Tag Archives: web analytics

Kaggle for Analytics Competitions – Feedback?

Kaggle is a platform for data prediction competitions. As per their wikipedia entry “This crowdsourcing approach relies on the fact that there are countless strategies that can be applied to any predictive modelling task and it is impossible to know at the outset which technique or analyst will be most effective.”

I reviewed a few competitions on Kaggle, and they seem fairly complex and perhaps a good fit for advanced statisticians or data modelers. However, Kaggle is fairly popular and gets a decent amount of traffic for niche site.

  1. Does anyone have feedback on their personal experiences using Kaggle?
  2. Have you ever recruited or solicited candidates from Kaggle, for analytics roles in offshore development centers or for offshore analytics practices of IT/Analytics firms?
  3. Have you ever used it for networking?

Drop a comment on this post if you have tried any of the three.

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Does Your Product Line Need A Blog And A Facebook Presence?

Google has a lot of official blogs. Here is the main one, and at the bottom, you can see links to several other blogs, including corporate, product and developer blogs. (The complete directory is available here. So does your company follow this trend and also host several blogs? And what value do these blogs actually provide.

I read this blog post on a large software company’s product line blog. That line is a specialized category with limited consumer interest. They wrote that in 2012, they got 50k page views and over 10k visitors.[ Note: this is a top level number and does not delve into much detail on accuracy, visitor segmentation etc] And this is a well maintained blog, with articles on product usage, updates from engineers and product managers and information on industry events.

Now compare that number with those for a product management blog, such as the one called Mind the Product. I am sure that a blog like this, that comes on top of google search results for “product management blogs” must get at least 5k page views a month. I know it’s like comparing apples and oranges, however, the benefits of any blog must be analyzed independently of other factors.

So here’s my point. For a niche product, it may not be cost-effective to only maintain a blog. Instead, an added social presence, such as on Facebook might be a far better mechanism. And incidentally, very few consumer tech. products have a presence on Facebook. So getting there might be a leader’s move.

Any challenges to shutting down your blog and starting a Facebook presence? A few come to mind.

1) Accessibility: If your audience is business users, they may not be comfortable surfing Facebook from work. And from home, they may use personal accounts, which may hide true audience demographics.

2) Search: Facebook search is good, but for general search terms, Google search is better

3) Privacy: You may not want to publish information about your followers, as your competitors could also be lurking there

In the end, your leadership team’s vision will decide how you approach social media, and how your product gets the benefits. But if you want to make a case for a Facebook presence for your products, do think about the above factors.

Web Product Manager Recruitment Ad – 5

On Feb 8th, Ebay posted a recruitment ad for a Director, Product Management in Bangalore.

The complete JD is available on the link above. In December 2012, they had hired Ramkumar Narayanan, VP Product Management, Yahoo!, as the GM for their India center, so their focus is shifting to Bangalore. Should be an exciting time to join them.

Location: Bangalore
Desired Qualification: Long list of experience, capabilities and personality traits listed in the ad
Desired Experience: Not mentioned

Here are some points to consider about the role and the firm:

  • This looks like a new, senior level role in their eBay India Center of Excellence.
  • The ad mentions the job title as Director, Product Management 1 – Tech. so it is definitely for someone with a strong product engineering background.
  • Networking skills and industry reputation will be the key to getting an interview for this role.
  • Based on data available on glassdoor.com and other internet sources, the typical salary for this role should be more than 45 lpa CTC. This would exclude RSU/Stock Grant/ESOPS or other bonuses. The ceiling could be a total package of Rs. 65-70 lakhs all inclusive for a very, very good candidate.
  • Roadmapping is a key requirement for this role, and hence someone with an MBA and many years of product management experience should be an ideal fit.
  • The role will involve building and grooming a team of product managers. Given that such roles typically go to people with an MS/MBA from a top school in the US and significant US work experience, the product managers hired later would likely have a similar profile.
  • You can expect ads for junior level product managers once this position is filled out.
  • India engineering, US senior management and India leadership team will be the key stakeholders.
  • This role is unlikely to carry P&L responsibility for a product line, but would probably focus more on building the product management competency in India.
  • Growth after this role could be to another organization in the e-commerce space or an IT consultancy or strategy firm. Or you could join a startup as a CEO, CXO etc.

Disclaimer: I have a lot of respect for Ebay.com. This post is only provided to prospective PMs to help them to interpret job ads for product managers

If you have applied/joined somewhere for a web PM role similar to this, then drop me a comment, and we can discuss the same.

The Product Manager and Analytics

AnalyticsWith analytics seen as the game changer both within the firm operations and support support functions as well as for sales and marketing, it is important that the PM get a good grasp of analytics as a subject and the associated tools. The Wikipedia entry for Analytics calls it “the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data.” Additionally, wikipedia entry for Google Analytics calls it “a service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about the visits to a website.”

It should be clear now that analytics comprises of statistics, reports and patterns in data generated from different sources. Additionally, in the software world, analytics is also used to identify features of interest, and in some cases, especially for web products and apps, analytics actually becomes an important module (to track feature and product usage) to be developed in the product.

So what does a product manager need to know about analytics? Well, first of all he should understand the type of analysis that is useful to clients, senior management and engineering teams (web analytics, customer segmentation, product performance reports, product usage reports or something else). So here’s a glimpse of the analysis that is useful:

  • Product performance/usage reports (how many people use the product, what segmentation is possible etc)
  • Product sales reports (customer profiles, segmentation, geographies etc)
  • Website usage reports (if its e-commerce, then products looked at, purchased etc, for other sites the browsing patterns, exit pages etc)
  • Website experiments (A/B tests, multivariate testing and so on)
  • Customer surveys and forum post analysis (to identify features of interest, trouble areas etc

Something that is clear here is that all this analysis must be performed periodically, at least once a quarter and must be an important input in future product planning. And this also means that product managers must a) gain expertise in statistical analysis and b) build a good rapport with the analysts or analytics team.

So how does one learn about these different analytics domains?

Here’s one suggested route.

  1. Start with a book or online tutorial on statistics and learn the fundamentals from that
  2. Download some free statistical software such as pspp (or use MS Excel) and go through the some hands on exercises available on the net there
  3. Add Google Analytics tracking code to your personal website or blog and start viewing the reports available. Then read the entire GA help documentation.
  4. Read some good books on website design to increase your knowledge of experiments on website usage
  5. Learn SQL, a vital tool for querying databases and getting aggregate results
  6. Finally, read articles, books and tutorials on Business Intelligence and Dashboards

The “resources” section of the blog has links to various useful software, tutorials and books. You can use them as a reference.

If you spend “An Hour A Day” on these every weekday, it will take you a good 3-4 months to get to the final part. After completing these, you should be in a position to talk meaningfully to the analytics teams, create useful performance reports from raw data, and support your feature specifications using live data.

All this will definitely turn you into a Data Driven Product Manager, which is an immensely vital skill for product management today.

Note: There is a strong relation between Big Data and Analytics, however, for most part it is not relevant unless you are either designing the big data infrastructure or you already have user access to the infrastructure.

In a future post, I will summarize the connection between product managers and analytics, given the 4 types of product managers in India.