Pierre DeBois is the founder of Gary, Ind.-based Zimana, a small business digital analytics consultancy. His goal is to help companies optimize their campaigns and operations through a strategic commitment to advanced digital analytics and social media strategy.

The data gathered from these analytics efforts can help companies reveal relationships between specific customer personas and help them drive effective marketing strategy, he explained.

When it comes to strategy, DeBois is a strong proponent of developing a specific strategy that is based on every company’s own digital measurement tools.

"We're in a world now where analytics is one of the best ways of growing your business. We have great examples out there of businesses that are learning how to manage their marketing through analytics — and that won't abate any time soon," he explained.

DeBois contends the most important aspect of digital analytics is to understand the quality of traffic that you're receiving.

"It's really not just about volume. It's about nuance. It's about understanding the right segment that matches your objectives, that really matches your company in terms of media branding or, in terms of the target, understanding the target you have for your product or service," he said.

In a world of big data, companies still thrive on small-data insights that illuminate the heart of their relationships with their customers, he explained.

You’ll find a lot of insights from DeBois on Twitter. His account was named among the top 100 accounts for big data by Big Data Republic/PeerIndex #BigData100 in 2013 and by CEOWorld Magazine in 2014.

Zimana’s work has included service for the Treasurer’s Office of the city of Chicago, business incubator Blue1647, and CMSWire's inaugural DXSummit. He returns to the DX Summit this Nov. 14 through 16 at the Radisson Blu Aqua hotel in Chicago to share more insights on the growing role of advanced analytics in all levels of business.

Mastering Analytics

Walter: What is the message you want to deliver at DX Summit?

DeBois: A just released Gartner report shows advanced analytics will account for 40 percent of business intelligence investments by 2020. That means that businesses have to consider how to get to the next step in their analysis. We are going to cover a few of those next steps as they related to analytics at the DX Summit. Google Analytics is good pathway for advanced analytics, and there are other tools, like R programming, that are open sourced and very popular.

Walter: Why did you start Zimana?

DeBois: Zimana’s founding was very accidental. I originally wanted to work with small businesses that needed help with their financial decisions, but discovered that most businesses seek financial help too late to implement the advice.

So while rethinking choices back in 2007, I learned of Google Analytics while working for a government contractor firm in Huntsville, Ala. Not only was that my first taste of web analytics, it also showed me how much analytics could create a dialogue about marketing and budget earlier in a business’ life cycle. That plus a burgeoning investment trend in websites from small businesses create a great environment to launch Zimana. It’s been great and fun, and the response so far has been super positive.

Learning Opportunities

Walter: How do you keep your software stack from being overloaded given so many choices?

DeBois: Good question. I think deciding your core metrics and what data source feeds those metrics help to frame your tech stack. It reveals where you are now, and can indicate what should be added to achieve your strategy goals for the future. Maintaining a software stack does introduce challenges, but it seems many of the challenges are departmental in nature. Selecting a stack that permits marketers to leverage their analysis capabilities without being mired in technical concerns is the necessary advantage for being innovative and establishing competitive advantage.

Walter: Why is marketing technology such a major area of focus right now?

DeBois: Agile marketing is a big driver of analytic improvements at the moment. It consists of planned media, some programmatic protocols and quick response. So programmatic advertising is being examined.

At the same time, you have companies examining open source options. These tools can create an analytic stack that can help companies better manage data across varied sources and containing varied quality. At a conference recently, I learned about Neo4j, a database with a node arrangement of data that allows users to discover relationships and explore advanced analytics. These sort of tools handle programmatic needs for marketers without requiring developer knowledge. They also lead to better personalization that improves the customer experience.

Walter: What is your role as the Small Business Trends book editor?

DeBois: I’ve been reviewing business books since 2011, and found it a great way to learn from other people on their viewpoints on technology and business. It was also a terrific way of being helpful to authors. The site is an award winning site, and it conducts book awards that recognizes authors from the community. I enjoy seeing authors receiving a nod from other fellow professionals and business owners. It shows appreciation for the knowledge shared.

Walter: What do you do to recharge?

DeBois: Sleep when possible ... which can be pretty little most of the time.

In all seriousness, I try to keep up with my close friends and their families for events that are important to them. I haven’t had as much time to relax as I’d like to over the past several years, and for the most part, my business has been my time. But over the past year I am learning how to connect with friends in ways that are meaningful.