October is a significant month for many. Fall festivities are in full swing, the holidays are around the corner, and your favorite football team is on the edge of greatness (but are they really?). However, this October is very significant for a couple reasons:
- We are officially less than a year away from Google Analytics 4 (GA4) being the only Google Analytics platform actively collecting data. (If you are unsure where to start or you don’t know what this means for your organization, I highly recommend reaching out to InfoTrust.)
- Harvesting crops across the midwest is in full swing!
If these two reasons above also make this October significant to you, then it is likely that you and I have similar backgrounds. If October is significant for only one of the reasons above, howdy.
My journey from my central Iowa family farm to consulting clients on digital analytics and GA4 may not be something you run into every day, but it is actually more closely aligned than one may think.
So what are some of the similarities between farming and analytics and how do they transfer over? I am glad you ask:
Planning and Preparation
To start, the strategizing and planning of harvest happens well in advance of the actual harvesting of the crops. The decisions that happen during the planning stages greatly affect the timeline moving forward. From deciding what crops/variety to plant, when to plant it, and which field to plant it in, to determining the tools, resources, and equipment necessary to complete the job, everything must happen in an orderly and timebound fashion.
The strategizing and planning of a GA4 migration project and the data collection model is very similar to the planning that is necessary for harvesting. It is important to determine the necessary KPIs that need to be captured for reporting and decision making purposes. It is also equally important to assess the possible risks if the timeline is missed or a decision is delayed. From there, the necessary resources and tools can be put into place to ensure that the project stays in order and on time.
The strategizing and planning skills that I developed while working on my family’s farm prepared me to help clients migrate from Universal Analytics to GA4, from thinking about what data collection method works for which set-ups to identifying key project timelines to ensure the completion of the project is on time and within budget. With that said, even the best plans don’t plan for all the unknown and uncontrollable aspects. Which brings us to my next point.
Perspective and Perseverance
In the life of farming, especially around harvest, one thing that seems to always be true is that what can go wrong, will go wrong (especially when you least expect it), from breakdowns and delays to unexpected rains and early winters. If it is not one, it always seems to be the other in some way, shape, or form. While it might not be a problem that is in your control or that you were planning for, growing up on a farm has taught me to always be searching for solutions and try to look at problems from a different perspective. You might just find the solution that has not been thought of.
As many organizations have migrated to GA4, there has been no shortage of challenges, opportunities, and bugs that have presented themselves in various ways. While it is easy to assume the issue lies within the product, it might also be an opportunity to better understand what is causing the issue and learn how to fix the issue in the future. This is not always the most fun but the sense of accomplishment that comes from finding a solution will be well worth it.
It isn’t about when challenges will arise for farming and GA4, but rather the response to those challenges and the mindset you have towards them. Taking a step back from the situation to gain perspective allows you to adapt and persevere to the circumstances and ensure the plan and strategy stays intact.
One of my favorite things about harvesting is being able to see the fruits of the labor. Watching the crops go from standing in a field to being put in the grain bins is a feeling that never gets old. Being able to be proud of the long days and all the work that has been accomplished is something that is hard to put into words, especially when you are surrounded by friends and family.
The same is true for the many GA4 migration projects. Being able to see all of the planning, meetings, long hours, and dedication to the project results in data flowing to GA4 and unlocking new, exciting features through the platform. Put simply, there is a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that is felt. The celebration with clients and colleagues cultivates teamwork and camaraderie, as well as a good sigh of relief.
For me, choosing InfoTrust and digital analytics has allowed me to continue developing the skills I love and started to develop while being a fourth generation farmer, but this time I traded in the real-life crops for the GA4 harvest instead.