Web Analytics professionals vs. product experts

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wissle.jpgI got housted last week for a recent post on this blog, a situation I sincerely regret.
While driving home from the Dutch mountains, I was thinking about the terms used in this constructive critism and more specifically the term “WebTrends experts”.

As my team’s been heavily involved with the product for over 3 years now (it first landed on my desk over 6 years ago), I was wondering whether I’d use such an expression to describe my team.
I just came to the conclusion that the only person I’d really call “WebTrends experts” would be the guys (& gals, I hope😉 actually developing the software and in charge of it’s related strategy, in the US and in Europe. The Eric Butlers of this world, Jason P., Nick S., Lucas D., Conrad B. and their fine respective teams, flying around and helping our clients out in their times of specific needs, together with their qualitative partners.
I would certainly admit that Jason Widup holds an extensive knowledge of what WebTrends can actually do, following his interesting post on the Yahoo User Groups last week. I just regret that he failed to mention certain WIN partners outside the US (as the Web is global and we are not all in the US) and somewhat wildly made use of the usergroup to sell his product and related services. I call it “vendre sa salade”. Not really in the spirit of the User Group, if I might add but hey, can’t blame you for trying😉

Thus, yes, they’re the guys who know their product, the experts. My team can only come close to what is possible, ideally discussing with the WebTrends developpers and strategists about feedback from the market in order to push the limits of what is possible today and building together, in a resilient way, what will be needed in the future. 
When needed, we can always call Adam, David, Joe and discuss possibilities in order to move one, push the solution one step further, get things done.

For those who are still reading my lengthy blabering (Yes, Lucas, I love to blog), you might actully wonder how I would describe my team then.
I decided upon WebAnalytics professional.
After all what we do is set-up products, reportings, connections between applications (I’ve decided to call that plumbing by the way) that can measure what is going on with Web based applications, assure that the client can make trustable decisions based on the findings and we do this as a profession. Thus WebAnalytics professionals.

As Avinash already mentioned quite often, it’s 10% product, 90% people. And to be quite frank, not every product fits every client’s needs. There are even solutions that would not fit a client today as they’re simply not ready but that’s another debate. In the light of the products that we support today, amongst which WebTrends & Google Analytics, the later will sometimes do the trick and the former will not at all, for multiple reasons.
So, within this line of thought, we are cought up in a not one solution fits all situation.

And that’s where we actually step in, making the difference between the product experts (whether they’re WebTrends, GA, HBX/WSS, Omniture, CoreMetrics, NetTracker, ClickTracks, Instadia, etc).  
A Web Analytics professional, knows and understands his client’s strategy, discusses it, shares the metrics & discusses the findings, the possible solutions, in the light of the local/continental or worldwide market.

Web analytics is certainly not about pushing one solution or another, it’s not about selling licenses and cashing in on the maintenance. That’s a logic for the ones only focussing on the short term and to be quite frank, there are still a lot of them out there!

That’s why I’ve decided that my team, us Web Analytics professionals, had to fit into an Interactive Agency, where design, strategy, IT and reporting come together in order to make best use of new, interactive technologies as these channels are highly measurable.
It stems naturally out of simple questionings about a companies’ strategy and creative solutions in order to support this strategy, where decisions about such solutions are based on measurable facts. 

New questions arise every day as technology seems to move forward, faster and faster. New sparkels of discussions erupt constantly, as lately about the measurement of Web 2.0., but one must never forget that all we do has to make sense in the light of our client’s respective strategy. One solution fits all is something my critical mind – I admit – will never settle for.
I will however absolutely settle with collaboration, together with these experts, in order to make sure that their solutions do actually fit what and how we would want them to fit, in the client’s perpective. Isn’t that what the current evolution is all about: giving the power to the users of your products?

Please feel free to share your thoughts. Comments welcome underneath or directly. 

4 Responses to “Web Analytics professionals vs. product experts”

  1. Avinash Kaushik Says:

    (Which post did you get “housted” over? I read some of the older ones and they all seem to be “ok”.🙂 )

    I have to add to your comment on the product and people mix that I don’t think it really even matters what tool you use. You can use webtrends and hbx and omniture or coremetrics (I’ll skip my favourite clicktracks :)). Only 0.001% of the companies in the world will really be stymied becuase they have webtrends and omniture might do thing abc better or that omniture can’t do thing xyz and so they need hbx etc.

    I want to underscore your point on where you exist, a “agency”. I think that is what makes OX2 unique. You can go and take a hollistic approach to a client, cover all the angles (not just “web analytics”) and from a unique perspective and add real value to a client (vs simply dumping a tool on them and saying bye bye three days after launch).

    I am positive you would do just as good a job with Google Analytics as you would with WebTrends, becuase your smarts come not from what the tool brings (though maybe 5% may be that) but what you and your agency brings to the table.

    Hopefully your clients feel the same way.🙂

  2. Jacques Warren Says:

    “I just regret that he failed to mention certain WIN partners outside the US (as the Web is global and we are not all in the US)”
    Yep! As non-US WIN partners, we would’ve liked it too😉.

    In our case, we use the term “Web Intelligence”, since Web Analytics has been now too much associated with the technical solutions/products.

  3. Jason Widup Says:

    Ok, ok – I must apologize for not mentioned the partners. And yes, I was slapped on the wrist for trying to promote what I and my team can do. Can you blame me though? Most people don’t think of the vendor’s consulting teams as strategic marketers or business partners. Most vendor consulting organizations are pigeon-holed as people who implement the tool. I’ve tried to build and position my team to almost be tool-agnostic (obviously we never could be – but this is just to help frame what we’re doing) and really focus on how web analytics should be used in our customer’s organizations.

    I do appreciate the kind words about my knowledge of the product – thanks!

  4. Aurélie Pols Says:

    Hi Jason,

    Thanks for posting a comment. I was starting to wonder if you were actually paying attention at what was happening on the other side of the ocean😉 let alone your partners.

    Believe me, I fully understand the gap between installing a product – or box moving – and actually using it. Our little Business Unit spends a lot of time fixing problems from previous installs, we’re actually not responsible for, before getting down to the real stuff which is defining what data the client actually needs.
    There’s a parabole about coffee plantation that Avinash mentions in his blog and his presentation at Google that I appreciate a lot and feel that Web Analytics can be seen ideally as indeed manure. You have to get your hands into the stuff in order to pull interesting things out.

    Now, I can’t but help wonder why this box moving situation actually exists and if the position of your team is actually a good solution to this problem. No one could contest the fact that your team knows the product the best. After all, you’ve got first hand insights on how the MarketingLab actually works. Something that can’t be said for a lot of partners I talk to here in Europe but also on your continent. I must admit that I find this a bit frustrating and wonder if I’m the only one…

    On the other hand, the market has matured a lot over the past few years and historical partners exist. The tribute can be made to WebTrends for having certified some people but the rules applied for being actually a “certified” partner are rather flexible regarding this said pre-requisite, wouldn’t you say?

    Last but not least, I don’t believe that you can be tool-agnostic because simply you don’t use the other tools in real, live circumstances and because every client is different. You know as well as I do that you can go through trainings and batteries of tests – like we do to define whether a Web Analytics product is going to be part of our portfolio – but new questions always arise when working for a client. I learn more and more each and every day and so does my European Web Analytics team.

    In short, I don’t believe that a vendor can actually be tool-agnostic, sorry. Reminds me of the famous Chinese Walls during the Internet boom and bust. Meryll Lynch also said that they seperated the information regarding helping their clients do the IPO and selling the shares to their customers. Didn’t real work out, did it?
    The reason also that I have the problem with this position is that WebTrends, to my knowledge, does not develop content management systems, emailing systems or actually support their clients in their online strategy. As an Interactive Agency we do. We hold all these different competences that are brought together and confirmed by the figures we render through the Web Analytics tool. It prooves, with tangible data whether we did (or not) a good job.

    Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore WebTrends, the product.
    I’m behind the strategy a thousand percent and also the idea of trying to close the gap between the box moving and the actual use of the tool, (accompanying the client, listing to his needs and finding solutions).
    What I find really sad is that no distinction is made between those partners who really know what they’re doing, in the long term view (because it’s not only about selling licenses, it’s also about renewal of them, the next year) and those that are there for a quick buck.
    It’s difficult to identify, I’ll give you that but when you’ve got a dedicated business unit within an Interactive Agency, a partner which has been through hell and back for you, the least you can do is share the knowledge so that both parties grow, in the light of a win-win situation.

    Last but not least: there aren’t many of us out there, are there? Web Analytics professionals I mean. I’m keeping an eye on universities, specialised schools etc but it’s not there yet. We’re pushing, evangelising.
    Another reason for treating your partners in a correct manner.

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