From the Trenches

Analytics Everywhere – What’s Next?

Mike Sweeney | November 6, 2008

For the millions of us watching CNN on election night and the 6 months preceding it, the segment that was most impressive had nothing to with the 18 talking heads on set.  It was John King’s mastery of the touch screen map.  Call him the new Czar of the Telestrator (my apologies to Mike Fratello), call him the Master of the Map, call him whatever you want…his almost error-free execution of those segments was damn impressive.  Of course, the show he put on would not have been possible without the existence of the analytics data surrounding the performance.

This offers further proof that we live in a analytics and data-obsessed society.  In sports, we love stats like earned run average and quarterback rating even if none of us can figure out where those numbers come from.  In politics, we love knowing that in Somerset County, 31.8% of white males under the age of 39 who claim Cheerios as their favorite cereal voted for Obama on election night.  In business, we love our business intelligence.  We love our decision analysis tools.  We love our web analytics.

Businesses that use some form of analytics, or data collection and reporting tools, are at a distinct advantage over those that do not.  There is no disputing that.  So why do so many businesses, both large and small, run away from putting analytics tools in place?

  • Businesses think putting any type of analytics/reporting tools in place will be expensive.  It’s not, at least not if you take baby steps.
  • Businesses think putting analytics/reporting tools in place will be complicated.  It’s not, as long as you don’t make it more complicated than it has to be.
  • Businesses are afraid that these tools may expose flaws or weaknesses in the business model or sales and marketing process that they don’t want to expose.

That last reason is plain silly.  Isn’t the idea to continually improve your business?  If a tool can tell you that your sales process is less efficient than 6 months ago, don’t you want to know that?  If a tool can tell you that website visitors from site X turn into more revenue than visitors from site Y, don’t you want to know that?

I can guarantee one thing.  Businesses that survive and flourish in this economic environment and beyond will embrace the data they already possess, search for ways to collect more data, and spend time and money using that data to make better business decisions.

In the meantime, I am anxiously awaiting my wall-size touch-screen website analytics monitor.  Now that would be cool.  Maybe not John King cool, but cool nonetheless.


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