It’s pretty interesting to see the amount of time decision makers take to pick an Optimization tool. They do their homework and compare prices, services, features, support hours and vacillate between full service vs self service and so on. Their intentions are good, since such an event can require a great deal of investment of money, time and resources. And if you are a current decision maker and ready to get started with optimization, let me be the first to tell you none of it matters. This is why: It’s Jan 1st and you sign a contract with a luxurious gym– you have it set in your mind to get slim and fit for your new year’s resolution– bought a new pair of running shoes, head band, ipod and hired a personal trainer for $125 an hour. March rolls by and your workout program and new year’s resolution slowly fade from your daily routine. It is impossible to cancel your membership and you slowly start to realize how having access to a luxurious gym, buying new running shoes, and investing in a trainer didn’t do much good, if you don’t do one simple thing: show up. And this ladies and gentlemen, is the plight of optimization.
So what exactly is the problem? Why isn’t optimization taking place consistently throughout the year? Is it because you didn’t instill a testing culture, maybe it wasn’t properly identified who owns optimization or maybe all of your interesting findings were not shared across the entire business properly? Maybe, but it could be one of those reasons just as likely as none of those reasons. And I could probably get on a very long, boring tirade about what CEOs need to do today to properly optimize their website– to keep it relevant, up-to-date and money making– but fortunately someone has already explained what the problem is. The explanation starts with a critique by Dustin Curtis of AA.com (American Airlines) I won’t go into details about the critique as you can view it in its entirety here as Mr. Curits explains the CEO of AA.com should be “ashamed” of himself. This is great take a look: Click Here
After reviewing the article, I think most of us could understand where Mr. Curtis is coming from– after all, he is a designer. Interestingly enough, Mr. Curtis gets a reply! The reply is from an AA.com employee who you will later find out has to be addressed as Mr. X. Here is Mr. X’s response from Mr. Curtis’s original critique: Click Here
I won’t write about the outcome because I don’t want to ruin the effect – you can find out here: Click Here
Later, there was even more talk; a gentleman by the name of Dennis Van Staalduinen created and shared a powerpoint presentation located here:
Click Here. What is even more interesting are the comments left on this post. “I can confirm that it’s not just American corporate culture that’s the problem. Sadly, it seems to affect a great many corporations around the globe.” , “My impression is that as a general rule, it’s the business dinosaurs who were around in the 50’s that haven’t figured out that it’s no longer the 50’s! (Though in all honesty, many of them have at least moved on to thinking it’s the 80’s…which was almost as bad.)”
What is the solution? Well, Mr. Curtis does call out the CEO of American Airlines and holds him 100% accountable- I think this is true, but what is a CEO to do?
Few things come to mind:
1: I know nothing about Netflix other than they are in the movie rental business, but subscription-based. And if I was going to make a big impact in turning a “dinosaur” company around into a up-to-date company I would strongly suggest reviewing Netflix’s credo– Click Here: as I said before I know nothing about them or what it’s like to work for them, but they seem very result-oriented rather than process-oriented and definitely offer a lot of fantastic ideas.
2: Omniture’s Brent Dykes makes a great point as he talks about investing in people rather than tools. I could not agree more: Click Here (Referencing his 2nd post as it’s easier to go from 2 to 1) Even Netflix confirms that the expense of high turnover equates not only monetary loss but a loss in execution– and with the loss of execution, a company is run out of business.
In summary- Before you go shopping for an optimization tool, ask yourself what your priorities are, and be honest with yourself, have you structured your company so testing is even possible? In the case of AA.com it doesn’t look like they have the structure to do any type of testing (I could be wrong). Is it because they are a big company? No, big companies test– just look at Amazon, Facebook, and Google, they run optimization all the time and it is what makes them continuously relevant and successful.
– Brion Hickey