Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Analytics Camp NC

I noticed a lot of tweeting last weekend with hashtags of sas and acampnc. I managed to figure-out that there was some kind of informal, analytics event in North Carolina named Analytics Camp NC. I took the time this week to find out more. Seems it was a useful event, and an interesting format too.

Angela Hall (she of the SAS-BI blog and latterly a Technical Architect at SAS) has offered two very informative posts: Designing Dashboards Successfully (answering the question "What should all dashboards have to make them useful and successful?") and Content Analytics "All Abouts" on text analytics. Thanks Angela. Other follow-up articles are listed on the home page of the Analytics Camp web site. Social media is a growing area of organisations' marketing plans, and it's clear that there's a lot of growing interest in the area of social media analytics, i.e. tracking readers, followers, fans, and (most importantly) buyers.

The Analytics Camp web site offers further information about the objectives and organisation of the event:

Analytics are a hot topic, and the evening events don't have enough time to dig in.

Analytics are divided by functional silos, but their work is starting to overlap.

Three main objectives:

  • Learn from each other
  • Meet people with similar interests
  • Especially people working in the other analytics silos
How does it work?

Free admission, low overhead

Local event intended to attract primarily local folks

Unconference format to create a participatory environment

Agenda designed to attract different categories of analytics pros

Career track for students and others interested in in analytics careers
It seems there's an intention to hold further events in Dallas and Washington (the North Carolina event was the first), but dates haven't been set. If you'd like to help or you'd like an Analytics Camp in your area, you're encouraged to contact Nathan Gilliatt or @AnalyticsCamp.

If that sounds a little loose and informal, you're right! Analytics Camp NC was an unconference combined with BarCamp, formats that I've heard of before but never experienced. Needless to say, there are wikipedia entries for unconference and BarCamp, and it all seems a bit "West Coast" to me (hey, I'm just a humble, conservative Brit!). Jacqueline Perez and David Thomas (social media manager for SAS) both wrote about their first-time unconference experiences; both seem to have approached it with healthy scepticism and left it with admiration, and willing to attend and participate more next time. If we had a similar event in the UK I'd be keen to try these new event formats.

And it wasn't just the "tech" that was noteworthy: Gregg Morris wrote "SAS donated what was, without doubt, the best lunch at any event I’ve ever attended. I’ve been lucky enough to eat at all kinds of technology events over the years, sponsored by the likes of Microsoft, Intel, Apple ,etc. and not one of them came close to this."

I noticed that the Analytics Camp organiser, Nathan Gilliatt, is visiting London in the near future. I might try to catch-up with him to learn more about Analytics Camp (Analytics Camp London anybody?).