Tuesday, September 30, 2014

So What's The Context?

Taking words out of context is one of those distortions which never fails to amuse. Whether it be entertainment, politics, or history, everything seems vulnerable to removing a few choice words. And context isn’t just reserved to just the world of words, photography is fair game as well, as this example illustrates:



So why is context important for events and data collection? The answer is that an event, perhaps a customer visits a certain page on your web site, is rarely clear in a vacuum. The information surrounding the event provides a perspective through which the event makes sense and can be accurately understood.

In this example, perhaps the customer is visiting a product page for lawnmowers and has done so a few times in the last week. The result of understanding the context is that we can make better decisions. A marketer might like to offer the customer a discount to turn their repeated browsing into a purchase.

Every event which the Celebrus platform collects and processes has a context added to it. What does this mean in practice? Well actually it’s really simple. First we identify the core attributes for an event, for a completed transaction that might be: the currency, the total purchase value, the set of items in the basket. Then we supplement this with a much larger set of context attributes which complete the picture.

For example, a few of the context attributes include the customer email address, where in the world they are browsing from, and what kind of device are they browsing on.  This combination of the key (primary) attributes, and the context attributes, defines the event. And every event can be fed in real time into your data warehouse.

This understanding of context becomes even more critical when we talk about path analysis. Path analysis allows us to chart a voyage over time for some set of attributes. For example, a simple path analysis allows us to view the set of pages a customer visited before they left to join a competitor. Understanding pages might be very useful to identify potential churn. This ability to gather really meaningful business information is why feeding data into our partner products like Teradata Aster is one of the biggest growth areas in our product.

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