A company Analytics Day can work wonders for your analytics team, even (or perhaps especially) if they are global and dispersed across geographies. You can learn from the best, be inspired to think of new procedures and solutions, and make brand new contacts in your own company.
I’ve been fortunate enough to run two Global Analytics Days: one at my previous company and one at my current company, JLL. In both cases an Analytics Day proved to be a great way of not just bringing analysts together, but also visibly demonstrating your company’s commitment to learning and sharing all things analytics, while allowing colleagues of all levels to be directly involved.
Here are my ten top tips to consider for a successful event.
- Get practice and help. You might be planning to run your Analytics Day as a one-man or one-woman show to highlight your value to your own boss, your company and its internal data community. With colleagues to take part in organizing the event, however, you have a team available to test the technology, include some practice handovers and work together to put together the best schedule possible.
- Work across the time zones. Where time zones are concerned you may not be able to please everyone, but it’s important to make sure that you (a) try and cater for as many as possible in your key areas, and (b) ensure there’s a contingency for those that can’t make the core event. One example: shoot for an afternoon in EMEA covering a morning in AMER, with content recorded for those outside of these areas.
- Use external speakers. Use your networks to see if one or two well-known community or industry names would be interested in giving a presentation at your Analytics Day. They will be an even better draw if they can publicize something exciting that they are involved with at the moment. Once you have these names, be sure to place them in the schedule whereas many people as possible are likely to be able to attend or listen in. Also, be reasonable: don’t expect brand new content or an hour-long keynote since they are appearing as a favor to you.
- Internal speakers are even more important. The event will need to be built around the opportunity for your own analysts to take part, so ensure that they have the opportunity to do so in a way that’s convenient for them. Put out requests many weeks in advance, prioritise first-time speakers or those less well known, and be sure to have a diverse range of speakers. Also, have at least two different lengths for speaker slots. I suggest a 25-minute main talk or a ten-minute lightning talk.
- Include some fun. What constitutes a fun element is up to you. You could run a Kahoot-style quiz over a lunch break or an Analytics Day Bingo competition throughout the day to keep people’s interest levels high. Changing up the content also gives people an opportunity to duck out if they have a work assignment that won’t wait.
- Keep internal comms open throughout the event. Do you have an internal Teams, Slack, Yammer, or equivalent channel for internal communications? Make sure this is active throughout the day and do everything you can to encourage conversation to flow. You and your team may need to work on this up front if conversation is a little quiet to start with, but you can post reminders and notices of every new session or activity, which then can lead on to conversations and thoughts throughout the day.
- Get senior management support. Can you get one of your Directors above you to say one or two words at the start of the event to lend his or her backing? It’s important that managers give analysts the green light to attend the event, but it’s likely that attendees will feel more comfortable giving up their time if it’s endorsed at a more senior level. A great way to involve management is to offer them the option to share some scheduled strategy updates or department news.
- Keep exactly to schedule. When your attendees have cherry-picked what they would like to attend, the last thing they want is to sign in punctually to find they’ve missed ten minutes of a talk. Don’t forget that you may have people logging in and out constantly throughout the day, especially if you are running over several time zones, so you don’t want to start the next session early just because an earlier session was cut short. Consider building in buffers of five to ten minutes to leave room for questions or manage overruns.
- Add variety. Talks and presentations will be the bread and butter of your day, but they don’t have to be its entirety. In addition to quizzes for lunchtime breaks, consider introducing a panel/Q&A session. If you have a hot topic to cover, you could set up a panel discussion or fireside chat and encourage questions and participation via your platform’s chat or your internal Teams, Slack, or Yammer. You also could use some time to introduce a dataset and put time aside for a hackathon.
- SWAG. If budget and logistics allow, consider company SWAG for attendees. It’s a great way to show appreciation to your analysts for being part of the event, and may even act as an incentive for folks to step up for future events.
With these ten considerations you should be in position for a successful Analytics Day at your company. But how will you know? It’s always great to quantify success if you can. Send out a review survey after the event to see what you could have done more of, ought to have done less of, and generally to gain feedback on the overall day.
You may also be able to see who or how many people streamed into each individual session, or see how many views there are of each recorded video after the event. Take time to review and analyze this feedback, and you’ll come back with an even stronger event in the future.