In my last post, Governance or Garbage, I laid out some core items that should be a part of any Data Governance plan. Today, I would like to take some time to dig into another key component of governance, Data Management. Not data management once you have captured the data into your analytics tool of choice, but rather the management of the data or the meta data on the digital assets.
Most of the time when I sit down with a clients site their data and meta information that they want to track looks like this.
I bet that this looks familiar to you. The key items that you want to track and measure are in that pile somewhere. Can you find it? Or are you tracking everything you see in hopes that afterwards you will be able to sift through the bits and bytes and find what it is that is really important to your business?
When you pull reports in your search for insights you want to see the data lined up in nice rows so it is easier to read and digest, but most folks do not put that same effort in organizing the data before they collect it. Take some time to work with IT and see if you can organize the data on the site. Some CMS systems are taking a first step at getting your part of the way there, but most of the time you will need to spend the time upfront to work through all the items and get them sorted out in a way that is meaningful to you and your team.
Chances are your IT developers do not know (or care) what an s_prop or an eVar is. And why should they? Why make their work more complicated and confusing for the next developer that comes along and has to work on the code. Why not set a product id to something that makes sense for anyone who looks at the code to something like yourcompanynamedataobject.productId ? Then you can tailor your analytics code or TMS system to pull that data object into their data library. Several TMS systems have this feature, but you can see a nice write up about how this works in Satellite here.
Yes, it takes a lot of time, energy, and money to properly setup a solid data management plan and structure on your digital assets. Yes, you will get push back from IT at first. Yes, when you are done you will have created a very nice, clean, and easier to update data layer that is able to be consumed by any tool or script in a much more reliable and stable method that is more resistant to site layout changes. Or you can try and sort through that pile of crap…er data on your site to get those pieces of data you really need to help you build your data castle.
So go… get an handle on your data before you capture it and get to building your Digital Camelot today.