Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Web Analytics: Reporting Vs Analysis

        Powerful web analytic tools such as Google Analytics, Adobe Site Catalyst, and Webtrends are providing businesses key insights into how their customers interact with their web assets. Much like other tools, they are only as effective as the individuals who utilize them. Managers who believe that web analytics ends at singing the license agreement and providing the intern w/ the software's user manual are ignorant of the expertise required to extract value from data aggregated by analytic tools. Without the help of knowledgeable web analysts, companies with access to these tools will succeed solely in gathering large amounts of  expensive data. Both analysis and reporting draw from the same pooled data, with reports offering questions about the data that analysis must answer.


     Reporting is defined as the process of presenting information with the purpose of allowing areas of a business to be monitored. Reports can offer a framed window into the vast amounts of raw data, which would other wise be unintelligible . Useful reporting can quickly allow managers to track day to day quantitative stats, compare current data w/ historical figures, and automatically alert managers when data falls out of predefined ranges. Web analytic software  reporting tools can allow users to deliver reports utilizing pre-define metrics ,while also  creating custom "dashboards"  based on the organization's KPI's. 

Examples of Reporting Deliverables

  • Standard Reporting Tools
    • Created by Google engineers to  quickly address the "who, what, when, where" of web data
    • Saves analysts time by having preformatted reports 
    • Little contextual value
Standard Report : Created by Google developers

  • Dashboards
    • Allows users to create custom reporting tools to address data that is relevant 
    • Users can create reports that directly address their specific organizations KPI

Dashboard: Customized to Address KPI
    With so many ways of formatting raw data through analytic software suites , companies can fall risk to believing that reports offer insight into accomplishing mission critical goals. Take for example web site visits during a weekend . A web analytic suite can offer a report on how many people visited your site, but can not tell you how to leverage it achieve your goals. The role of reporting is to push information in order enable users to starting formulating questions based on what they see in the formatted data. Once the question has been asked , we can then formulate a strategy on how to address it. 


   Analysis is the process of delving deep into data and reports in order to find useful information that could be useful to your organization. Unlike reporting, analysis requires that individuals pull conclusions from specific data regarding  business problems and questions. Many reports are automatically generated and can both illustrate and quantify some change that has occurred.  Although useful, a report is unable to describe the cause of the change, or how it can be addressed.  Good analysis tells a story. It provides context to the presented data in order to correctly frame the scenario or problem that needs addressing. 
      Once the problem or goal has been identified, the context defined (using specific data applicable to the problem), analysis then requires individuals to advise on the course of action that managers should take. It is this last step that empowers managers to act and ultimately obtain returns on web analytics.

Example of Analysis Deliverable

  • Formal Presentation
    • Highlights qualitative data pulled by reports in order to provide 
    • Clearly defines what insights were discovered 
    • Provides a recommendation on what actions management should take 



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