All about AnalyticsCamp

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~ Contributed by I-kong Fu ~

AnalyticsCamp is an unconference started by Nathan Gilliatt after a group of us met at a networking meeting in Raleigh last year called Web Analytics Wednesday. The first AnalyticsCamp will take place at UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School in Chapel Hill on Saturday, February 6th, hosted by UNC's MBA Marketing and Business Technology Clubs. It is themed around bridging analytics silos to bring analysts of all stripes together on one day.

SAS is a sponsor of the event, and I and several other folks from SAS including Manya Mayes, Richard Foley, Angela Hall, and Varsha Chawla have volunteered to lead sessions and help organize some of the behind-the-scenes logistics. In this guest post, I'll be interviewing Nathan about the unconference:

Nathan Gilliatt, Net Savvy Executive

What is AnalyticsCamp?

AnalyticsCamp is a day for people who work in different analytics specialties to meet and learn from each other. We have great sessions lined up, but it's really about the people who show up and what they do with the day.

How did the idea come about?

Talk about AnalyticsCamp started after a panel on social media at Web Analytics Wednesday, when we realized that we had too many interesting topics for the quarterly meeting schedule. I had been to several unconferences, and the format seemed perfect for a day filled with all the analytics topics we wanted to talk about. We connected with a couple of the student clubs at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, and soon we had a perfect place for the event. With a full day and multiple classrooms, we can explore 30 topics and attract many more participants than we get at weeknight events.

Why the theme “bridging analytic silos”?

I've noticed closely related specialties that seem to be kept apart by a modifier--web analytics, email analytics, social media analytics, customer analytics... and that's just in marketing! They're chasing similar objectives and using similar methods, but the modifiers keep knowledge and practices trapped in analytics silos. By de-emphasizing the modifiers and focusing on analytics, we're creating an environment for people to learn from the other specialties and, in the process, meet interesting people they might not otherwise meet. Ah, okay that sounds very interesting. So who should attend AnalyticsCamp?

At this point, we're sold out for the first AnalyticsCamp, but we tried to get a good mix of different specialties. We have web analytics, email, social media, and direct marketing, but also some folks from what I call the deep end of the pool--enterprise business intelligence and predictive analytics, plus specialists in areas like data visualization. The goal was to have a good mix of specialties and a full range of experience levels, and I think we got that.

What is the unconference format? How does that work?

An unconference is a conference with less than the usual dose of organization. They're usually free, but the big deal is the agenda, which is determined by the participants when we start. For AnalyticsCamp, we approached some experts about planning to lead sessions, but in the unconference format, anyone who wants to lead a session can pitch their idea that morning. We work out the detailed schedule once we know who wants to lead and which sessions people want to join.

A good unconference is like the old Mike Myers "Coffee Talk" sketches ("talk amongst yourselves; I'll give you a topic"). Bring together a group of interesting people, and while it's impossible to predict exactly what they'll do with the day, there's a good chance it will be good. Considering the high level of interest in analytics, I expect a lot of good conversations to develop at AnalyticsCamp.

Given this first AnalyticsCamp is sold out, will there be more opportunities for interested people to participate in the future?

Oh, definitely. We're taking a lot of energy into this first event. If it goes well, it could easily become an annual event--we're not about to run out of topics. In between the big events, though, I hope that we can generate more interest for the regular meetings in the area, such as Web Analytics Wednesday. We're going to start a lot of topics at AnalyticsCamp; maybe someone will kick off a regular event for the broader analytics crowd.

The other way to spread the opportunity is out of town. We're going to start planning AnalyticsCamp DC as soon as this one is over, and a few people have asked about doing their own in other cities. I think it would be great to see AnalyticsCamps in more cities.

Okay, that sounds great! I'm looking forward to seeing the event evolve. Thank you very much.

My pleasure. Thank you.

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About Author

Alison Bolen

Editor of Blogs and Social Content

+Alison Bolen is an editor at SAS, where she writes and edits content about analytics and emerging topics. Since starting at SAS in 1999, Alison has edited print publications, Web sites, e-newsletters, customer success stories and blogs. She has a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from Ohio University and a master’s degree in technical writing from North Carolina State University.

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