In our continuing analysis of the Analytical Mind Map, in which Aberdeen research has identified unique personas found in users of analytics and business intelligence products, we look at some of the specific personas through a real-world lens. Previously, we talked to a real-world gunslinger and now we look at a case study of how a detective approaches analytics in the real-world.
Bob Scavilla is the Founder and Chief Technical Officer of FourFront, a data-driven digital marketing company specializing in search engine optimization and digital visibility. Aberdeen’s Analytical Mind Map identified Scavilla as a Detective: a data-driven decision maker who creates his own insights.
Scavilla and his team immerse themselves in the fields of their clients when they take on a project. This means getting their hands on as much data as possible. His team works with search results to determine how search algorithms react in a given vertical.
“When I have a lot of data points to work with, I can make a decision that feels fully informed,” says Scavilla. “My decision logic is always based on information and I’m a little bit OCD when it comes to finding all the data sources I can.”
Scavilla’s commitment to analytics enables him to discern what factors influence the data and what the larger trends are in an industry. FourFront creates custom search bots to let algorithms reveal insights on different verticals.
“I feel very responsible when I offer direction to an organization to make sure I present unbiased opinions. I become very well informed not just about the data and what it’s saying, but I educate myself so I can talk about a client’s field with some authority. My team learns about the business as we’re collecting data about it. We become part of the industry for a month or two and shape ourselves as field experts.”
Scavilla emphasizes putting data in context, a logical approach given his background in pattern recognition software and predictive analytics. So in addition to producing data for clients using search bots and other techniques, he also wants to interpret existing data.
“Most companies are light years away from internally integrating their data. For instance, in manufacturing, CRM often doesn’t talk to shipping. We can pull all that data individually, bring it together and perform high-level analysis.”
Scavilla believes that many people misinterpret what their data is telling them. He attributes FourFront’s enviable track record of solving analytical mysteries to his team’s ability to achieve a holistic view of what all the data is saying.
The company recently worked for an advocacy campaign that needed help building a subscriber base. FourFront found the entry points into the vertical and examined data on where the target audience’s searches were taking individuals. Scavilla and his team produced a full study on the search data of the target audience and ultimately built a strategy that delivered significant growth in subscribers over a three month period.
“The amount of data we had allowed us to truly understand potential subscribers and build an authenticated audience,” says Scavilla.
While Scavilla is primarily a Detective, he sometimes has to play the role of other analytical personas.
“We don’t have a lot of Professors (individuals with ten years or more of experience and a graduate degree in a technical field). I’m considered the data scientist. I write in R and play the role of data practitioner. That’s why I have a CEO and COO.”
Scavilla’s data-driven nature also causes him to pass on certain opportunities.
“We’re not set up to monetize opportunities in short order. We work with companies to make them best-in-breed. Our business model is based on establishing long-term relationships with clients and pouring over data on upcoming trends to position clients where they need to be. That’s why our clients stick with us. We had an opportunity around a political issue in Washington where we would have needed to develop topic authority in less than two weeks. We’re not set up for short, explosive windows like that.”
A Gunslinger might like to pull the trigger on such an opportunity, even at the expense of comprehensive data analysis.
“Someday we might have a SWAT team for that,” says Scavilla, “but our commitment to data will still be the same.”
Scavilla also values Evangelist traits on his team. FourFront recognizes that while data is king, a team of all Detectives is not necessarily the best approach.
“I like people who extol the virtues of what we’re doing and also genuinely like what they’re doing. We use a personality test to look at where people’s strengths lie. We’ve built a team of people that complement each other, but also offer diverse perspectives.”
For more on this topic, read the Aberdeen report Analytical Detectives: Solving Data Mysteries