Few would argue that the past few years in web analytics have been, well, intense. The emergence of Yahoo Web Analytics, multiple management shake-ups at WebTrends, Adobe’s acquisition of Omniture following Omniture’s acquisition of Visual Sciences, WebSideStory, Offermatica, Instadia, and TouchClarity, and the continued push into the Enterprise from Google Analytics. From where I sit we have seen more changes in the last 24 months than we had in the entire 12 years previous (my tenure in the sector) combined.
When I think about these changes, I find myself coming to the undeniable conclusion that our industry is undergoing a radical transformation. More companies than ever are paying attention to digital measurement, and despite my disbelief in Forrester’s numbers, an increasing number of these companies are forging a smart, focused digital measurement strategy. At the X Change, at Emetrics, and at Web Analytics Wednesday events around the world there is more and more evidence that this wonderful sector I call “home” is really starting to grow up.
And we’re just getting started.
If you pay close attention to the marketing you see from Omniture, WebTrends, Unica, Coremetrics, and the other “for fee” vendors you’ve surely noticed a dramatic change recently. Nobody is talking about web analytics anymore; the entire focus has become one of systems integration, multichannel data analysis, and cross-channel analytics.
All the sudden web analytics is starting to sound like, gasp, business and customer intelligence.
Since it’s late and since this post will be over-shadowed by the hype around Google Analytics releasing more “stuff” on Tuesday I’ll cut right to the chase: I believe that we are (finally) on the cusp of a profound revolution in web analytics and that the availability of third-generation web analytics technologies will finally get digital measurement the seat at the table we’ve been fighting to get for years.
Statistics, people … statistics and modeling, predictive analytics based on web data, true forecasting, and true analytical competition for the online channel. Yahoo’s use of confidence intervals when presenting demographic data and the application of statistical models in Google’s new “Analytics Intelligence” feature are just the beginning. As an industry it’s time to stop fearing math and embrace analytical sciences that have been around for longer than many of us have been alive. It’s time to stop grousing about how bad the data is and actually do something about it.
Do I have your attention? Good.
Thanks to the generosity of the kind folks at SAS I have a nicely formatted white paper that is now available for download titled “The Coming Revolution in Web Analytics.” Just so you can see if you might be interested here is the Executive Summary from the document:
“Forrester Research estimates the market for web analytics will be roughly US $431 million in the U.S. in 2009, growing at a rate of 17% between now and 2014. Gartner reports that the global market for analytics applications, performance management, and business intelligence solutions was US $8.7 billion in 2008—roughly 20 times the global investment in web analytics. Among their three top corporate initiatives, most companies are focusing their efforts online, expanding their digital efforts Internet to increase the organization’s presence in the least expensive, fastest growing channel.
Today, a majority of companies are dramatically under-invested in analyzing data flowing from digital channels. Even when business managers have committed money to measurement technology, they usually fail to apply commensurate resources and effort to make the technology work for their business. Instead, most organizations focus too much on generating reports and too little on producing true insights and recommendations, opting for what is easy, not for what is valuable to the business.
Analytics Demystified believes this situation is exacerbated by the inherent limitations found in first- and second-generation digital measurement and optimization solutions. Provided by a host of companies primarily focused on short-term gains in the digital realm, not long-term opportunities for the whole business and their customers. Historically these companies worked to differentiate themselves from traditional business and customer intelligence, focusing on the needs of digital marketers. Unfortunately, as the need for whole business analysis increases, many of these vendors are playing catch-up and forced to bolt-on data collection and processing technology as an afterthought.
The current state of digital analytics is untenable over time, and Analytics Demystified believes that companies that persist in treating online and offline as “separate and different” will begin to cede ground to competitors who are willing to invest in the creation and use of a strategic, whole-business data asset. These organizations are using third-generation digital analytics tools to effectively blur the lines between online and offline data—tools that bridge the gap between historical direct marketing and market research techniques and Internet generated data, affording their users unprecedented visibility into insights and opportunities.
This white paper describes the impending revolution in digital analytics, one that has the potential to change both the web analytics and business intelligence fields forever. We make the case for a new approach towards customer intelligence that leverages all available data, not just that data which is most convenient given the available tools. We make this case not because we believe there is anything wrong with today’s tools when used appropriately, but because we believe digital analytics should take a greater role in business decision making in the future.”
Since I pride myself on the quality of my readership I sincerely hope that each of you will download this document and take the time to read it. More importantly I’d love you to share it with your co-workers, friends, and followers on Twitter. I believe we are at a critical juncture in our practice’s history where the skills that have served us all along are not going to serve us for much longer, but I am always willing to admit that I’m wrong and more than anything I love a spirited debate.
Are you ready for the revolution?