Following a very thoughtful comment of Avinash in my previous post, I’ve decided to answer in a new post.
Avinash, even on a Friday afternoon, your comments remain pertinent and I quite agree on most aspects.
We can’t imagine where we’ll be within 10 years time as very little people saw things like ICQ, Google or even blogs coming. Fact remains, and you know that as well as I do, that the mathematical and statistical rules that determine success or failure of initiatives have not changed that much over time. It’s always a matter of how much money you’ve spent and how much you gain in order to determine return on investment and how to define who you’re going to target with your communication in order to assure this return.I think it’s more access to and use of this information that will have to change and even though Web Analytics products suppliers are racing for new features faster and faster, it’s clear that the ones that will win will be the ones open to their partners and listening to what the clients actually need.
Technologically speaking, I’ve witnessed the datawarehouse initiatives in a large swiss life insurance company and CRM initiatives within a major german bank and I can’t say I’ve been convinced. The deployment was too long, the solution not flexible enough and I won’t even get started on real usage within both companies.
That’s why my hope in true data based decision making today lies partially within Web Analytics. I say partially because the focus is data based decision making and should include other channels. But you have to start somewhere and remain flexible enough to rethink, restructure and push the information according to needs. So, yes absolutely, we have to remain critical towards these vendors telling them what we use and don’t use and what we’d like to see added, following feedback from the field. It’s only within the dialogue of the vendors and people like us, serving end customers, that evolution will be possible. How far we’ll go and how fast will depend upon their ability to listen, the client’s ability to learn and our ability to challenge.
With respect to the Web Analytics naming convention, it’s already outdated as it goes beyond Inter/intra/extranets. But you need naming conventions in order to unite people. Now, wether companies on the long term are going to divide their business analysts’ responsabilities according to channel or product or as you propose experience, I’m not sure. I do know that indeed, we need to broaden the picture and incorporate the information gathered from the web into other channels. So integration is my short/medium term objective, as long as companies don’t shift their view of data collection and usage as it’s still often an issue of human resources, for me at least, with most of my clients.
I remember this picture painted by the CEO, when I was working for Deutsche Bank, where he explained the CRM project as “being able to detect all touch points of a customer with the company in real time. If a client stepped into an agency and then road home on his bike and connected to the site, to call the call-center afterwards, the nice lady with the head phones would be able to see all that. Except for the bike part of course”, he laughed. I didn’t buy it at the time and still rarely see this in reality. I’m not sure the hassle is actually worth the effort as it will depend on the underlying business questions, today and in the future. Linking call-center information to web related data makes sense for self-service sites today and many examples already exist. Customer experience will clearly be the issue for the future and companies need to shift their product focuss towards customer focus, while assuring a viable business model. Easily said I know and it’s a long road ahead.In the mean time, let’s try to make management aware of data based decision making and serve them the data the best way we can so that they understand it and take action, while assuring that the technological solution put forward is flexible enough to support longer term initiatives. Instead of heavy top down solutions, let’s try it the other way around with Web Analytics to ensure this adoption by management.
In conclusion I think that you get it right when you say it’s 10% product and 90% people (personnaly I consider my professional services as part of the 90% and not the 10% as you state in your presentation ;-)) as long as your product is not blocking you. You’re using ClickTracks, I’m into WebTrends and Google Analytics and open to WSS or even Omniture, as long as the support is there and the long term strategy healthy in order to continue to build upon the chosen solution.