Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Moving Analytics Forward, Collectively

It’s a shame that Brandt Dainow couldn’t have been a bit more copasetic regarding his views on the Web Analytics Association’s standard definitions because he does make a few salient points. But his words and my unpublished retort forced me to think about what each of us can do to move the Web analytics industry forward. We are, after all, a relatively nascent industry and we will shape our own destiny, whether we like it or not.

Yet, this presents a problem: Web analytics is inherently an introverted exercise. Individuals within their respective organizations can apply insight, rigor and analysis to data in hopes of improving the realm over which they control. We may share ideas or tactics for individuals to take back to their own data sets and poke and prod with hopes of finding efficiencies and improvements. Sure, you can pay a hired gun to implement process, develop strategy or create sexy dashboards, but ultimately they are helping analytics practitioners to improve individual companies. Vendors facilitate advancement by acting in the best interests of their customers and shareholders to develop and deliver innovative products. But again, the application of these solutions is up to the individual organizations.

Where we break free from the shackles of analytics solitude is in our network and thriving community of evangelical data savants. Findings from the most recent WAA Member survey show that 41% of members surveyed consider themselves champions for Web analytics. We champions sing the praises of Web analytics. We identify problems and attempt to provide solutions. We talk to each other to commiserate about the shortfalls with technologies and lack of comprehension by the rest of the world. We network and blog [and tweet] in hopes that the persistent din of our ramblings captures an audience. But we accomplish this collectively.

So, instead of detracting from Web analytics with grievances and diatribes, here’s how I encourage those vested in Web analytics to move forward:

Expand your network. If you haven’t noticed it yet, Web analytics people are social and welcoming creatures. In my experience nearly every person that I’ve ever reached out to in our industry is responsive and genuine. And there’s lots of opportunity to meet new people. Attend a Web Analytics Wednesday event, sign-up for an eMetrics conference, trade big ideas at XChange or tune into the conversation on the Yahoo! User Group. These are just a few of the many resources available today in Web analytics.

Give back to the community. So this is where my thoughts for this post originated. The WAA, despite its shortfalls, is an extraordinary organization. Comprised of nearly 100% volunteers, active participants are pushing the industry forward by tackling monumental tasks such as attempting to establish a common vernacular for Web analytics with their standard definitions. Further, the recently published Outlook 2009 findings provide some fantastic insight to where we’re headed and what’s in store. This information would not be available without committed individuals giving back to the community. And by no means is the WAA the only method of contribution…host an event, attend one…share a revelation…just spread the good vibe of what you do.

Communicate with conviction. A recurring challenge that I’ve heard over the past few weeks is our need to elevate awareness of Web analytics to senior management. This challenge isn’t new; but the urgency is reaching a crescendo. Thirty-two percent of respondents to the WAA Outlook survey listed this as the second greatest hurdle they will face in 2009. Here is where I think Dainow was onto something…by creating computing standards…will we finally be accepted? Perhaps, but the process of gaining consensus on definitions is a necessary step in the progression. In the interim, communicating Web analytics in tangible terms is paramount. This will mean different things to unique organizations, but I offer replacing complexity with accountability as a starting point. Communicate in terms that resonate with management by avoiding the esoteric. Then relay your successes to your fellow champions.

Thus, in the spirit of moving Web analytics forward, I offered these few thoughts. More will follow, yet I am just one individual in our collective environment.

Are you a champion for Web analytics? If so, what are you doing about it?

1 comment:

kipimo said...

very interesting ! and quite refreshing !
WA needs professionals like your : it is not science, nor art but the gathering of lot of aspects, with common sense and openess...

have a very good 2009 year

Philippe Mochamps

Kipimo (Internet Business consulting services)