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I’m still on cloud nine from representing SAP as a winner of the coveted ANA Analytic Genius Award in front of 2,500 attendees at the Masters of Marketing conference October 14 – 17, 2015. SAP was rewarded for demonstrating Excellence in Analytics Driven Strategy, out of a strong finalist pool that included Charles Schwab and IBM and scores of other submissions. Here is a picture of Nancy Fessatidis, Head of Big Data Analytics @SAP, accepting the trophy with me looking on with pride. I am the business lead on our events analytics program, called SAP Insight-Driven Events, which was formally established over 3 years ago.

Once we were backstage after receiving our award, a fellow Genius award winner asked me “so, what’s in the secret sauce”?  I’ve been contemplating this question over the weekend and decided to share my thoughts on what are the secrets to our success.

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Twinkle, twinkle, little star…..

Many presenters at the ANA Masters of Marketing conference spoke of needing a “North Star”.  This is an essential ingredient and foundational starting point.  Our North Star, or event business objectives, was defined by internal executive stakeholder, Mike Trovalli, Global Head of SAP Events:

1)            Deliver an Exceptional Customer Experience

2)            Drive Awareness and Consideration of SAP Solutions

3)            Accelerate Outcomes (ROI)

Definition of Learning Agenda topics to support the business objectives is next and this is done by business analytical experts like me.  Questions such as: “Is our content relevant for the attending audience”; “How did the event influence customer satisfaction”; “Did we expand awareness and consideration of our solutions?” and “Which event format is most cost efficient?” inform our analytical execution.

The analytic methodologies are created by our team of data scientists, and Business Intelligence experts. Below are qualitative and quantitative approaches that when combined, deliver insights that map back to our “North Star” event learning objectives.

  • Solution Propensity models – We have 108 models that are used to identify interest, recommend solutions based on persona, industry, line of business and other key customer attributes.  Sales and marketing rely on these to prioritize and structure constructive conversations.
  • Market Research surveys are executed pre and post event to measure change of attitudes, attendee satisfaction (often called net promoter score), and isolate drivers.  Areas addressed include solutions, intent to purchase, perception of SAP, content quality and overall experience of event components. Drivers of event satisfaction are identified using statistical tests to confidently determine which conference components SAP should improve to further optimize attendee experience.
  • Customer Advisory Board (CAB) is by-invitation-only board of 20 customers to provide qualitative feedback via focus group and customized survey feedback on the 3 day SAPPHIRE NOW event experience.  The learnings are used to amplify and humanize quantitative findings and improve overall attendee experience.
  • Behavioral cluster analysis applies our proprietary fingerprint methodology using data captured at the event, including scanned and anonymous sensor data, to understand content popularity, identify “like” behaviors and correlate to outcomes.  Over 2.2 billion combinations feed into the clustering process and return insight on content engagement, relevance, and impact. This approach helps us understand individual behavior at the event, providing insight to areas of most interest to attendees and of most value to SAP.
  • Marketing Mix Optimization:  specialized econometric modeling and simulation process to inform investment decisions across a mix of marketing tactics and identify incremental impact on outcomes.  The proof points are used as input to strategic planning decisions.
  • Business Intelligence for Event ROI:  Pre and post event measures are reported across SAP to provide visibility on impact to our business funnel. This is sliced and delivered by solution area, industry, geography, line of business, and enables strategic ROI calculations to be compared year over year influencing the event portfolio.
  • Social sentiment analysis isolates social engagement topics, themes, and sentiment between onsite and virtual attendees to understand key messages that resonate, product buzz, impact of brand accounts, organic engagement, and top influencers.
  • Intelligent customer follow-up by the Field:  uses scans and propensity intelligence to prioritize and coordinate the customer experience post event.

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“If you build it, they will come” 

In the movie Field of Dreams, ghosts of baseball players magically arrive to play in the newly created baseball field.   If only it was so simple in the world of analytics.    Once the analytics have been “built”, the most critical step, is making sure that the insights are well understood and used to drive action. This is a must-have to generate outcomes aligned to the “North Star” objectives.   By working across operational and analytical teams, providing education and insight reviews, we are able to successfully embed insights into event and field processes through a methodology we call Insight Activation;  below are examples of event outcomes that leveraged intelligence from our analytic program:

  • Redesign of event mobile app to enable networking, awareness of exhibitors, and navigation across a venue the size of 16 football fields!
  • Events teams increased networking space and executive conversation opportunities, expanded meeting center by 40%;
  • Marketing communications were tailored to personas, functions, and solution interest areas;
  • Customer-facing teams used analytic recommendations to tailor customer agendas, prioritize conversations at the event and following;
  • Introduction of a new event format, SAP Select, to replace a less productive one.  SAP Select results were phenomenal – with high attendee satisfaction and improved efficiency
  • Influenced a change to KPIs to better reflect and sharpen the event objectives across teams at SAP
  • Development of analytics to ensure identification and representation of priority Customers at the event.

So, what IS in the secret sauce?

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These ingredients include some of the intangibles that you will never see on a project plan, yet are crucial to analytic success.

  1. A North Star: know your business objectives and use to mobilize the team
  2. A brave and bold senior stakeholder: a true believer in the “science of marketing”, willing to test new approaches, using the data to make the tough call, and incent behavioral change through metrics
  3. Be a strategic advisor, not just a service provider of analytics.  Know what’s important to your internal stakeholder and see the big picture.
  4. Be proactive.  Don’t wait to be asked. Propose new approaches, offer ideas, and explore new options.
  5. Small teams work.  3-4 players with complementary skillsets (business lead, data scientist, BI developer, data specialist) can be more decisive, efficient and effective at delivering results.
  6. Empower your teams to be decision makers. Know when to escalate and when not to.
  7. Actions not Words.  You learn by doing, not just talking. Pilots and proof of concepts get the ball rolling quickly.
  8. Have a plan B, and a plan C.   Plan A rarely works as expected, be ready with other options to counteract the unexpected issues.  Triage, understand root cause, and mitigate going forward.
  9. Know “who’s who” in the organization.   Put yourself in their shoes, and ask what questions they need answered to advance strategic areas.
  10. Communicate constantly.  In a global organization, across multiple time zones, much of the work is achieved virtually via email or phone. Documenting key highlights and decisions from meetings is essential to momentum.

And, last but not least, keep your eye on the prize! I am so proud of our team and key contributors for their passion and dedication in furthering our Insight- Driven Events analytics program, and being rewarded with the ANA Genius award.  Congratulations SAP!

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3 Comments

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  1. Nancy Fessatidis

    Thanks for sharing your insider perspective Lynette.  So many practical tips and advice here.  Creating the insights is just half the battle.  Using it to drive change in strategy to deliver improved business outcomes and customer experience is where the power of analytics truly lies.

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  2. Cathy Cooper

    Clear and practical advice, Lynette.  I love how you pointed out that partnership and business acumen is crucial for success in analytics.  And I especially agree with having Plan B and C. Congrats on the #GeniusAwards win — well-deserved!

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  3. Patricia Tillotson

    There is much wisdom in your blog Lynette that many others can benefit from.  I do believe if you follow the advice given here you are ensured success.  A Huge congratulations to the Insight Driven events team and SAP!

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