Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Do we care if it's Web Analytics 2.0 or 3.0?

Heck! We might live on different (virtual) planet, but I'm fascinated by our top web analytics minds gently arguing about which version of web analytics is most promising. I have a lot of respect for Avinash Kaushik and Peterson and reading both of their recent posts had me stop, think for a few minutes, and go back to my web analytics 1.0.

Web Analytics 1.0

From the Web Analytics Association web site:
Web Analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of Internet data for the purposes of understanding and optimizing Web usage.
It's a good start! The web is the center of the universe, everything revolves around it. But it's amazing how many web sites are so badly constructed that we don't even need web analytics to optimize them. And then, the relatively small percentage of companies who addresses web analytics are barely using what's at their disposal...

Web Analytics 2.0

According to Avinash Kaushik:
"1) The analysis of qualitative and quantitative data from your website and the competition 2) to drive a continual improvement of the online experience that your customers, and potential customers have, 3) which translates into your desired outcomes."
Now we look at what surrounds us to understand our own role in the universe. Already better!

Web Analytics 3.0

While Peterson doesn't give a clear definition of what would be Web Analytics 3.0, his examples stresses "location" is key to Web Analytics 3.0:
"the next technology era will be characterized by our collective ability to access the Internet anyplace, anytime"
Ok! Now we will be able to know where we are, and where everyone else is...

Sorry, I digress!

It's always interesting to see where things could be heading, what they should be in a not so distant future. But as soon as we realize what we call the "Web" and the "Internet" exists only as part of a bigger ecosystem, where energy and communication flows from the real to the virtual, and vice-versa, we can only come to the conclusion that merely measuring the medium and it's immediate surrounding is not enough. Avinash focus on the online experience and Peterson finds the holly grail in the ability to precisely locate the source of the interaction. In my humble opinion, they are both right and wrong.

The Web and Internet ecosystem encompass quantitative and qualitative elements, physical and virtual organisms, online and offline interactions that are functioning together within legal, ethical and technological constraints. From that angle, things like a website, competition or location can't, by themselves, explain the complexity of what's going on. They can merely improve the science of analysis that will eventually lead to better insight.

It's too easy to fall in the "e-pit" where anything and everything becomes a reason to stick an "e" in front of a word. We shouldn't do the same in the web analytics world.

In the end, "web analytics" is to "analytics" what "ebusiness" is to "business". Doing one without the other is a waste of time and energy.

Shocked? You think I'm crazy? Did I miss something? Talk to me!