I had a phone interview today with a guy who tossed an interesting question my way. He asked me what I thought the greatest technology to come along in the last five years was for e-commerce. My response was that technologies are just tools, and that it's what you do with them that counts.
I think mining data and understanding your customers is the thing that's most useful in e-commerce. Understanding behavior and where you're putting up road blocks, that's the stuff that fascinates me. Even though I think we got too far in the weeds at times, that's one of the biggest things that I took away from ICOM, that everything can be measured, and the measurements give you a lot of insight. You just have to figure out which insight matters.
As it turns out, many of these data issues translate well into other areas, including community ad-revenue driven sites like mine. It's funny how the things you thought were important on the Internet change over time. In 2000, when I started CoasterBuzz, I wanted to have more eyeballs, like everyone else. By the end of 2001, I just wanted to make enough money to cover the expenses, and the number of eyes mattered a whole lot less.
That line of thinking has served me well ever since. I've worked in environments where the opposite extremes were part of the culture, either that audience measurement didn't matter, or that it mattered so much that the ROI gained was less than the effort to measure.
I've spent a lot of my "self-employment" time enriching my technical skills, but sometimes I wonder if there are more business oriented things I should spend time learning. I continue to believe that people in my line of work are generally more effective if they have some business sense about them. I want to be one of those peoples.