So here’s some news. After spending the first 36 years of my life in the UK, and the past six working for Foviance (formerly WebAbacus) in London, in October I (and my family) will be off to Seattle for a few years.
The reason? A great job opportunity with MSN, as Director of Customer Intelligence. Effectively, I’ll be the senior web analytics guy for MSN worldwide, responsible for the rollout of web analytics (based upon the DeepMetrix platform that Microsoft acquired recently) within MSN’s AdCenter product, as well as spear-heading a big internal project to learn a lot more about how people use the whole MSN network (which, don’t forget, spans everything from MSN.com to Hotmail to Messenger and Spaces) in order to monetise the network more effectively.
In truth, the prospect of moving to Seattle is the least attractive part – my wife and I love living in London, and are pretty ‘European’ in our inclinations (Mrs Thomas is half Italian). Moving to the US has never been a particular aspiration for us. But the opportunity is just too great – this has got to be one of the biggest web analytics jobs in the world (I can only think of two bigger ones).
And it will be really interesting to live somewhere else, particularly America, which looks so weird from the outside (at least to Europeans). I’m really looking forward to understanding the country better from within. There’s a parallel with Microsoft itself here – for my entire career Microsoft has been such a big – and inscrutable – presence. Its power in the IT industry echo’s America’s on the world stage, and attracts interest and criticism (both justified and unjustified) as a result. I am a bit nervous about going back to a big company (7 years at IBM put me off behemoths at the beginning of my career) but several ex-IBM colleagues at Microsoft assure me it’s a very different kind of place.
Hence, in any case, the reason for this blog. I’ll be endeavouring to distil some of the insights about the state of web analytics (without descending into too many tedious discussions of the merits of log files vs tags) on these pages, whilst adding in some local colour about life in the Pacific Northwest. Who knows – I might even wind up with Neal Stephenson as a neighbour…