As noted in my last blog, I was quite taken by Clifford Lyon’s presentation, “Why We Test: Informed Design at CBS Interactive”, at the recent IE Predictive Analytics Summit in Chicago. A collateral benefit of Lyon’s informative discussion of using experiments or A/B testing to improve user website experience was exposure to the research of Microsoft’s Ronny Kohavi.

The point of departure for the accessible paper “Online Experimentation at Microsoft” co-authored by Kohavi was the 2005 statement from a memo by Microsoft’s then CTO, Ray Ozzie that the “web is fundamentally a self-service environment, and it is critical to design websites and product ‘landing pages’ with sophisticated closed-loop measurement and feedback systems.” On the heels of that dictum, Kohavi and colleagues conceptualized the Experimentation Platform (ExP) at Microsoft that would enable product teams to run controlled experiments.

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