IT and business strategy are in lock-step can further improve agility and operational efficiencies. This battle of the ‘effs’, efficiency vs. effectiveness, has never been so critical to business survival.

In fact, successful companies are those that dive deeper; such is the importance of this synergy. Amazon and Apple are prime examples—technology and technological innovation is embedded and aligned within their operational structure. In several cases, they created the integral technology and business strategies themselves!

Convergence and Integration

These types of aligned companies have also increased the efficiency of technology investments and significantly reduced the financial and operational risks associated with business and technical change.

However, if this rate of change and business agility is as fast as we continually say, we need to be talking about convergence and integration, not just alignment. In other words, let’s do the research and learn, but empower next-level thinking so we can focus on the co-creation of “true value” and respond quickly to customers and users.

Granular strategies

Without this granular strategy, companies may spend too much on technology without ever solving the business challenges they face, simply due to differing departmental objectives, cultures, and incentives. Simply put, business-IT alignment integrates technology with the strategy, mission, and goals of an organization. For example:

  • Faster time-to-market
  • Increased profitability
  • Better customer experience
  • Improved collaboration
  • Greater industry and IT agility
  • Strategic technological transformation

Hot topic

View webinar recording Empowering Collaboration Between Business and IT, with Fabio Gammerino, Signavio Pre-Sales Consultant.

The power of process: Four steps to better business-IT alignment

While it may seem intuitive, many organizations struggle to achieve the elusive goal of business-IT alignment. This is not only because alignment is a cumbersome and lengthy process, but because the overall process is made up of many smaller sub-processes. Each of these sub-processes lacks a definitive start and endpoint. Instead, each one comprises some “learn and do” cycles that incrementally advance the overall goal.

These cycles aren’t simple fixes, and this explains why issues still exist in the modern digital world. But by establishing a common language, building internal business relationships, ensuring transparency, and developing precise corporate plans of action, the bridge between the two stabilizes.

Four steps to best position your business-IT alignment strategy:

  1. Plan: Translate business objectives into measurable IT services, so resources are effectively allocated to maximize turnover and ROI – This step requires ongoing communication between business and IT leaders.
  2. Model: IT designs infrastructure to increase business value and optimize operations – IT must understand business needs and ensure that they are implementing systems critical to business services.
  3. Manage: Service is delivered based on company objectives and expectations – IT must act as a single point-of-service request, and prioritize those requests based on pre-defined priorities.
  4. Measure: Improvement of cross-organization visibility and service level commitments – While metrics are essential, it is crucial that IT ensures a business context to what they are measuring, and keeps a clear relationship between the measured parameter and business goals.

Signavio Says

Temporarily rotating IT employees within business operations is a top strategy in reaching business-IT alignment because it circulates company knowledge. This cross-pollination encourages better relationships between the IT department and other silos and broadens skill-sets, especially for entry-level employees. Better knowledge depth gives the organization more flexibility with well-rounded employees who can fill various roles as demand arises.

Get in touch

Discover how Signavio can lead your business to IT transformation and operational excellence with the  Signavio Business Transformation Suite. Try it for yourself by registering now for a free 30-day trial.

How Data Analytics In The Cloud Transforms Your Business

Businesses have started to turn to cloud-based technology to solve their growing data problems. But before we dive deep into the reason behind it, let’s look at some reasons why data analytics is such a powerful tool. It all falls back to businesses like Netflix, Amazon, Google, and Facebook. All of these businesses are using data analytics to understand their customers and are making an absolute fortune. They also have so much data coming in that they needed to mitigate it somehow, so they turned to the cloud.

Let’s use Netflix as an example here. They have over 115 million subscribers and have become the absolute king of the online streaming industry. Their rise to the top was no fluke. They developed state-of-the-art methods of data analytics and then gathered the information needed to provide the right entertainment to the right people.

Amazon uses data to learn about its customers. They analyze all behavior on their website and then target customers based on that data.

Cloud-based technologies are designed to reduce costs associated with older data analytical methods. Businesses like Netflix, Amazon, Google, and Facebook have all started underpinning the cloud because they know it’s the future. They based their entire business models around it.

But smaller businesses still have a long way to go. Only 40% of businesses are using data as the core piece of their business strategy.

Now let’s look at some ways that data analytics has transformed business.

It Gave Birth to Strategic Analytics

Strategic analytics is the backbone of your entire data plan. It is a detailed analysis of the entire system that is used to determine how you are funneling customers into your system. It will reveal weak points and show you the strengths so that you can develop data-driven strategies moving forward. It also helps you understand the behavior of your market.

Strategic analytics follows a three-step process:

  1. Identify your business model’s strengths and weaknesses in comparison with your competition.
  2. Diagnose all of your business processes to determine areas that might need to be improved.
  3. Analyze individuals within the company to make sure you are properly using them. You would be surprised at the number of businesses wasting their employees’ talents on inefficient tasks.

At the end of it all, your business should be able to determine areas of your marketing where you can pull out more value, as well as data that you need to start gathering.

Fuel your Decisions with Platform Analytics

The goal here is to combine data analytics with your decision-making processes so that your business operates more efficiently at its very core. If money is the lifeblood of your business, then decisions are the heart that keeps that money flowing. So think of analytics as a healthy diet. It keeps every area of your business healthy and operating at peak efficiency. Platform analytics asks some important questions like:

  • How can data analytics be efficiently added to our everyday business processes?
  • Are there any areas that we can automate that will improve efficiency?
  • What will back end systems benefit from learning more about our customers?

In most cases, businesses will find that the cloud will enhance their overall data plan, no matter which point they have reached in their growth. Think of it like checking your blood pressure. If there are problems, then you know that you’ll need a diagnosis.

Helps Businesses Transform their Model

Businesses will need to use data in parallel with their model to stay caught up with the changing times as we move forward. In layman’s terms, businesses need to update their core business processes in a way so that it uses data to create opportunities. This opens up a whole new world for their customers, products, and services.

Companies that can forecast using data will see improvements across the board – from their recruitment to their marketing. But there is a specific data-centric approach that must be taken.

  • Must possess an overall vision that includes data and capitalizes on the opportunities presented.
  • Develop a culture that is centered on data and is not afraid to experiment with it.
  • Leverage new technologies to manage their data. Right now, the latest technology is cloud-based so businesses must learn to leverage it.
  • Use data to build trust with consumers.
  • Find innovative ways to gain insight into upcoming trends and tap into there as quickly as possible.

Management of Enterprise Information

Enterprise information management (known as EIM) is an important part of data-driven processes. Most data in businesses is stored in an unmanaged location like a server or some other in-house database. Cloud-based technologies have created a more secure way to store data, but you will still need a data management system in place.

By developing agile data management systems, you will be able to gather and distribute data more efficiently. EIM systems allow businesses to:

  • Streamline all of their processes in a way that simplifies everyone’s job.
  • Improve collaboration among different teams.
  • Improve the productivity of employees.

Creates a Data-Centric Business

This is the most important factor in business today, and it’s the reason why all businesses must start using the latest data analytics strategies. The more useful data a business can generate, the more of an advantage they are going to have. Again, look at leaders like Netflix and Amazon to see this in action. They are generating essential information from everyone who browses their systems. Their entire business models are centered on data, and it’s the number one reason why they are at the top of their respective industries.

Insight, optimization, and innovation are the three main categories of data analytics.

Final Thoughts

The Research Optimus Team understands that having the right data migration system is going to benefit all businesses, both large and small. It’s why their focus has turned to cloud-based technologies. Could-enabled businesses gain a competitive advantage over those who are still relying on older data technologies.

Business moves at supersonic speeds now so if you are not staying current with the latest technology, then you are going to fall behind.

 

AI For Advertisers: How Data Analytics Can Change The Maths Of Advertising?

All Images Credit: Freepik

The task of understanding a customer’s journey and designing your marketing strategy accordingly can be difficult in this data-driven world. Today, the customer expresses their needs in myriad forms of requests.

Consumers express their needs and want attitudes, and values in various forms through search, comments, blogs, Tweets, “likes,” videos, and conversations and access such data across many channels like web, mobile, and face to face. Volume, variety, velocity and veracity of the data accumulated through these customer interactions are huge.

BigData and data analytics can be leveraged to understand several phases of the customer journey. There are risks involved in using Artificial Intelligence for the marketing data analysis of data breach and even manipulation. But, AI do have brighter prospects when it comes to marketing and advertiser applications.

As the CEO of a technology firm Chop Dawg and marketer, Joshua Davidson puts it, “AI-powered apps are going to be the future for us, and there are several industries that are ripe for this.” The mobile-first strategy of many enterprises has powered the use of AI for digital marketing and developing technologies and innovations to power industries with intelligent systems.

How AI and Machine learning are affecting customer journeys?

Any consumer journey begins with the recognition of a problem and then stages like initial consideration, active evaluation, purchase, and postpurchase come through up till the consumer journey is over. The need for identifying the purchasing and need patterns of the consumers and finding the buyer personas to strategize the marketing for them.

Need and Want Recognition:

Identifying a need is quite difficult as it is the most initial level of a consumer’s journey and it is more on the category level than at a brand level. Marketers and advertisers are relying on techniques like market research, web analytics, and data mining to build consumer profiles and buyer’s persona for understanding the needs and influencing the purchase of products. AI can help identify these wants and needs in real-time as the consumers usually express their needs and wants online and help build profiles more quickly.

AI technologies offered by several firms help in consumer profiling. Firms like Microsoft offers Azure that crunches billions of data points in seconds to determine the needs of consumers. It then personalizes web content on specific platforms in real-time to align with those status-updates. Consumer digital footprints are evolving through social media status updates, purchasing behavior, online comments and posts. Ai tends to update these profiles continuously through machine learning techniques.

Initial Consideration:

A key objective of advertising is to insert a brand into the consideration set of the consumers when they are looking for deliberate offerings. Advertising includes increasing the visibility of brands and emphasize on the key reasons for consideration. Advertisers currently use search optimization, paid search advertisements, organic search, or advertisement retargeting for finding the consideration and increase the probability of consumer consideration.

AI can leverage machine learning and data analytics to help with search, identify and rank functions of consumer consideration that can match the real-time considerations at any specific time. Take an example of Google Adwords, it analyzes the consumer data and helps advertisers make clearer distinctions between qualified and unqualified leads for better targeting.

Google uses AI to analyze the search-query data by considering, not only the keywords but also context words and phrases, consumer activity data and other BigData. Then, Google identifies valuable subsets of consumers and more accurate targeting.

Active Evaluation: 

When consumers narrow it down to a few choices of brands, advertisers need to insert trust and value among the consumers for brands. A common technique is to identify the higher purchase consumers and persuade them through persuasive content and advertisement. AI can support these tasks using some techniques:

Predictive Lead Scoring: Predictive lead scoring by leveraging machine learning techniques of predictive analytics to allow marketers to make accurate predictions related to the intent of purchase for consumers. A machine learning algorithm runs through a database of existing consumer data, then recognize trends and patterns and after processing the external data on consumer activities and interests, creates robust consumer profiles for advertisers.

Natural Language Generation: By leveraging the image, speech recognition and natural language generation, machine learning enables marketers to curate content while learning from the consumer behavior in real-time scenarios and adjusts the content according to the profiles on the fly.

Emotion AI: Marketers use emotion AI to understand consumer sentiment and feel about the brand in general. By tapping into the reviews, blogs or videos they understand the mood of customers. Marketers also use emotion AI to pretest advertisements before its release. The famous example of Kelloggs, which used emotion AI to help devise an advertising campaign for their cereal, eliminating the advertisement executions whenever the consumer engagement dropped.

Purchase: 

As the consumers decide which brands to choose and what it’s worth, advertising aims to move them out of the decision process and push for the purchase by reinforcing the value of the brand compared with its competition.

Advertisers can insert such value by emphasizing convenience and information about where to buy the product, how to buy the product and reassuring the value through warranties and guarantees. Many marketers also emphasize on rapid return policies and purchase incentives.

AI can completely change the purchase process through dynamic pricing, which encompasses real-time price adjustments on the basis of information such as demand and other consumer-behavior variables, seasonality, and competitor activities.

Post-Purchase: 

Aftersales services can be improved through intelligent systems using AI technologies and machine learning techniques. Marketers and advertisers can hire dedicated developers to design intelligent virtual agents or chatbots that can reinforce the value and performance of a brand among consumers.

Marketers can leverage an intelligent technique known as Propensity modeling to identify the most valuable customers on the basis of lifetime value, likelihood of reengagement, propensity to churn, and other key performance measures of interest. Then advertisers can personalize their communication with these customers on the basis of these data.

Conclusion:

AI has shifted the focus of advertisers and marketers towards the customer-first strategies and enhanced the heuristics of customer engagement. Machine learning and IoT(Internet of Things) has already changed the way customer interact with the brands and this transition has come at a time when advertisers and marketers are looking for new ways to tap into the customer mindset and buyer’s persona.

All Images Credit: Freepik

Process Paradise by the Dashboard Light

The right questions drive business success. Questions like, “How can I make sure my product is the best of its kind?” “How can I get the edge over my competitors?” and “How can I keep growing my organization?” Modern businesses take their questions further, focusing on the details of how they actually function. At this level, the questions become, “How can I make my business as efficient as possible?” “How can I improve the way my company does business?” and even, “Why aren’t my company’s processes working as they should?”


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Mit Dashboards zur Prozessoptimierung


To discover the answers to these questions (and many others!), more and more businesses are turning to process mining. Process mining helps organizations unlock hidden value by automatically collecting information on process models from across the different IT systems operating within a business. This allows for continuous monitoring of an organization’s end-to-end process landscape, meaning managers and staff gain specific operational insights into potential risks—as well as ongoing improvement opportunities.

However, process mining is not a silver bullet that turns data into insights at the push of a button. Process mining software is simply a tool that produces information, which then must be analyzed and acted upon by real people. For this to happen, the information produced must be available to decision-makers in an understandable format.

For most process mining tools, the emphasis remains on the sophistication of analysis capabilities, with the resulting data needing to be interpreted by a select group of experts or specialists within an organization. This necessarily creates a delay between the data being produced, the analysis completed, and actions taken in response.

Process mining software that supports a more collaborative approach by reducing the need for specific expertise can help bridge this gap. Only if hypotheses, analysis, and discoveries are shared, discussed, and agreed upon with a wide range of people can really meaningful insights be generated.

Of course, process mining software is currently capable of generating standardized reports and readouts, but in a business environment where the pace of change is constantly increasing, this may not be sufficient for very much longer. For truly effective process mining, the secret to success will be anticipating challenges and opportunities, then dealing with them as they arise in real time.

Dashboards of the future

To think about how process mining could improve, let’s consider an analog example. Technology evolves to make things easier—think of the difference between keeping track of expenditure using a written ledger vs. an electronic spreadsheet. Now imagine the spreadsheet could tell you exactly when you needed to read it, and where to start, as well as alerting you to errors and omissions before you were even aware you’d made them.

Advances in process mining make this sort of enhanced assistance possible for businesses seeking to improve the way they work. With the right process mining software, companies can build tailored operational cockpits that unite real-time operational data with process management. This allows for the usual continuous monitoring of individual processes and outcomes, but it also offers even clearer insights into an organization’s overall process health.

Combining process mining with an organization’s existing process models in the right way turns these models from static representations of the way a particular process operates, into dynamic dashboards that inform, guide and warn managers and staff about problems in real time. And remember, dynamic doesn’t have to mean distracting—the right process mining software cuts into your processes to reveal an all-new analytical layer of process transparency, making things easier to understand, not harder.

As a result, business transformation initiatives and other improvement plans and can be adapted and restructured on the go, while decision-makers can create automated messages to immediately be advised of problems and guided to where the issues are occurring, allowing corrective action to be completed faster than ever. This rapid evaluation and response across any process inefficiencies will help organizations save time and money by improving wasted cycle times, locating bottlenecks, and uncovering non-compliance across their entire process landscape.

Dynamic dashboards with Signavio

To see for yourself how the most modern and advanced process mining software can help you reveal actionable insights into the way your business works, give Signavio Process Intelligence a try. With Signavio’s Live Insights, all your process information can be visualized in one place, represented through a traffic light system. Simply decide which processes and which activities within them you want to monitor or understand, place the indicators, choose the thresholds, and let Signavio Process Intelligence connect your process models to the data.

Banish multiple tabs and confusing layouts, amaze your colleagues and managers with fact-based insights to support your business transformation, and reduce the time it takes to deliver value from your process management initiatives. To find out more about Signavio Process Intelligence, or sign up for a free 30-day trial, visit www.signavio.com/try.

Process mining is a powerful analysis tool, giving you the visibility, quantifiable numbers, and information you need to improve your business processes. Would you like to read more? With this guide to managing successful process mining initiatives, you will learn that how to get started, how to get the right people on board, and the right project approach.

The importance of being Data Scientist

Header-Image by Clint Adair on Unsplash.

The incredible results of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning in particular, could give the impression that Data Scientist are like magician. Just think of it. Recognising faces of people, translating from one language to another, diagnosing diseases from images, computing which product should be shown for us next to buy and so on from numbers only. Numbers which existed for centuries. What a perfect illusion. But it is only an illusion, as Data Scientist existed as well for centuries. However, there is a difference between the one from today compared to the one from the past: evolution.

The main activity of Data Scientist is to work with information also called data. Records of data are as old as mankind, but only within the 16 century did it include also numeric forms — as numbers started to gain more and more ground developing their own symbols. Numerical data, from a given phenomenon — being an experiment or the counts of sheep sold by week over the year –, was from early on saved in tabular form. Such a way to record data is interlinked with the supposition that information can be extracted from it, that knowledge — in form of functions — is hidden and awaits to be discovered. Collecting data and determining the function best fitting them let scientist to new insight into the law of nature right away: Galileo’s velocity law, Kepler’s planetary law, Newton theory of gravity etc.

Such incredible results where not possible without the data. In the past, one was able to collect data only as a scientist, an academic. In many instances, one needed to perform the experiment by himself. Gathering data was tiresome and very time consuming. No sensor which automatically measures the temperature or humidity, no computer on which all the data are written with the corresponding time stamp and are immediately available to be analysed. No, everything was performed manually: from the collection of the data to the tiresome computation.

More then that. Just think of Michael Faraday and Hermann Hertz and there experiments. Such endeavour where what we will call today an one-man-show. Both of them developed parts of the needed physics and tools, detailed the needed experiment settings, conducting the experiment and collect the data and, finally, computing the results. The same is true for many other experiments of their time. In biology Charles Darwin makes its case regarding evolution from the data collected in his expeditions on board of the Beagle over a period of 5 years, or Gregor Mendel which carry out a study of pea regarding the inherence of traits. In physics Blaise Pascal used the barometer to determine the atmospheric pressure or in chemistry Antoine Lavoisier discovers from many reaction in closed container that the total mass does not change over time. In that age, one person was enough to perform everything and was the reason why the last part, of a data scientist, could not be thought of without the rest. It was inseparable from the rest of the phenomenon.

With the advance of technology, theory and experimental tools was a specialisation gradually inescapable. As the experiments grow more and more complex, the background and condition in which the experiments were performed grow more and more complex. Newton managed to make first observation on light with a simple prism, but observing the line and bands from the light of the sun more than a century and half later by Joseph von Fraunhofer was a different matter. The small improvements over the centuries culminated in experiments like CERN or the Human Genome Project which would be impossible to be carried out by one person alone. Not only was it necessary to assign a different person with special skills for a separate task or subtask, but entire teams. CERN employs today around 17 500 people. Only in such a line of specialisation can one concentrate only on one task alone. Thus, some will have just the knowledge about the theory, some just of the tools of the experiment, other just how to collect the data and, again, some other just how to analyse best the recorded data.

If there is a specialisation regarding every part of the experiment, what makes Data Scientist so special? It is impossible to validate a theory, deciding which market strategy is best without the work of the Data Scientist. It is the reason why one starts today recording data in the first place. Not only the size of the experiment has grown in the past centuries, but also the size of the data. Gauss manage to determine the orbit of Ceres with less than 20 measurements, whereas the new picture about the black hole took 5 petabytes of recorded data. To put this in perspective, 1.5 petabytes corresponds to 33 billion photos or 66.5 years of HD-TV videos. If one includes also the time to eat and sleep, than 5 petabytes would be enough for a life time.

For Faraday and Hertz, and all the other scientist of their time, the goal was to find some relationship in the scarce data they painstakingly recorded. Due to time limitations, no special skills could be developed regarding only the part of analysing data. Not only are Data Scientist better equipped as the scientist of the past in analysing data, but they managed to develop new methods like Deep Learning, which have no mathematical foundation yet in spate of their success. Data Scientist developed over the centuries to the seldom branch of science which bring together what the scientific specialisation was forced to split.

What was impossible to conceive in the 19 century, became more and more a reality at the end of the 20 century and developed to a stand alone discipline at the beginning of the 21 century. Such a development is not only natural, but also the ground for the development of A.I. in general. The mathematical tools needed for such an endeavour where already developed by the half of the 20 century in the period when computing power was scars. Although the mathematical methods were present for everyone, to understand them and learn how to apply them developed quite differently within every individual field in which Machine Learning/A.I. was applied. The way the same method would be applied by a physicist, a chemist, a biologist or an economist would differ so radical, that different words emerged which lead to different langues for similar algorithms. Even today, when Data Science has became a independent branch, two different Data Scientists from different application background could find it difficult to understand each other only from a language point of view. The moment they look at the methods and code the differences will slowly melt away.

Finding a universal language for Data Science is one of the next important steps in the development of A.I. Then it would be possible for a Data Scientist to successfully finish a project in industry, turn to a new one in physics, then biology and returning to industry without much need to learn special new languages in order to be able to perform each tasks. It would be possible to concentrate on that what a Data Scientist does best: find the best algorithm. In other words, a Data Scientist could resolve problems independent of the background the problem was stated.

This is the most important aspect that distinguish the Data Scientist. A mathematician is limited to solve problems in mathematics alone, a physicist is able to solve problems only in physics, a biologist problems only in biology. With a unique language regarding the methods and strategies to solve Machine Learning/A.I. problems, a Data Scientist can solve a problem independent of the field. Specialisation put different branches of science at drift from each other, but it is the evolution of the role of the Data Scientist to synthesize from all of them and find the quintessence in a language which transpire beyond all the field of science. The emerging language of Data Science is a new building block, a new mathematical language of nature.

Although such a perspective does not yet exists, the principal component of Machine Learning/A.I. already have such proprieties partially in form of data. Because predicting for example the numbers of eggs sold by a company or the numbers of patients which developed immune bacteria to a specific antibiotic in all hospital in a country can be performed by the same prediction method. The data do not carry any information about the entities which are being predicted. It does not matter anymore if the data are from Faraday’s experiment, CERN of Human Genome. The same data set and its corresponding prediction could stand literary for anything. Thus, the result of the prediction — what we would call for a human being intuition and/or estimation — would be independent of the domain, the area of knowledge it originated.

It also lies at the very heart of A.I., the dream of researcher to create self acting entities, that is machines with consciousness. This implies that the algorithms must be able to determine which task, model is relevant at a given moment. It would be to cumbersome to have a model for every task and and every field and then try to connect them all in one. The independence of scientific language, like of data, is thus a mandatory step. It also means that developing A.I. is not only connected to develop a new consciousness, but, and most important, to the development of our one.

Glorious career paths of a Big Data Professional

Are you wondering about the career profiles you may get to fill if you get into Big Data industry? If yes, then Bingo! This is the post that will inform you just about that. Big data is just an umbrella term. There are a lot of profiles and career paths that are covered under this umbrella term. Let us have a look at some of these profiles.

Data Visualisation Specialist

The process of visualizing data is turning out to be critical in guaranteeing information-driven representatives get the upfront investment required to actualize goal-oriented and significant Big Data extends in their organization. Making your data to tell a story and the craft of envisioning information convincingly has turned into a significant piece of the Big Data world and progressively associations need to have these capacities in-house. Besides, as a rule, these experts are relied upon to realize how to picture in different instruments, for example, Spotfire, D3, Carto, and Tableau – among numerous others. Information Visualization Specialists should be versatile and inquisitive to guarantee they stay aware of most recent patterns and answers for a recount to their information stories in the most intriguing manner conceivable with regards to the board room. 

 

Big Data Architect

This is the place the Hadoop specialists come in. Ordinarily, a Big Data planner tends to explicit information issues and necessities, having the option to portray the structure and conduct of a Big Data arrangement utilizing the innovation wherein they practice – which is, as a rule, mostly Hadoop.

These representatives go about as a significant connection between the association (and its specific needs) and Data Scientists and Engineers. Any organization that needs to assemble a Big Data condition will require a Big Data modeler who can serenely deal with the total lifecycle of a Hadoop arrangement – including necessity investigation, stage determination, specialized engineering structure, application plan, and advancement, testing the much-dreaded task of deploying lastly.

Systems Architect 

This Big data professional is in charge of how your enormous information frameworks are architected and interconnected. Their essential incentive to your group lies in their capacity to use their product building foundation and involvement with huge scale circulated handling frameworks to deal with your innovation decisions and execution forms. You’ll need this individual to construct an information design that lines up with the business, alongside abnormal state anticipating the improvement. The person in question will consider different limitations, adherence to gauges, and varying needs over the business.

Here are some responsibilities that they play:

    • Determine auxiliary prerequisites of databases by investigating customer tasks, applications, and programming; audit targets with customers and assess current frameworks.
    • Develop database arrangements by planning proposed framework; characterize physical database structure and utilitarian abilities, security, back-up and recuperation particulars.
    • Install database frameworks by creating flowcharts; apply ideal access methods, arrange establishment activities, and record activities.
    • Maintain database execution by distinguishing and settling generation and application advancement issues, figuring ideal qualities for parameters; assessing, incorporating, and putting in new discharges, finishing support and responding to client questions.
    • Provide database support by coding utilities, reacting to client questions, and settling issues.


Artificial Intelligence Developer

The certain promotion around Artificial Intelligence is additionally set to quicken the number of jobs publicized for masters who truly see how to apply AI, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning strategies in the business world. Selection representatives will request designers with broad learning of a wide exhibit of programming dialects which loan well to AI improvement, for example, Lisp, Prolog, C/C++, Java, and Python.

All said and done; many people estimate that this popular demand for AI specialists could cause a something like what we call a “Brain Drain” organizations poaching talented individuals away from the universe of the scholarly world. A month ago in the Financial Times, profound learning pioneer and specialist Yoshua Bengio, of the University of Montreal expressed: “The industry has been selecting a ton of ability — so now there’s a lack in the scholarly world, which is fine for those organizations. However, it’s not extraordinary for the scholarly world.” It ; howeverusiasm to perceive how this contention among the scholarly world and business is rotated in the following couple of years.

Data Scientist

The move of Big Data from tech publicity to business reality may have quickened, yet the move away from enrolling top Data Scientists isn’t set to change in 2020. An ongoing Deloitte report featured that the universe of business will require three million Data Scientists by 2021, so if their expectations are right, there’s a major ability hole in the market. This multidisciplinary profile requires specialized logical aptitudes, specialized software engineering abilities just as solid gentler abilities, for example, correspondence, business keenness, and scholarly interest.

Data Engineer

Clean and quality data is crucial in the accomplishment of Big Data ventures. Consequently, we hope to see a lot of opening in 2020 for Data Engineers who have a predictable and awesome way to deal with information transformation and treatment. Organizations will search for these special data masters to have broad involvement in controlling data with SQL, T-SQL, R, Hadoop, Hive, Python and Spark. Much like Data Scientists. They are likewise expected to be innovative with regards to contrasting information with clashing information types with have the option to determine issues. They additionally frequently need to make arrangements which enable organizations to catch existing information in increasingly usable information groups – just as performing information demonstrations and their modeling.

IT/Operations Manager Job Description

In Big data industry, the IT/Operations Manager is a profitable expansion to your group and will essentially be in charge of sending, overseeing, and checking your enormous information frameworks. You’ll depend on this colleague to plan and execute new hardware and administrations. The person in question will work with business partners to comprehend the best innovation ventures to address their procedures and concerns—interpreting business necessities to innovation plans. They’ll likewise work with venture chiefs to actualize innovation and be in charge of effective progress and general activities.

Here are some responsibilities that they play:

  • Manage and be proactive in announcing, settling and raising issues where required 
  • Lead and co-ordinate issue the executive’s exercises, notwithstanding ceaseless procedure improvement activities  
  • Proactively deal with our IT framework 
  • Supervise and oversee IT staffing, including enrollment, supervision, planning, advancement, and assessment
  • Verify existing business apparatuses and procedures remain ideally practical and worth included 
  • Benchmark, dissect, report on and make suggestions for the improvement and development of the IT framework and IT frameworks 
  • Advance and keep up a corporate SLA structure

Conclusion

These are some of the best career paths that big data professionals can play after entering the industry. Honesty and hard work can always take you to the zenith of any field that you choose to be in. Also, keep upgrading your skills by taking newer certifications and technologies. Good Luck 

How to Ensure Data Quality in an Organization?

Introduction to Data Quality

Today, the world is filled with data. It is everywhere. And, the value of any organization can be measured by the quality of its data. So, what actually is the quality of data or data quality, and why is it important? Well, data quality refers to the capability of a set of data to serve an intended purpose. 

Data quality is important to any organization because it provides timely and accurate information to manage accountability and services. It also helps to ensure and prioritize the best use of resources. Thus, high-quality data will lead to appropriate insights and valuable information for any organization. We can evaluate the quality of data in certain aspects. They include accuracy, relevancy, completeness, and uniqueness. 

Data Quality Problems

As the organizations are collecting vast amounts of data, managing its quality becomes more important every single day. In the year 2016, the costs of problems caused due to poor data quality were estimated by IBM, and it turned out to be $3.1 trillion across the U.S economy. Also, a Forrester report has stated that almost 30 percent of analysts spend 40 percent of their time validating and vetting their data prior to its utilization for strategic decision-making. These statistics indicate that the scale of the problems with data quality is vast.

So, why do these data quality problems occur? The main reasons include manual entry of data, software updates, integration of data sources, skills shortages, and insufficient testing time. Wrong decisions can be taken due to poor data management processes and poor quality of data. Because of this, many organizations lose their clients and customers. So, ensuring data quality must be given utmost importance in an organization. 

How to Ensure Data Quality?

Data quality management helps by combining data, technology, and organizational culture to deliver useful and accurate results. Good management of data quality builds a foundation for all the initiatives of a business. Now, let’s see how we can improve the data quality in an organization.

The first aspect of improving the quality of data is monitoring and cleansing data. This verifies data against standard statistical measures, validates data against matching descriptions, and uncovers relationships. This also checks the uniqueness of data and analyzes the data for its reusability. 

The second one is managing metadata centrally. Multiple people gather and clean data very often and they may work in different countries or offices. Therefore, you require clear policies on how data is gathered and managed as people in different parts of a company may misinterpret certain data terms and concepts. Centralized management of metadata is the solution to this problem as it reduces inconsistent interpretations and helps in establishing corporate standards.  

The next one is to ensure all the requirements are available and offer documentation for data processors and data providers. You have to format the specifications and offer a data dictionary and also provide training for the providers of data and all other new staff. Make sure you offer immediate help for all the data providers.

Very often, data is gathered from different sources and may include distinct spelling options. Hence, segmentation, scoring, smart lists, and many others are impacted by this. So, for entering a data point, a singular approach is essential, and data normalization provides this approach. The goal of this approach is to eliminate redundancy in data. Its advantages include easier object-to-data mapping and increased consistency.

The last aspect is to verify whether the data is consistent with the data rules and business goals, and this has to be done at regular intervals. You have to communicate the current status and data quality metrics to every stakeholder regularly to ensure the maintenance of data quality discipline across the organization.

Conclusion

Data quality is a continuous process but not a one-time project which needs the entire company to be data-focused and data-driven. It is much more than reliability and accuracy. High level of data quality can be achieved when the decision-makers have confidence in data and rely upon it. Follow the above-mentioned steps to ensure a high level of data quality in your organization. 

From BI to PI: The Next Step in the Evolution of Data-Driven Decisions

“Change is a constant.” “The pace of change is accelerating.” “The world is increasingly complex, and businesses have to keep up.” Organizations of all shapes and sizes have heard these ideas over and over—perhaps too often! However, the truth remains that adaptation is crucial to a successful business.


Read this article in German: Von der Datenanalyse zur Prozessverbesserung: So gelingt eine erfolgreiche Process-Mining-Initiative

 


Of course, the only way to ensure that the decisions you make are evolving in the right way is to understand the underlying building blocks of your organization. You can think of it as DNA; the business processes that underpin the way you work and combine to create a single unified whole. Knowing how those processes operate, and where the opportunities for improvement lie, can be the difference between success and failure.

Businesses with an eye on their growth understand this already. In the past, Business Intelligence was seen as the solution to this challenge. In more recent times, forward-thinking organizations see the need for monitoring solutions that can keep up with today’s rate of change, at the same time as they recognize that increasing complexity within business processes means traditional methods are no longer sufficient.

Adapting to a changing environment? The challenges of BI

Business Intelligence itself is not necessarily defunct or obsolete. However, the tools and solutions that enable Business Intelligence face a range of challenges in a fast-paced and constantly changing world. Some of these issues may include:

  • High data latency – Data latency refers to how long it takes for a business user to retrieve data from, for example, a business intelligence dashboard. In many cases, this can take more than 24 hours, a critical time period when businesses are attempting to take advantage of opportunities that may have a limited timeframe.
  • Incomplete data sets – The broad approach of Business Intelligence means investigations may run wide but not deep. This increases the chances that data will be missed, especially in instances where the tools themselves make the parameters for investigations difficult to change.
  • Discovery, not analysis – Business intelligence tools are primarily optimized for exploration, with a focus on actually finding data that may be useful to their users. Often, this is where the tools stop, offering no simple way for users to actually analyze the data, and therefore reducing the possibility of finding actionable insights.
  • Limited scalability – In general, Business Intelligence remains an arena for specialists and experts, leaving a gap in understanding for operational staff. Without a wide appreciation for processes and their analysis within an organization, the opportunities to increase the application of a particular Business Intelligence tool will be limited.
  • Unconnected metrics – Business Intelligence can be significantly restricted in its capacity to support positive change within a business through the use of metrics that are not connected to the business context. This makes it difficult for users to interpret and understand the results of an investigation, and apply these results to a useful purpose within their organization.

Process Intelligence: the next evolutionary step

To ensure companies can work efficiently and make the best decisions, a more effective method of process discovery is needed. Process Intelligence (PI) provides the critical background to answer questions that cannot be answered with Business Intelligence tools.

Process Intelligence offers visualization of end-to-end process sequences using raw data, and the right Process Intelligence tool means analysis of that raw data can be conducted straight away, so that processes are displayed accurately. The end-user is free to view and work with this accurate information as they please, without the need to do a preselection for the analysis.

By comparison, because Business Intelligence requires predefined analysis criteria, only once the criteria are defined can BI be truly useful. Organizations can avoid delayed analysis by using Process Intelligence to identify the root causes of process problems, then selecting the right criteria to determine the analysis framework.

Then, you can analyze your system processes and see the gaps and variants between the intended business process and what you actually have. And of course, the faster you discover what you have, the faster you can apply the changes that will make a difference in your business.

In short, Business Intelligence is suitable for gaining a broad understanding of the way a business usually functions. For some businesses, this will be sufficient. For others, an overview is not enough.

They understand that true insights lie in the detail, and are looking for a way of drilling down into exactly how each process within their organization actually works. Software that combines process discovery, process analysis, and conformance checking is the answer.

The right Process Intelligence tools means you will be able to automatically mine process models from the different IT systems operating within your business, as well as continuously monitor your end-to-end processes for insights into potential risks and ongoing improvement opportunities. All of this is in service of a collaborative approach to process improvement, which will lead to a game-changing understanding of how your business works, and how it can work better.

Early humans evolved from more primitive ancestors, and in the process, learned to use more and more sophisticated tools. For the modern human, working in a complex organization, the right tool is Process Intelligence.

Endless Potential with Signavio Process Intelligence

Signavio Process Intelligence allows you to unearth the truth about your processes and make better decisions based on true evidence found in your organization’s IT systems. Get a complete end-to-end perspective and understanding of exactly what is happening in your organization in a matter of weeks.

As part of Signavio Business Transformation Suite, Signavio Process Intelligence integrates perfectly with Signavio Process Manager and is accessible from the Signavio Collaboration Hub. As an entirely cloud-based process mining solution, the tool makes it easy to collaborate with colleagues from all over the world and harness the wisdom of the crowd.

Find out more about Signavio Process Intelligence, and see how it can help your organization generate more ideas, save time and money, and optimize processes.

Attribution Models in Marketing

Attribution Models

A Business and Statistical Case

INTRODUCTION

A desire to understand the causal effect of campaigns on KPIs

Advertising and marketing costs represent a huge and ever more growing part of the budget of companies. Studies have found out this share is as high as 10% and increases with the size of companies (CMO study by American Marketing Association and Duke University, 2017). Measuring precisely the impact of a specific marketing campaign on the sales of a company is a critical step towards an efficient allocation of this budget. Would the return be higher for an euro spent on a Facebook ad, or should we better spend it on a TV spot? How much should I spend on Twitter ads given the volume of sales this channel is responsible for?

Attribution Models have lately received great attention in Marketing departments to answer these issues. The transition from offline to online marketing methods has indeed permitted the collection of multiple individual data throughout the whole customer journey, and  allowed for the development of user-centric attribution models. In short, Attribution Models use the information provided by Tracking technologies such as Google Analytics or Webtrekk to understand customer journeys from the first click on a Facebook ad to the final purchase and adequately ponderate the different marketing campaigns encountered depending on their responsibility in the final conversion.

Issues on Causal Effects

A key question then becomes: how to declare a channel is responsible for a purchase? In other words, how can we isolate the causal effect or incremental value of a campaign ?

          1. A/B-Tests

One method to estimate the pure impact of a campaign is the design of randomized experiments, wherein a control and treated groups are compared.  A/B tests belong to this broad category of randomized methods. Provided the groups are a priori similar in every aspect except for the treatment received, all subsequent differences may be attributed solely to the treatment. This method is typically used in medical studies to assess the effect of a drug to cure a disease.

Main practical issues regarding Randomized Methods are:

  • Assuring that control and treated groups are really similar before treatment. Uually a random assignment (i.e assuring that on a relevant set of observable variables groups are similar) is realized;
  • Potential spillover-effects, i.e the possibility that the treatment has an impact on the non-treated group as well (Stable unit treatment Value Assumption, or SUTVA in Rubin’s framework);
  • The costs of conducting such an experiment, and especially the costs linked to the deliberate assignment of individuals to a group with potentially lower results;
  • The number of such experiments to design if multiple treatments have to be measured;
  • Difficulties taking into account the interaction effects between campaigns or the effect of spending levels. Indeed, usually A/B tests are led by cutting off temporarily one campaign entirely and measuring the subsequent impact on KPI’s compared to the situation where this campaign is maintained;
  • The dynamical reproduction of experiments if we assume that treatment effects may change over time.

In the marketing context, multiple campaigns must be tested in a dynamical way, and treatment effect is likely to be heterogeneous among customers, leading to practical issues in the lauching of A/B tests to approximate the incremental value of all campaigns. However, sites with a lot of traffic and conversions can highly benefit from A/B testing as it provides a scientific and straightforward way to approximate a causal impact. Leading companies such as Uber, Netflix or Airbnb rely on internal tools for A/B testing automation, which allow them to basically test any decision they are about to make.

References:

Books:

Experiment!: Website conversion rate optimization with A/B and multivariate testing, Colin McFarland, ©2013 | New Riders  

A/B testing: the most powerful way to turn clicks into customers. Dan Siroker, Pete Koomen; Wiley, 2013.

Blogs:

https://eng.uber.com/xp

https://medium.com/airbnb-engineering/growing-our-host-community-with-online-marketing-9b2302299324

Study:

https://cmosurvey.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/15/2018/08/The_CMO_Survey-Results_by_Firm_and_Industry_Characteristics-Aug-2018.pdf

        2. Attribution models

Attribution Models do not demand to create an experimental setting. They take into account existing data and derive insights from the variability of customer journeys. One key difficulty is then to differentiate correlation and causality in the links observed between the exposition to campaigns and purchases. Indeed, selection effects may bias results as exposure to campaigns is usually dependant on user-characteristics and thus may not be necessarily independant from the customer’s baseline conversion probabilities. For example, customers purchasing from a discount price comparison website may be intrinsically different from customers buying from FB ad and this a priori difference may alone explain post-exposure differences in purchasing bahaviours. This intrinsic weakness must be remembered when interpreting Attribution Models results.

                          2.1 General Issues

The main issues regarding the implementation of Attribution Models are linked to

  • Causality and fallacious reasonning, as most models do not take into account the aforementionned selection biases.
  • Their difficult evaluation. Indeed, in almost all attribution models (except for those based on classification, where the accuracy of the model can be computed), the additionnal value brought by the use of a given attribution models cannot be evaluated using existing historical data. This additionnal value can only be approximated by analysing how the implementation of the conclusions of the attribution model have impacted a given KPI.
  • Tracking issues, leading to an uncorrect reconstruction of customer journeys
    • Cross-device journeys: cross-device issue arises from the use of different devices throughout the customer journeys, making it difficult to link datapoints. For example, if a customer searches for a product on his computer but later orders it on his mobile, the AM would then mistakenly consider it an order without prior campaign exposure. Though difficult to measure perfectly, the proportion of cross-device orders can approximate 20-30%.
    • Cookies destruction makes it difficult to track the customer his the whole journey. Both regulations and consumers’ rising concerns about data privacy issues mitigate the reliability and use of cookies.1 – From 2002 on, the EU has enacted directives concerning privacy regulation and the extended use of cookies for commercial targeting purposes, which have highly impacted marketing strategies, such as the ‘Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive’ (2002/58/EC). A research was conducted and found out that the adoption of this ‘Privacy Directive’ had led to 64% decrease in advertising methods compared to the rest of the world (Goldfarb et Tucker (2011)). The effect was stronger for generalized sites (Yahoo) than for specialized sites.2 – Users have grown more and more conscious of data privacy issues and have adopted protective measures concerning data privacy, such as automatic destruction of cookies after a session is ended, or simply giving away less personnal information (Goldfarb et Tucker (2012) ) .Valuable user information may be lost, though tracking technologies evolution have permitted to maintain tracking by other means. This issue may be particularly important in countries highly concerned with data privacy issues such as Germany.
    • Offline/Online bridge: an Attribution Model should take into account all campaigns to draw valuable insights. However, the exposure to offline campaigns (TV, newspapers) are difficult to track at the user level. One idea to tackle this issue would be to estimate the proportion of conversions led by offline campaigns through AB testing and deduce this proportion from the credit assigned to the online campaigns accounted for in the Attribution Model.
    • Touch point information available: clicks are easy to follow but irrelevant to take into account the influence of purely visual campaigns such as display ads or video.

                          2.2 Today’s main practices

Two main families of Attribution Models exist:

  • Rule-Based Attribution Models, which have been used for in the last decade but from which companies are gradualy switching.

Attribution depends on the individual journeys that have led to a purchase and is solely based on the rank of the campaign in the journey. Some models focus on a single touch points (First Click, Last Click) while others account for multi-touch journeys (Bathtube, Linear). It can be calculated at the customer level and thus doesn’t require large amounts of data points. We can distinguish two sub-groups of rule-based Attribution Models:

  • One Touch Attribution Models attribute all credit to a single touch point. The First-Click model attributes all credit for a converion to the first touch point of the customer journey; last touch attributes all credit to the last campaign.
  • Multi-touch Rule-Based Attribution Models incorporate information on the whole customer journey are thus an improvement compared to one touch models. To this family belong Linear model where credit is split equally between all channels, Bathtube model where 40% of credit is given to first and last clicks and the remaining 20% is distributed equally between the middle channels, or time-decay models where credit assigned to a click diminishes as the time between the click and the order increases..

The main advantages of rule-based models is their simplicity and cost effectiveness. The main problems are:

– They are a priori known and can thus lead to optimization strategies from competitors
– They do not take into account aggregate intelligence on customer journeys and actual incremental values.
– They tend to bias (depending on the model chosen) channels that are over-represented at the beggining or end of the funnel, according to theoretical assumptions that have no observationnal back-ups.

  • Data-Driven Attribution Models

These models take into account the weaknesses of rule-based models and make a relevant use of available data. Being data-driven, following attribution models cannot be computed using single user level data. On the contrary values are calculated through data aggregation and thus require a certain volume of customer journey information.

References:

https://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/64920

 

        3. Data-Driven Attribution Models in practice

                          3.1 Issues

Several issues arise in the computation of campaigns individual impact on a given KPI within a data-driven model.

  • Selection biases: Exposure to certain types of advertisement is usually highly correlated to non-observable variables which are in turn correlated to consumption practices. Differences in the behaviour of users exposed to different campaigns may thus only be driven by core differences in conversion probabilities between groups whether than by the campaign effect.
  • Complementarity: it may be that campaigns A and B only have an effect when combined, so that measuring their individual impact would lead to misleading conclusions. The model could then try to assess the effect of combinations of campaigns on top of the effect of individual campaigns. As the number of possible non-ordered combinations of k campaigns is 2k, it becomes clear that inclusing all possible combinations would however be time-consuming.
  • Order-sensitivity: The effect of a campaign A may depend on the place where it appears in the customer journey, meaning the rank of a campaign and not merely its presence could be accounted for in the model.
  • Relative Order-sensitivity: it may be that campaigns A and B only have an effect when one is exposed to campaign A before campaign B. If so, it could be useful to assess the effect of given combinations of campaigns as well. And this for all campaigns, leading to tremendous numbers of possible combinations.
  • All previous phenomenon may be present, increasing even more the potential complexity of a comprehensive Attribution Model. The number of all possible ordered combination of k campaigns is indeed :

 

                          3.2 Main models

                                  A) Logistic Regression and Classification models

If non converting journeys are available, Attribition Model can be shaped as a simple classification issue. Campaign types or campaigns combination and volume of campaign types can be included in the model along with customer or time variables. As we are interested in inference (on campaigns effect) whether than prediction, a parametric model should be used, such as Logistic Regression. Non paramatric models such as Random Forests or Neural Networks can also be used though the interpretation of campaigns value would be more difficult to derive from the model results.

A common pitfall is the usual issue of spurious correlations on one hand and the correct interpretation of coefficients in business terms.

An advantage if the possibility to evaluate the relevance of the model using common model validation methods to evaluate its predictive power (validation set \ AUC \pseudo R squared).

                                  B) Shapley Value

Theory

The Shapley Value is based on a Game Theory framework and is named after its creator, the Nobel Price Laureate Lloyd Shapley. Initially meant to calculate the marginal contribution of players in cooperative games, the model has received much attention in research and industry and has lately been applied to marketing issues. This model is typically used by Google Adords and other ad bidding vendors. Campaigns or marketing channels are in this model seen as compementary players looking forward to increasing a given KPI.
Contrarily to Logistic Regressions, it is a non-parametric model. Contrarily to Markov Chains, all results are built using existing journeys, and not simulated ones.

Channels are considered to enter the game sequentially under a certain joining order. Shapley value try to The Shapley value of channel i is the weighted sum of the marginal values that channel i adds to all possible coalitions that don’t contain channel i.
In other words, the main logic is to analyse the difference of gains when a channel i is added after a coalition Ck of k channels, k<=n. We then sum all the marginal contributions over all possible ordered combination Ck of all campaigns excluding i, with k<=n-1.

Subsets framework

A first an most usual way to compute the Shapley Vaue is to consider that when a channel enters coalition, its additionnal value is the same irrelevant of the order in which previous channels have appeared. In other words, journeys (A>B>C) and (B>A>C) trigger the same gains.
Shapley value is computed as the gains associated to adding a channel i to a subset of channels, weighted by the number of (ordered) sequences that the (unordered) subset represents, summed up on all possible subsets of the total set of campaigns where the channel i is not present.
The Shapley value of the channel ???????? is then:

where |S| is the number of campaigns of a coalition S and the sum extends over all subsets S that do not not contain channel j. ????(????)  is the value of the coalition S and ????(???? ∪ {????????})  the value of the coalition formed by adding ???????? to coalition S. ????(???? ∪ {????????}) − ????(????) is thus the marginal contribution of channel ???????? to the coalition S.

The formula can be rewritten and understood as:

This method is convenient when data on the gains of on all possible permutations of all unordered k subsets of the n campaigns are available. It is also more convenient if the order of campaigns prior to the introduction of a campaign is thought to have no impact.

Ordered sequences

Let us define ????((A>B)) as the value of the sequence A then B. What is we let ????((A>B)) be different from ????((B>A)) ?
This time we would need to sum over all possible permutation of the S campaigns present before  ???????? and the N-(S+1) campaigns after ????????. Doing so we will sum over all possible orderings (i.e all permutations of the n campaigns of the grand coalition containing all campaigns) and we can remove the permutation coefficient s!(p-s+1)!.

This method is convenient when the order of channels prior to and after the introduction of another channel is assumed to have an impact. It is also necessary to possess data for all possible permutations of all k subsets of the n campaigns, and not only on all (unordered) k-subsets of the n campaigns, k<=n. In other words, one must know the gains of A, B, C, A>B, B>A, etc. to compute the Shapley Value.

Differences between the two approaches

We simulate an ordered case where the value for each ordered sequence k for k<=3 is known. We compare it to the usual Shapley value calculated based on known gains of unordered subsets of campaigns. So as to compare relevant values, we have built the gains matrix so that the gains of a subset A, B i.e  ????({B,A}) is the average of the gains of ordered sequences made up with A and B (assuming the number of journeys where A>B equals the number of journeys where B>A, we have ????({B,A})=0.5( ????((A>B)) + ????((B>A)) ). We let the value of the grand coalition be different depending on the order of campaigns-keeping the constraints that it averages to the value used for the unordered case.

Note: mvA refers to the marginal value of A in a given sequence.
With traditionnal unordered coalitions:

With ordered sequences used to compute the marginal values:

 

We can see that the two approaches yield very different results. In the unordered case, the Shapley Value campaign C is the highest, culminating at 20, while A and B have the same Shapley Value mvA=mvB=15. In the ordered case, campaign A has the highest Shapley Value and all campaigns have different Shapley Values.

This example illustrates the inherent differences between the set and sequences approach to Shapley values. Real life data is more likely to resemble the ordered case as conversion probabilities may for any given set of campaigns be influenced by the order through which the campaigns appear.

Advantages

Shapley value has become popular in allocation problems in cooperative games because it is the unique allocation which satisfies different axioms:

  • Efficiency: Shaple Values of all channels add up to the total gains (here, orders) observed.
  • Symmetry: if channels A and B bring the same contribution to any coalition of campaigns, then their Shapley Value i sthe same
  • Null player: if a channel brings no additionnal gains to all coalitions, then its Shapley Value is zero
  • Strong monotony: the Shapley Value of a player increases weakly if all its marginal contributions increase weakly

These properties make the Shapley Value close to what we intuitively define as a fair attribution.

Issues

  • The Shapley Value is based on combinatory mathematics, and the number of possible coalitions and ordered sequences becomes huge when the number of campaigns increases.
  • If unordered, the Shapley Value assumes the contribution of campaign A is the same if followed by campaign B or by C.
  • If ordered, the number of combinations for which data must be available and sufficient is huge.
  • Channels rarely present or present in long journeys will be played down.
  • Generally, gains are supposed to grow with the number of players in the game. However, it is plausible that in the marketing context a journey with a high number of channels will not necessarily bring more orders than a journey with less channels involved.

References:

R package: GameTheoryAllocation

Article:
Zhao & al, 2018 “Shapley Value Methods for Attribution Modeling in Online Advertising “
https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s13278-017-0480-z.pdf
Courses: https://www.lamsade.dauphine.fr/~airiau/Teaching/CoopGames/2011/coopgames-7%5b8up%5d.pdf
Blogs: https://towardsdatascience.com/one-feature-attribution-method-to-supposedly-rule-them-all-shapley-values-f3e04534983d

                                  B) Markov Chains

Markov Chains are used to model random processes, i.e events that occur in a sequential manner and in such a way that the probability to move to a certain state only depends on the past steps. The number of previous steps that are taken into account to model the transition probability is called the memory parameter of the sequence, and for the model to have a solution must be comprised between 0 and 4. A Markov Chain process is thus defined entirely by its Transition Matrix and its initial vector (i.e the starting point of the process).

Markov Chains are applied in many scientific fields. Typically, they are used in weather forecasting, with the sequence of Sunny and Rainy days following a Markov Process of memory parameter 0, so that for each given day the probability that the next day will be rainy or sunny only depends on the weather of the current day. Other applications can be found in sociology to understand the dynamics of social classes intergenerational reproduction. To get more both mathematical and applied illustration, I recommend the reading of this course.

In the marketing context, Markov Chains are an interesting way to model the conversion funnel. To go from the from the Markov Model to the Attribution logic, we calculate the Removal Effect of each channel, i.e the difference in conversions that happen if the channel is removed. Please read below for an introduction to the methodology.

The first step in a Markov Chains Attribution Model is to build the transition matrix that captures the transition probabilities between the campaigns accross existing customer journeys. This Matrix is to be read as a “From state A to state B” table, from the left to the right. A first difficulty is finding the right memory parameter to use. A large memory parameter would allow to take more into account interraction effects within the conversion funnel but would lead to increased computationnal time, a non-readable transition matrix, and be more sensitive to noisy data. Please note that this transition matrix provides useful information on the conversion funnel and on the relationships between campaigns and can be used as such as an analytical tool. I suggest the clear and easily R code which can be found here or here.

Here is an illustration of a Markov Chain with memory Parameter of 0: the probability to go to a certain campaign B in the next step only depend on the campaign we are currently at:

The associated Transition Matrix is then (with null probabilities left as Blank):

The second step is  to compute the actual responsibility of a channel in total conversions. As mentionned above, the main philosophy to do so is to calculate the Removal Effect of each channel, i.e the changes in the number of conversions when a channel is entirely removed. All customer journeys which went through this channel are settled out to be unsuccessful. This calculation is done by applying the transition matrix with and without the removed channels to an initial vector that contains the number of desired simulations.

Building on our current example, we can then settle an initial vector with the desired number of simulations, e.g 10 000:

 

It is possible at this stage to add a constraint on the maximum number of times the matrix is applied to the data, i.e on the maximal number of campaigns a simulated journey is allowed to have.

Advantages

  • The dynamic journey is taken into account, as well as the transition between two states. The funnel is not assumed to be linear.
  • It is possile to build a conversion graph that maps the customer journey provides valuable insights.
  • It is possible to evaluate partly the accuracy of the Attribution Model based on Markov Chains. It is for example possible to see how well the transition matrix help predict the future by analysing the number of correct predictions at any given step over all sequences.

Disadvantages

  • It can be somewhat difficult to set the memory parameter. Complementarity effects between channels are not well taken into account if the memory is low, but a parameter too high will lead to over-sensitivity to noise in the data and be difficult to implement if customer journeys tend to have a number of campaigns below this memory parameter.
  • Long journeys with different channels involved will be overweighted, as they will count many times in the Removal Effect.  For example, if there are n-1 channels in the customer journey, this journey will be considered as failure for the n-1 channel-RE. If the volume effects (i.e the impact of the overall number of channels in a journey, irrelevant from their type° are important then results may be biased.

References:

R package: ChannelAttribution

Git:

https://github.com/MatCyt/Markov-Chain/blob/master/README.md

Course:

https://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~jmontgom/markovchains.pdf

Article:

“Mapping the Customer Journey: A Graph-Based Framework for Online Attribution Modeling”; Anderl, Eva and Becker, Ingo and Wangenheim, Florian V. and Schumann, Jan Hendrik, 2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2343077 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2343077

“Media Exposure through the Funnel: A Model of Multi-Stage Attribution”, Abhishek & al, 2012

“Multichannel Marketing Attribution Using Markov Chains”, Kakalejčík, L., Bucko, J., Resende, P.A.A. and Ferencova, M. Journal of Applied Management and Investments, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 49-60.  2018

Blogs:

https://analyzecore.com/2016/08/03/attribution-model-r-part-1

https://analyzecore.com/2016/08/03/attribution-model-r-part-2

                          3.3 To go further: Tackling selection biases with Quasi-Experiments

Exposure to certain types of advertisement is usually highly correlated to non-observable variables. Differences in the behaviour of users exposed to different campaigns may thus only be driven by core differences in converison probabilities between groups whether than by the campaign effect. These potential selection effects may bias the results obtained using historical data.

Quasi-Experiments can help correct this selection effect while still using available observationnal data.  These methods recreate the settings on a randomized setting. The goal is to come as close as possible to the ideal of comparing two populations that are identical in all respects except for the advertising exposure. However, populations might still differ with respect to some unobserved characteristics.

Common quasi-experimental methods used for instance in Public Policy Evaluation are:

  • Discontinuity Regressions
  • Matching Methods, such as Exact Matching,  Propensity-score matching or k-nearest neighbourghs.

References:

Article:

“Towards a digital Attribution Model: Measuring the impact of display advertising on online consumer behaviour”, Anindya Ghose & al, MIS Quarterly Vol. 40 No. 4, pp. 1-XX, 2016

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/4fa6/1c53f281fa63a9f0617fbd794d54911a2f84.pdf

        4. First Steps towards a Practical Implementation

Identify key points of interests

  • Identify the nature of touchpoints available: is the data based on clicks? If so, is there a way to complement the data with A/B tests to measure the influence of ads without clicks (display, video) ? For example, what happens to sales when display campaign is removed? Analysing this multiplier effect would give the overall responsibility of display on sales, to be deduced from current attribution values given to click-based channels. More interestingly, what is the impact of the removal of display campaign on the occurences of click-based campaigns ? This would give us an idea of the impact of display ads on the exposure to each other campaigns, which would help correct the attribution values more precisely at the campaign level.
  • Define the KPI to track. From a pure Marketing perspective, looking at purchases may be sufficient, but from a financial perspective looking at profits, though a bit more difficult to compute, may drive more interesting results.
  • Define a customer journey. It may seem obvious, but the notion needs to be clarified at first. Would it be defined by a time limit? If so, which one? Does it end when a conversion is observed? For example, if a customer makes 2 purchases, would the campaigns he’s been exposed to before the first order still be accounted for in the second order? If so, with a time decay?
  • Define the research framework: are we interested only in customer journeys which have led to conversions or in all journeys? Keep in mind that successful customer journeys are a non-representative sample of customer journeys. Models built on the analysis of biased samples may be conservative. Take an extreme example: 80% of customers who see campaign A buy the product, VS 1% for campaign B. However, campaign B exposure is great and 100 Million people see it VS only 1M for campaign A. An Attribution Model based on successful journeys will give higher credit to campaign B which is an auguable conclusion. Taking into account costs per campaign (in the case where costs are calculated by clicks) may of course tackle this issue partly, as campaign A could then exhibit higher returns, but a serious fallacious reasonning is at stake here.

Analyse the typical customer journey    

  • Performing a duration analysis on the data may help you improve the definition of the customer journey to be used by your organization. After which days are converison probabilities null? Should we consider the effect of campaigns disappears after x days without orders? For example, if 99% of orders are placed in the 30 days following a first click, it might be interesting to define the customer journey as a 30 days time frame following the first oder.
  • Look at the distribution of the number of campaigns in a typical journey. If you choose to calculate the effect of campaigns interraction in your Attribution Model, it may indeed help you determine the maximum number of campaigns to be included in a combination. Indeed, you may not need to assess the impact of channel combinations with above than 4 different channels if 95% of orders are placed after less then 4 campaigns.
  • Transition matrixes: what if a campaign A systematically leads to a campaign B? What happens if we remove A or B? These insights would give clues to ask precise questions for a latter AB test, for example to find out if there is complementarity between channels A and B – (implying none should be removed) or mere substitution (implying one can be given up).
  • If conversion rates are available: it can be interesting to perform a survival analysis i.e to analyse the likelihood of conversion based on duration since first click. This could help us excluse potential outliers or individuals who have very low conversion probabilities.

Summary

Attribution is a complex topic which will probably never be definitively solved. Indeed, a main issue is the difficulty, or even impossibility, to evaluate precisely the accuracy of the attribution model that we’ve built. Attribution Models should be seen as a good yet always improvable approximation of the incremental values of campaigns, and be presented with their intrinsinc limits and biases.