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3 Key Takeaways for Building A Successful Digital Testing Culture


Last week I was at Salt Lake City for the Adobe Summit. I was fortunate to attend the session: Digital Governance: Defining A Strategic Roadmap for Data-Driven Success. I say fortunate because the session was so crowded that I had to wait in the standby line. After hearing Brent Dykes, the Senior Manager Industry Consulting with Adobe and author of the book, Web Analytics Action Hero, frame the goals of the session, I knew why it was so popular.

The Digital Governance Framework, debuted at last year’s Adobe Summit, is a framework to establish a digital roadmap to be successful in your organization. The structure of a successful organization is all about a balanced approach. At the bottom of the balancing act is leadership buy-in to the process. Balancing on top of that is a clear strategy for what should be achieved. And on top of the strategy is the Three P’s: Product, People and Process.

To truly illustrate the Digital Governance Framework, Dykes was joined for a Q&A session by Ken Seiff and Cindy Lincks from legendary international retailer Brooks Brothers. Ken is the EVP of Direct and Omni-Channel and Cindy is the VP, Analytics. Since Seiff joined Brooks Brothers in August 2011, he has built a world-class testing and analytics team, and his team’s initial successes have fostered a testing culture within the entire organization. Here are three key takeaways from this informative session:

1. Focus on short-term goals.

When asked what initial challenges Ken faced when joining Brooks Brothers, he spoke mostly about short-term goals. Brooks Brothers was using a very old system for their online experience, and even making daily site updates was a problem. His first step was to focus on staff. He brought in an online analytics team (led by Cindy Lincks) and an online merchandising team. Instead of trying to tackle everything at once, he focused on a few KPIs. This meant ignoring mobile and social while everyone else jumped onboard. Instead, the team concentrated on fixing the core issues: implementing the right measurement tools, choosing which data points to capture and making sure everything was tagged properly. Fortunately, the CEO was very patient, telling him, “We’ve been around for 153 years. There’s nothing you can do to put that at risk, so take your time and do it right.”

Many times organizations will expect big results in a short amount of time. I like the approach the Brooks Brothers team had—making sure the foundation was set before striving for loftier goals.

2. Share and educate.

When asked, “How do you build a data-driven organization?” Cindy’s advised establishing an environment of sharing. She explained that Brooks Brothers has monthly meetings where members of different departments share their knowledge. This is a great way to get the entire company aware of your goals, and is also useful to identify members of other departments that may have interest in testing.

These types of programs show a commitment to the focus of the organization from top to bottom, and Brooks Brothers should be commended for having that approach. Here at Brooks Bell we have had similar successes with sharing and education programs as a way to get our entire organization aligned as experts in testing and optimization.

3. Don’t ask for money.

My favorite question asked in this session was, “What advice can you give when your boss doesn’t buy in to your testing?” Ken answered very quickly with, “Be very thoughtful how you present your results. Tell a story. Make it about economics and don’t ask for money.”

I liked that question because it is a challenge that many organizations face. How can you get your boss to get on board with what you are doing with data and analytics? The concept of telling a story with data has been a popular rallying cry in the analyst community for years now. Unfortunately, some people think that is the cure-all. The real solution is to tell the story in a compelling, succinct way. Save all the supporting data for the appendix of your presentation. By using your data to prove the economics around your programs, you’ll never need to ask for money.

These were my three key takeaways from the Digital Governance session at Adobe Summit. What ideas have contributed to your company’s successful testing culture?