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Simo Ahava at SearchStars 2019

Get to know Simo Ahava, Partner and co-founder at 8-bit-sheep

Simo Ahava, one of the speakers at SearchStars, October 10. Simo is a Partner and Co Founder at 8 bit sheep. We got the opportunity to get to know him a little better – Enyoj!

My first question to you is, could you tell me a bit more about what you do at work? What is the highlight of your working day and what kind of projects excites you the most? 

In my work, I help people and organizations build better quality data pipelines that produce meaningful information for fuelling business decisions. In practice, this means working with developers to compile data collection modules into websites, apps, and other connected devices, discussing with operational and strategic teams on how to formulate business questions and how to find the data that can help answer them, and collecting and analyzing data from users that actually use these sites and apps. 

That’s all part of the grind, however. 

What excites me the most is getting my hands dirty with huge datasets, and figuring out the ways to build queries that uncover hidden patterns therein. Another thing that’s an infinite source of inspiration for me is to be able to work as a developer with native apps and websites, and write code that does the data collection and handling myself. 

Nevertheless, the highlight of my every single working day is when I get to go and pick up my son from kindergarten. There’s nothing in my professional life that comes even close to that feeling. 

When and why did you decide to start working in digital marketing? 

Officially, my first job in digital marketing (one that I was paid for) was when I entered as an SEO manager in a digital marketing agency in 2013. However, I have worked as a volunteer, building websites and analytics solutions for NGOs and non-profit organizations from as early as 2004. 

My first contact with SEO came as a teenager in 1997/1998, when I built my first website for the deceased rapper Notorious B.I.G. Due to some imaginative content scraping, my site shot to the Top 3 of Yahoo search for the query “Notorious B.I.G.”, which is when I realized the power of being recognized by search algorithms. 

What do you think is the most important thing for new businesses to start off with when it comes to digital marketing? 

This is easy: the most important thing is to come together as an organization. The biggest mistake businesses, especially new ones, do, is build silos and hide behind them. Why do they do it? Because it’s the easy way out. That way they can have separate budgets and separate goals, and they can always point their fingers at other silos when something breaks. 

Any organization that wants sustained success must learn to communicate internally. They need to get in the habit of encouraging multi-disciplinary teams and projects that span across multiple silos / departments of the organization. As a developer, I refuse to work on marketing analytics if there is not someone from marketing in our daily and weekly meetings. Similarly, I refuse to build a data collection schematic with a marketing team if the developer team (who will end up implementing said spec) is not present in the discussion as well. 

How do you keep up to speed on everything that is happening in digital? 

I’m very bad at keeping up, but I have a handful of people in Twitter whom I follow for news and new releases. The Measure Slack ( community is also spectacularly useful for staying up-to-date with all things data and measuring. 

At October 10 we will see you speaking at SearchStars, what can the audience expect from your speech? 

My talk will be about communication and customization – two things that any organization that wants to use data in any meaningful manner can’t do without. I’ll share practical ideas for how to improve the communication structures, and how to utilize these structures to best customise the data collection mechanisms running on the site/app. 

And since this is a search marketing conference, I’ll make sure to include some useful, practical ideas for how to customize data collection to give better data for search analytics in particular. 

Thanks for your time, see you soon! 

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