Jacques Warren @ TDWI

Those of you interested in where web analytics is headed might check out the series of posts Jacques Warren in doing from TDWI (The Data Warehousing Institute) conference.  He’s in for a pound – an exhausting 6 days of high order brain-stuffing, much of it very technical in nature.

I believe most web analysts, if they didn’t come from DW / BI in the first place, would benefit tremendously from the kind of exposure Jacques is receiving at TDWI.  There is a larger scope sitting out there that WA fits into, and the DW / BI world has been around a lot longer.  Those folks have all the arrows in their backs already, and there is a lot to learn from them.

For example, the extent you believe what you see in web analytics reports actually happened, or whether you understand it is often an approximation of what happened, more like a model.  At least from a Marketing / Behavior standpoint.  A dose of reality like Jacques received can put this in perspective.

The very next question on the table is how do we get WA data into BI systems?  The answer, I believe, is Events.  There is really no point in stuffing page views and visits into a data warehouse; not enough value and won’t mean much to the broader Optimization picture. 

What the WA folks will have to do is decide what constitutes a significant Event (which could be a series of smaller actions) and then figure out how to mark that Event with a customer ID and get it into the warehouse. 

Some web analytics applications can already track Events (example), so that’s not the issue.  The question, as always, is what are you going to do with the Event?  Otherwise, it’s not worth tracking.  What’s needed is a Strategy for using high value Events first.

Otherwise, we’ll just end up with that many more junk reports.

At the same time, I think the more exciting prospect than what BI brings to WA is what web analysts can bring to BI, which continues to suffer from a focus on the technology instead of what they can do for the business.  While many WA folks understand the need to annotate and evangelize their work, many BI folks don’t see “being proactive” as part of their role.

I have to tell you, if you think WA and Optimizing web sites is exciting, wait until you get your hands on the entire business and start optimizing it.  Your first A/B test with a call center script, for exampleFulfillment testingPackaging.  The list is endless.

That experience, my friends, is pure adrenaline.

I know some of you out there are already wearing both the WA and BI hats.  Got any killer Business Optimization stories (that you can tell?)

2 thoughts on “Jacques Warren @ TDWI

  1. Hi Jim,

    Excellent points. We had a keynote presentation this morning by Wayne Eckerson (the dashboard luminary) who was basically telling the technical people to stop dreaming about the self-service BI myth. Can’t escape working closely with those business people! I’ll ask around tomorrow to BI people (analysts, that is) about their evangilisation problems. I must admit I was a little surprised by what you say, since companies have been spending huge amounts of money on data warehouses and analytics systems. Eckerson did point out though that their latest research showed BI was still touching only 24% of their audience in organisations.

    Yeah! I’d LOVE to hear from our brothers and sisters out there who are involved in both sides. We NEED their inputs!

  2. Yes, they are spending the money but this is a question of Culture, especially in Marketing / Service (not so much in Engineering / Manufacturing).

    Fortunately, we somehow got web analytics launched with a firm, outward-facing business orientation and most WA folks try to play it that way, though they still can run into problems getting people to listen!

    BI, on the other hand, has always been somewhat isolated and dominated by “scientist” personalities where the analytical work itself is the reward. This means the business application of their work then lacks a champion, there’s no “driver” into the business.

    This “annotate and evangelize” culture in WA is at least partially responsible for the business success of WA.

    Longer term, I still believe in the “Center of Excellence” concept where BI, WA, and any other top shelf analytical talent work together and share analysis for the greater good. This, coupled with a cross-functional Business SWAT team (evangelize / implement), can do amazing things.

    This is the best way to drive “Whole Business” Optimization I have seen.

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