Top Takeaways from JOIN 2018

JOIN 2018, Looker’s annual conference, made its mark on San Francisco last week. The three day conference took over the Palace of the Fine Arts theater and brought a range of fantastic presenters, attendees, and companies together.

We had a great time chatting with some amazing people at our booth, and listening to insightful presentations in the sessions. If you saw us there, then I hope you said hi! If you weren’t able to attend this time around, then we’re happy to share a glimpse into what it was like:



We spent some time going to different sessions, and as a result, we’re happy to share a few themes that we saw talked about in the sessions.

Democratizing data and creating a data-driven culture is on everyone’s minds

A main takeaway that we noticed across several sessions was how everyone was really focused on building a data-driven culture and democratizing data. Creating a data-driven culture and strategy is something we believe is very important, so it was very cool to hear others sharing how they’ve made it happen in their own organizations. There were some excellent examples, approaches, and analyses across organizations of all types, from Strava to the Girl Scouts.

A fun example of getting into the process of actually moving your organization to be more data-driven came in the Girl Scouts’ session. Michele Whitney, VP of Enterprise Data and Reporting, shared a tip on making change management go more smoothly: give your new initiative a “dad joke” type name. As she was driving the upgrade in reporting for the Girl Scouts, she called it “S’more Data”. People aren’t as intimidated of change when it has a silly name!

Some more practical tips included instilling a data champion in each department, rather than centralizing your data people in one team. This helps to diffuse a data mindset across the organization. Providing plenty of trainings and holding office hours were also brought up several times.

Don’t conflate “being data-driven” with just gathering some data

Another great point that the Looker team raised in their session “From Tactical to Strategic: Building a Data Culture” was not to confuse being data-driven with simply having some data. In other words, to be data-driven, you need to have data that’s actionable and provides insight that help you make a smart decision. If you only have high level vanity metrics like pageviews, you won’t be able to take intelligent actions based on those metrics, so the value isn’t there. That’s not being data-driven.

Don’t get us wrong – we are all about gathering data. In fact, capturing complete user behavior data is a core tenet of the Heap product. However, it’s important to have a plan to go along with your data. We typically advise customers to start with an end goal in mind, such as product adoption for example, and build funnels that represent customer journeys in a meaningful way. Check out how Freshworks was able to improve feature adoption by more than 20% after some tweaking the discoverability of a feature.

Hope to see you next time!

That’s all for JOIN 2018. We hope to see you there next year. If you can’t wait that long to see us, register for one of our upcoming webinars!