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Expert Interview Series: Mark Hansen of Megalytic on Building Trust with Data Analytics

Mark Hansen (@markdhansen) is the Founder and CEO of Megalytic, where he is inventing the next generation of analytics reporting tools. We recently asked Mark for his insight on how data is improving business relationships today and get his advice on best practices for using data analytics. Here’s what he had to say:

How has data collection and analytics evolved since you started your career?

Obviously, there have been huge technical advances in our ability to store and manipulate large volumes of data (i.e., Big Data). But the bigger change is that analytics has gone mainstream. It used to be a sideline activity that employed a few statisticians. Today, analytics is part of everybody’s job.

In 2011, the movie Moneyball dramatized how analytics transformed baseball, and we can all relate to how big a change that has been. But the same change is happening in all businesses, from advertising to finance, to manufacturing and everything in between.

What excites you about the potential for data to grow businesses?

Trust. Data enables trust, which is the foundation of business relationships. I’m excited by how this transforms the relationship between service businesses and their customers. For example, products like Megalytic enable marketers to easily share digital marketing performance data with their clients.

Clients can see for themselves how well campaigns are performing. This leads to more honest conversations, better decisions, better results, and more trust. When marketers start sharing their analytics data with their customers, their campaigns improve, their customers are happier, and business grows.

How does your approach to Big Data analytics differ from your competitors? What sets you apart?

We focus on a particular domain – Digital Marketing. Megalytic makes it easy for people who work in Digital Marketing to create awesome analytics reports for their clients. Because we’ve focused in that domain, we’ve been able to make Megalytic extremely intuitive for Digital Marketers to use.

Contrast us with a product like Tableau. Now, Tableau is a fabulous product. But their domain is very general – Data Visualization. It’s not targeted at a particular domain. As a result, Tableau has a very abstract user interface that is not intuitive. People need weeks of training to learn how to use it properly. Megalytic is not like that. Digital Marketers can figure it out in about 10 minutes.

What are the most common frustrations or pain points your clients are coming to you with? How do you help them?

Time. Lack of time for reporting. Marketers want to create great reports for their clients. But, it takes them too much time – cutting and pasting, massaging data, formatting, putting it all in report format. It’s very labor intensive and pulls talented people away from their main job for hours and hours every month.

Megalytic automates a great deal of the reporting process. Most marketers can create a few templates in Megalytic and use them to handle all their reporting needs in a fraction of the time it takes to build them in Excel or some other tool.

What are the most common mistakes you see businesses make in regards to how they manage, analyze and share their data?

The biggest mistake I see is vendors being afraid to share performance data openly and honestly with clients. We sometimes see agencies trying to hide poor performance numbers and highlight only the good results. Ten years ago, maybe you could get away with that, but not today.

Clients are smarter now. They will see right through efforts to manipulate data. Your best policy is to share the numbers – good and bad – openly. The bad numbers present an opportunity for joint problem solving with the client. That approach builds trust and leads to more business.

Why are analytics and reporting so important to business today? How do they help businesses connect with their customers?

I’ve mentioned trust in several places, and that’s certainly a big part of it. But, analytics and reporting also provide opportunities for the most productive conversations you will have with your customers – at least in the Digital Marketing world.

Discussing the numbers with a customer invites them to be a part of the problem-solving process. It gets them engaged, and it helps them to open up to you about the challenges they are facing. Reporting creates a regular opportunity for deeply engaging conversations. These are the types of conversations that keep your customers happy and also lead to more business.

What IT trends and innovations are you following today? Why do they interest you?

This may seem a little bit out of left field, but I’d have to say that the continued development of browser technology, and particularly the JavaScript programming language captures my interest. Because of the increasing power of JavaScript, we are starting to see Big Data being analyzed directly in the browser. This is partly what makes tools like Megalytic possible. We use a JavaScript library named D3.js to handle the visualizations. And, that’s really just the tip of the iceberg.

Soon, we’ll be caching fairly large datasets in the browser. This makes it possible to have super-fast and responsive user interfaces that enable a marketer to slice and dice data in real time, across a wide variety of sources.

Just as Megalytic is simplifying analytics, Syncsort is focused on simplifying Big Data integration to make data from diverse data sources available to Big Data analytics platforms. In, “Syncsort DMX-h: Simplifying Big Data Integration with a Modern Data Architecture,” you can learn how DMX-h can eliminate the various complexities that are plaguing the IT organization by providing access all enterprise data, including mainframe, integrates the data to achieve the fastest path from raw data to insight, and enables organizations to comply with security, governance and management protocols.

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