The battle for who controls your company's web analytics heats up.
Let's suppose there is an imaginary company in the packaged goods business that is a heavy user of web analytics data to improve their online product offerings, campaigns, and digital partnerships. And let us suppose they had for several years used outside web analytics expertise to deliver much-needed actionable insights to their business users. The business teams have been getting good, actionable information and have begun to rely more heavily on the outside experts who know the tools and techniques necessary to generate value.
Now let's suppose there is a small cadre of IT people who decide, without asking the business users, that they can do web analytics themselves - booting out the trusted third-party experts the business had relied upon. Let's suppose they may have gotten a little scared that such key functions in the business were relying on processes they did not control, but ostensibly perhaps ought to control. And that their supposition was that analytics rightfully "belongs to IT," as the mistake is often made.
While they could not make a good business case for jettisoning the experts, they claimed instead that the consultants had "broken a security protocol" and while this was a thin veil for their plan to make themselves more indispensible, it passed muster and soon the consultants were out and the IT team was positioned to take on analytics.
One day I visited a friend whose office was right next door to Mario, a VP of marketing, as he met with William, a member of the abovementioned IT cadre. Via the magic of modern thin-wall construction techniques, we were able to overhear the following:
Mario: We've had no reports now for six weeks. I tried calling Dan over at Analytics Consulting and he said they were not working with us anymore.
William: We had to let them go. We are now handling analytics internally.
Mario: When Debra, Laura, Brian, and Vinay reported to me this week, they said they had lost all visibility into the success of the Powder Ridge campaign and that no one on your team knew when it would be restored.
William: It is possible that Dan may have corrupted something.
Mario: In seven years Dan's team never corrupted anything. Please tell me when we will have reports again.
William: We are in review of the entire analytics package. It may not be right for us.
Mario: My team was very happy. It seemed right for them. Why was it not right for you?
William: We had detected issues with certain internal protocols relating to structural inefficiencies.
Mario: I am detecting a run-around. Who can I speak with about getting reports up and running again?
William: I will admit we need to have a small brush-up on tagging.
Mario: We just finished going through a complete re-tagging of the site and it had been QA'd and everything was fine. And then suddenly no reports. Also I have six new campaigns rolling out next month that need detailed tracking.
William: The IT team is dedicated to your success.
Mario: To whom may I speak about getting accurate, meaningful reports again?
William: Some of these reports may have become defective.
Mario: Since when?
William: Only recently. I am sure the data can be corrected.
Mario: Recently - since the experts left?
William: I cannot say.
Mario: What if I told you that the marketing team had decided your computers were too dusty?
William: I do not understand.
Mario: That your computers were dusty and that they all had to be replaced with flat-screen televisions so we could watch 30 Rock because that show sparked our creative juices? And that this would also somehow make us more able to manage the server farm as well?
William: Our computers are very clean.
Mario: What if I told you that the marketing team was going to prevent you from writing any emails without thorough review for grammar, tone, and brevity?
William: I would say that would be a misstep on your part - and it would be encroaching on our ability to be effective in our jobs.
Mario: That is what I thought you would say. Because that is exactly what you have done to my marketing team and for no good reason.
William: We have some very capable people internally and we wanted to give them a chance at learning analytics.
Mario: I'm sorry, I didn't hear that.
William: I didn't say anything.
Mario: How about this: in two weeks I will speak with you again. If that conversation does not include a presentation of all our analytics in a manner commensurate with what we used to get from Dan's company, then I will blow the whistle on your team.
William: Do you have Dan's number? I seem to have lost it.
At that point my friend returned from the water cooler and we went out to lunch. On the way back, I saw William in the park reading the first chapter of "Web Analytics: An Hour a Day" by Avinash Kaushik.
Andrew V. Edwards is a digital marketing executive with 20 years of experience serving large organizations, and has been an operating executive and digital marketing consultant since the 1980s.
In 2004 Edwards co-founded the Digital Analytics Association and is currently a director emeritus. He has designed analytics training curricula for business teams and has led seminars on digital marketing subjects.
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