I’m happy to announce that my world now includes a certificate in Digital Analytics from The University of British Columbia and the Digital Analytics Association. I’ve been working on this certification since the wintertime.
My interest in Digital Analytics started early in my career. Like many people who got a post secondary degree in Information Technology during the DotCom era, I started my career as an e-Commerce developer, decompiling java classes in order to add functionality to an E-store running on the Oracle e-Commerce platform. The store was called Art Star — not the one that exists now but this old one that the wayback machine can take you back to if you want to get a feel for the era. I was alway interested in the numbers and data.
I remember that my job was to hack the out-of-box functionality of the e-Commerce store and to add the functionality to buy the online art by cheque. “People don’t want to buy a $10,000 piece of online art on their credit card.”
Bullshit, I thought. I don’t think that’s why people don’t want buy online art. I doubt the ability to write a cheque will help.
During the DotCom boom you weren’t supposed to ask questions. I was supposed to just do my job, but this assumption, this hypothesis bugged me, especially on the stupid timeline that they had us trying to meet. I opened up my search engine. Altavista at the time. I typed in “Buy Art Online”, and couldn’t find Artstar.com until the 15th page. Hm.
I had a friend in Customer Service and called her up.
“Hey, do you know how much art we sell every week? Like, ballpark.”
She had the ability to run a report.
“Yesterday we sold $300, all posters.” she answered.
“Is that pretty standard? Day to day.”
“No, that was a good day.”
I thought for a second. I knew what salary I made, I guessed at what my team leader and Project Manager made, and counted up all of the people who were working at the company and determined that this place was going down.
“Do you know we’re on the 15th page of Altavista?” I told my manager. “How is anyone going to buy art if they can’t even find us.”
He brought this to his status meeting with the Business Analysts, and the Management team. My manager told me that it had caused a bit of a stir.
“Who said this???” The Senior Business Analyst said. “A developer? She should shut up, and leave the thinking to us, and do her friggin’ job.”
A month later, our company was laying off people. I volunteered to leave. Why? Because the numbers told me the story clearly. However we were staying afloat, we weren’t selling more than we were paying people. Three months later, people who had stayed hadn’t been paid. They were working for free. The DotCom bubble burst shortly after that — mainly because people were buying into an idea but not checking the numbers.
Fifteen years later, I am taking a stand in my career to look at the numbers and to help busineses make informed decisions, and I now have a piece of paper that helps to qualify me. I was a developer then, and I didn’t have a say, but now — I wish I could talk to that Senior Business Analyst to tell him “This is my friggin’ job now, so you shut up and see what the numbers say.”