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Top tips from the Data Geeks on Conference Etiquette in the US!



We were lucky to recently attend the Google Marketing Partner Summit, in San Francisco.


It was our first time to the US and our first time to a networking event of this magnitude! We were super excited. It was a wonderful experience, there were 600 partners from over 63 countries across the globe, we learnt a lot and networked with a lot of industry experts on the various different trending topics of the web analytics world!


We thought it might be cool to share some of our musings from our trip…


Learnings & Tips

  • Don’t worry about the language barrier
    • We found “Data” was a common unifying bond across participants as even though we come from different countries and backgrounds – we all speak the same language!


  • Don’t be shy when it comes to talking to an industry expert…Don’t be intimidated, it’s always good to network!
    • If you are too shy to ask a question during a session, you can approach the speaker in private at the end and still have it clarified! Also do try to listen to some of the other questions that are being asked as well – there are a ton of people facing the same technical issues as you are so you will highly benefit from this!


  • Get ready to Hustle!
    • What’s your personal pitch? Have a clear crisp description about yourself and your role ready! This is highly useful as you will find yourself giving a lot of introductions about yourself, your company and your role in the US!


  • Talk Solutions & Impact – not Product
    • Once you’ve introduced yourself, you can change gear and start talking about your company. Breaking down silos is a good approach when you are explaining yourself and what your firm does. Don’t talk products/tools, talk solutions & impact first!


  • Scope out the “competition”
    • Talk to Partners from the rest of the world. This helps you get to understand the ecosystem there, learn from their experiences – especially those from more “developed” Data markets
    • Consider how you can take learnings from other partners and see how that can scale to your daily work – an example of this was hearing Partners share some of their approaches which gave us inspiration and was a great foundation piece for us to reflect on when developing future solutions


  • Value your time
    • If you feel you are part of a networking meeting where there is not much value, gently excuse yourself, take full control of the situation. Same is true for the actual conference sessions…which leads us to the next tips!


  • At the conference itself :
    • Divide & Conquer: If you have a conference buddy, split up the day’s activities and work out who is going to what, and check in. If you don’t have a buddy, make a friend and offer to co-share notes on Google Docs!


    • Attend all Demo Booth sessions : as it’s pretty cool as you get to interact 1:1 with the product managers & engineers & understand a lot of the product updates that are going to be released soon!


    • Talk to product managers about the tools you used so you can provide feedback and gain an understanding on what’s on the roadmap / product vision (The Google team actually inserts this back into their product roadmap and you get to see feature releases for these.. It might take a while but it does get implemented if its a common concern!)


Notes on US Culture

  • Everyone is super friendly and generally greets you with pleasantries whenever you buy your food or get into a lyft , etc. Relak lah. Smile 🙂
  • There is huge diversity in culture and ideas which creates an environment where ideas are freely shared and innovation is highly-regarded and that is reflected in how advanced our US counterparts are in activating their data insights to improve client’s business. Take advantage of the opportunity to debate ideas with different mindsets!
  • Coffee in the US is not all that great 😀 but Starbucks was awesome !
  • SF is really really really cold ! Go to Uniqlo beforehand and buy some thermals!
  • Portion sizes are huuuuugeeeeee! Be careful when you order 😀
  • Don’t forget to tip when you eat out in US! (There are “tipping” apps / calculators you can download beforehand).


We hope these tips help. If anyone has any other great hacks, experiences to share on how they navigate Conferencing we’d love to hear – please post below!!!


Stay tuned for our next blog where we will cover the GMP Summit 2018 in detail!

Madhu Bakthavatsalam and Khairul Anwar – Sparkline Superheroes! 

Wrangling Data For Success – An Analyst’s View By Kevin Ho, Sparkline

Data has a wide range of applications and ideas can be generated by many people. Yet, in most organisations, data practitioners only comprise a small proportion of employees who may not have regular interactions with other business functions.


Today, without basic knowledge of data, business users find it difficult to understand data analysts. They often feel that the pace of data projects cannot match the fast pace of the business. Due to communication breakdowns or mismatch in expectations, the original business problem may not be solved in a satisfactory manner. Data analysts also become frustrated because they find it challenging to communicate their results with colleagues who do not understand basic data concepts.


Such issues prevent companies from rapidly utilising data to deliver superior outcomes and adapt to changing conditions.

Wouldn’t it be highly beneficial for ANY employee, if they could unlock the potential of such powerful strategies and tools?

What if you could disperse or embed data expertise throughout the various functions of an organisation?

By educating employees, changing how tools are used and allowing employees to take on additional responsibilities, companies can place themselves in a good position to flourish in the years to come:


  1. Education – Because Knowledge is Power!


Continuous learning has never been more relevant, especially in today’s knowledge economy. Teaching the core concepts of data science, and some primers on using data tools will allow employees to become more self-sufficient. A good practice would be to create online courses or tutorials for employees. Alternatively, many vendors or consultancies (such as our own) have already created their own online educational academies or programs – these can also help improve the proficiency of teams at a reasonable cost.

As teams progress, there will certainly be some members who learn faster than the rest – these are opportunities for them to mentor others! Working on problems in pairs can also be another constructive way to accelerate learning and consolidate knowledge.

As teams get a better grasp of data concepts, the quality of communication should increase – business requirements can be more precisely translated into technical requirements and ideas can be exchanged freely without confusion or misunderstanding. Frustration should decrease – with understanding comes an appreciation of how difficult certain requests may be. Employees will change the way they interact with those responsible for end products of data science processes.


  1. Tools – Plug and Play, just bring business knowledge!


Data analytics teams should also be tasked to create more front-end tools that can be easily used by employees not familiar with coding. Keeping data tools confined within data teams may also not be optimal since no other team can access them. Data teams also end up shouldering the extra burden of being gatekeepers to these tools, should there be any request from other departments.

If most inquiries from other departments are relatively basic requests that can be completed with some rudimentary understanding of data science concepts, then it may be better to open up access to these data tools.


  1. Roles – Data is a People Capability


Once skills and tools have been introduced  to an organisation’s employees, roles and responsibilities can be modified, and access levels to relevant datasets can be granted. Over time, as more team members also pick up basic coding skills, even employees from non-data teams can apply new knowledge to solve day-to-day problems within departments quickly.

The focus of data teams can then be shifted from helping teams with analysis and data-related tasks to building tools that enable others to do their data work better and faster.

With this scalable approach, progress can be made on a higher number of projects as compared to the previous approach where data science was a scarce resource.

Data is here to stay – companies would do well to ensure that employees are data-savvy and are able to work more efficiently and effectively with it.


Data analytics is a field that belongs to everyone and with some effort, employees can become “data people” within their own roles or teams. By doing so, new heights of innovation and productivity will be reached.

By day, Kevin is a proud Data Person at Sparkline, as a Data Analyst, he helps businesses across Asia Pacific grow by creating actionable analysis; by night, he’s a passionate life-long learner, running his own data science experiments, tinkering with new ideas.

Want to become a “Data Person” too? Check out Analytics Academy by Sparkline, and sign up to become a business ready digital data analyst in 20 hours.



How Sparkline visualises Conversion Trends with BigQuery


You have so much data at your fingertips.  Hundreds of customers actions on your site, masses of data to wade through, and so much to understand beyond just acquisition.  This was the issue faced by our Airline client when they asked us to help them better use their data to understand and visualise conversion trends.

Using BigQuery our client had access to an interactive dashboard that could track a typical 100 customers’ full journey from when they visited the site.  More importantly it allowed our airline client to start to understand how customers were dropping off before converting.  With this tool we were able to dive deeper by date, device and marketing channels.

This was important for our client as it helped them to optimise conversions.  What it really allowed them to do was assess in a practical and quick way user’s engagement beyond acquisition to know where to improve quality and help decision making across teams.

And in an industry that relies on fast moving segments, it allowed our client to solve problems fast. This was mainly through quick access to where users drop off and use different segments to come up with hypotheses for testing, especially when launching a new site.  Report time was reduced from 3 hours manual work to 0 hours increasing efficiency ten fold. This toll ultimately helped the airline’s teams locate problem areas faster and then run deeper analyses to identify root causes. Now that’s the kind of data you want to get your hands on.

15 hours saved with Sparkline’s Innovative Consulting


How tired are you of preparing dashboards, manually pushing through reams of data, and trying to get buy in from those who are making the decisions based on your analysis?  You’re not alone. It was these moments of everyday fail, that led Sparkline to help a leading FMCG brand to change the way they were working and use cloud based solutions to better optimise their e-commerce

The goal was threefold. We wanted the FMCG to drive decision- making across e-commerce brands and geographies, reduce dashboard preparation time and make analysis more efficient through automation using Google Cloud Platform and Data Studio

How did we do that?  The Sparkline way of course. Our team of specialists used  scripts to automatically extract data from the data files, transform them into the appropriate data structure, and load the processed data into a BigQuery warehouse. The extracted data was then visualised in a Data Studio aligned to business objectives of the visualisation.


What happens when you take a fairly manual and time pushed company and revolutionise the way they use their data?  Preparation time was reduce from 16 hours to under 1 hour. (Read that again until it sinks in) 15 hours saved. Real time data is now available for analysis and manual data analysis has all but disappeared.  Why is this important? The less manual a process, the less error prone it is, making the data analysis more accurate. And the best thing? This solution is completely scalable.

Sparkline listens, finds the solutions and makes sure that the effect has an impact on your business.


Launch your digital analyst career with Sparkline Analytics Academy

Digital analysts are in hot demand. With the need for data scientists growing at around three times that for statisticians and BI analysts and with forty percent of global companies relying on the analytics expertise of an individual employee to make business decisions, now is the time to gain the skills you need to launch your career in this exploding field.

How do you choose the right training for such an important role? A quick Google search of “analyst upskill” reveals a frenzied multitude of training options, each of them crammed with guarantees to “Maximise efficiency!”, “Increase capability!”, and “Boost confidence!”. Each shiny option promises the same result: to teach you how to get things done.

With so many choices that look so similar, it can be hard to choose the right course for you.

At Sparkine, we know that getting things done comes down to making insights actionable. Practically anyone can acquire the right information or extract the right data; at the same time, true value lies only in what you do with those insights. What problems you solve, what practical applications you discover, and what actions you take: this is what sets the successful analyst and business apart from the rest.

Years of providing actionable insights to our clients across diverse regions and verticals has led us at Sparkline to realise that delivering genuine results demands more than basic analysis abilities. You need more than programming skills, more than technological expertise, and even more than business knowledge to be good at your job. To truly achieve results, you need brilliant soft skills, with empathy, a critical thinking mindset, and a core desire to empower not only though insight, but through action.

We have developed our Analytics Academy to train up the next generation of data analysts to fill the anticipated 100,000+ person analytic talent shortage through the year 2020. We teach students to achieve actionable results and give them the tools to support large organisations with their online marketing and consumer data.

Sparkline’s training goes beyond programming languages to deliver and develop capabilities in business-ready practices, soft skills, and empathy that will propel data-driven action across organisations. These are the exact skills that are most needed by businesses today.

A recent study by Accenture concluded that one of the biggest challenges for marketing leaders is not finding or hiring analytic talent; rather it is finding the right ways to move the mountains of data into insights and then into action. “Data scientists are technicians who are very good at managing and manipulating data,” says Peter Fader, the Frances and Pei-Yuan Chia Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and author of Customer Centricity: Focus on the Right Customers for Strategic Advantage. “But data science is about looking for patterns, coming up with hypotheses, testing them, and acting on the results.”

Even more important than cultivating this skill set, though, is cultivating it right. That’s why we built our Analytics Academy with a focus on providing training for future analysts by analysts with years of experience on the job. In collaboration with Google, we tested our curriculum across four hundred students from a multitude of diverse backgrounds including chemical engineering, psychology, computer science, and more. After completing Sparkline’s Analytics Academy program, all students were offered full-time positions in digital practices, commanding higher than average salaries across the board.

Such success isn’t a surprise to us. Sparkline’s Analytics Academy empowers each of its learners from the get-go and we expect our course graduates to walk away from the academy with the skills they need to land the jobs they want. The design of our Analytics Academy allows you to take control of your learning in a way that best fits your individual ambitions, whether it’s by following a comprehensive recommended program or selecting pick-and-mix modules to sharpen your focus. Moreover, the Analytics Academy allows you to practice your newly developed skills in the real world immediately, as often as you like, through online learning with offline exercises.  

Perhaps best of all: the Analytics Academy requires absolutely no previous experience. In line with Sparkline’s mission to empower people and businesses through democratising data science, our programmes focus on people, not products, helping everyone to unlock the power of analytics regardless of their prior experience or lack thereof.

If you’re ready to fast track your career then it’s time to get the skills you need and land your dream job. Learn everything you need to know about digital analytics plus gain the business-ready practices, soft skills, and empathy that will make you an invaluable business asset with the Sparkline Analytics Academy.