Sunday, June 29, 2008

Web Analytics like lettuce & spinach

A while back, someone inquired about the proper balance between web analysts tasks, a topic I also covered a while back. I initially replied to the Yahoo! Web Analytics Forum but wanted to repost here:
How do you strike a balance between information-gathering/data-analysis and report-creating/insight-sharing at your job?

In other words, we as Web Analysts are paid to PRODUCE, am I right?

What percentage of what you do would you say is thinking and education, and what percentage is making something tangible?

I'm curious; what do you think is the "Proper" balance?
I would argue that we're not paid to "produce", we're paid to bring insight. A farmer produce lettuce and carrots for someone else to transform into salad... a web analyst should provide insight that can influence business decisions and lead to specific actions. To stay in the same analogy, our role is to advise the farmer to produce spinach because demand is growing and would be more profitable than lettuce.

Reports are tools; a mean of communication that supports our advices and makes it easier to "pass along to others". Most managers loves reports because they are tangible, they can show it off and pass it along to their colleagues. But the real value hidden in the report are not the charts and tables, it's the story they tell.

I'm also a freelance, so maybe it's not a good reference. But I spend as much as 30% learning, educating myself and staying tuned to the business. In my case, "the business" is the web analytics field in general, but also the specific vertical industries of my clients. Then I spend another 40% doing analysis and finding ways to communicate info more effectively (see my post about Web Analytics Dashboards: fun with Excel 2007). Another 20% actually communicating the results, coaching and increasing my clients web analytics maturity. The remaining 10% is mostly admin time.