We're Done Experimenting With Experimentation

  |  October 11, 2012   |  Comments

Three new analytics tools that are well worth your attention as they focus on the management of analysts.

Last Tuesday, John D'Arcy wrote a very nice column on the different types of analytics tools required to stay on top of online marketing analytics. The list includes:

Web analytics tools
Data management tools
Advanced analytics tools
Voice of customer tools
Session recording tools
Testing and experimentation tools
Market intelligence tools
Site performance tools

While my hat's off to John, I've become aware of some new analytics tools that are well worth your attention as they focus on the management of analysts. I present three here and humbly ask to be made aware of others if you come across them.

Insight Collaboration Tool

While not available for sale, eBay has integrated a variety of social media tools used internally as an insight center. The eBay DataHub invites analysts to post interesting discoveries and correlations. In a company the size of eBay, it's impossible to know who else might be interested. But when inspiration strikes, eBay has a place to store those moments of, "Gee, that's funny..."

Other curious eBay employees can query the DataHub for tagged entries relating to their area of interest. Once they find an article, they can not only read the analyst's opinion and view the analyst's charts and graphs, but they will have the ability to manipulate those charts and graphs as they are live, connected to their respective datamarts. Users can add comments, join and follow a discussion, or link to a group discussing the specific tool or a tutorial.


DataHub allows analysts to include live results, integrating their analytics tools directly into posted articles.

DataHub relies on those who could benefit from analytics to proactively reach into it, search, and then sign up for related postings.

If you need something that allows the analyst to be more proactive, we turn to a tool that is available for purchase.

Insight Management Tool

The Insight Hub was designed to help analysts bring their data together in one place and then communicate their findings to internal clients.

APIs let the analyst auto-import all sorts of analytical data including web analytics, email, display ad systems, social sites, mobile analytics, etc. That data highlights the biggest changes. This is valuable because your top 10 viewed pages are only interesting once; thereafter, they are only interesting if they drop off the list. Drilling down from there happens in a couple of clicks - and yes, after some hand-crafted implementation (TNSTAAFL).

OK, sounds like many data integration tools out there. Fair enough. But now we come to the Publish and Discuss parts of The Insight Hub to generate the story instead of just share the reports.

Live charts and tables accompany the analyst's commentary to tell the tale to those of us who cannot look at a spreadsheet and immediately grasp its significance. It's a way for an analyst to invite others into her head to see what she found, how she came by it, and what she thinks it means.


Rather than a huge archive of insights, waiting to be asked to the dance, The Insight Hub is a means of communicating a specific insight to a specific audience and then allowing them to discuss the implications while drilling into the live data.

Insight Workflow Tool

Sweetspot takes the process one step farther with something like an analytics workflow system.

Yes, you can integrate all your metrics in one place. Yes, you can publish unique dashboards or scorecards for each project or executive. But Sweetspot also keeps track of whether anything was done based on the analysis and how valuable those actions were.


Data integration, insight communication, and accountability for moving the business needle. Not just reporting and not just collaboration, but an analytics management system that makes the analysts accountable.

The eBay approach relies on analysts to have bright ideas and want to share them. The Insight Hub facilitates specific and ongoing communication from data capture through business decision making. Sweetspot reveals which analysts have delivered the most impactful insights.

All told, we're leaving behind the world of skunk works, beta tools, buzz-driven business decisions, and big-data-just-because-we-can.

We're done experimenting with experimentation and entering an era of analytics management.

And not a moment too soon.

Social Network, Human Brain, and Jigsaw images via Shutterstock.



Jim Sterne

Jim Sterne is an international consultant who focuses on measuring the value of the Web as a medium for creating and strengthening customer relationships. Sterne has written eight books on using the Internet for marketing, is the founding president and current chairman of the Digital Analytics Association and produces the eMetrics Summit and the Media Analytics Summit.

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