Looking at the pros and cons of housing Web analytics in the finance department.
My last column focused on where analytics should live within an organization, primarily looking at IT versus marketing. I made the case that analytics must be more closely tied to the business/marketing side to be actionable and to truly drive change, but there must be solid collaboration with the technical side as well.
The column happened to publish on the second day of Jim Sterne's Emetrics conference, at which I spoke at a few sessions. A number of people pulled me aside and discussed their take on where analytics should live and shared some other things people had been discussing throughout the week.
Analytics reporting into finance rather than marketing or IT is one interesting trend. There are a lot of good reasons this could make sense, but a number of things to watch out for as well. No matter where analytics ultimately lives, it must be fully integrated into a number of groups within the company.
Based on these discussions and past experience leading many analytics and optimization engagements, I put together a list of some pros and cons for having analytics report into the finance department.
Benefits of Analytics Reporting to Finance
Potential Issues With Analytics Reporting to Finance
Yes, there needs to be strong integration with finance (and many other groups), but optimization and analytics must work together. And there's a huge risk of analysis turning into just reporting if it's in finance and too far removed from the people who can make the day-to-day changes on the site.
Ideally, you can create hooks in all three groups and others so you have an integrated approach where everyone is held accountable for their actions (or lack thereof). Ultimately, though, analytics and optimization should be within the marketing group's Web team. Regular meetings between those responsible within each group to share opportunities, successes, and financial impact to the business will help greatly.
As always, I welcome feedback and look forward to hearing what's working with others!
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As President of the Americas at POSSIBLE, Jason is responsible for leading the long-term stability and growth of the region. With more than 20 years experience in digital strategy, he is a long-time advocate of using data to inform digital strategies to help clients attract, convert, and retain customers. Jason supports POSSIBLE's clients and employees in driving new engagements and delivering great work that works. He is the co-author of Actionable Web Analytics: Using Data to Make Smart Business Decisions.
Follow him on Twitter @JasonBurby.
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