Most organizations have spent precious little energy on an analytics strategy, and even fewer have structured their organizations in such a way as to give analytics data the life it deserves.

Phil Kemelor of consulting firm Semphonic asserts these things and more. You -- yes, you there -- are probably not so good at using your data. And if you don't fix that soon, says he, the coming multi-channel analytics tsunami is going to overwhelm you. Either that or you'll just keep right on going, flying blind -- while your competitors continue refining.

It's People, Then Data

There's no denying that the tools are out there. In fact, it isn't that much of a stretch to say that the number of digital analytics data sources available will probably double this year, triple the year after that, and so on.

So why are so many of us still relying on our gut feelings and a stack of Google Analytics reports to do the job? Kemelor thinks the problem lies in transitioning from online to digital. In a recent Semphonic whitepaper he wrote:

"We find that there is a lack of understanding about how abstract website data corresponds to existing business metrics, a lack of qualified staff to draw out meaningful metrics, and a myriad number of technical challenges around the purchase, implementation, use and maintenance of software required to collect and analyze data."

Beyond this, the data deluge is coming. Previously you monitored your website. But times are changing Kemelor says. Now you've got to concern yourself with your website and a growing host of other things, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, more and more video, and the burgeoning mobile web.

From Hand-off to Process

Kemelor argues that the general understanding of digital data is weak--a foundational weakness that goes as far back as terminology:

"For the uninitiated, the term Web analytics does little to convey value or action. The term only describes an activity, like 'appendectomy,' or 'driving," he said. "Tell a CMO that using analytics to measure 'visitor engagement' or a CFO that analytics is used to measure 'visitor profitability' and you might have the starting place for a discussion."

What Kemelor believes to be a lack of understanding leads many organizations to believe they can wash their hands of analytics solutions soon after purchase. On the contrary, a lot of work needs to go into defining the questions and understanding the best way to use data. Digital analytics is a business process, aided by technology solutions.

[See related article: 10 Keys to Success with Web Analytics.]

Learning Opportunities

Time for a Strategy

Of course, there are winners out there, and by Kemelor's definition that's organizations that have successfully implemented enterprise-level digital measurement and testing initiatives. Specifically those that adhere to a six-component framework:

  1. Commitment -- For analytics to succeed, there must be commitment on an executive level, backed up by both funding and communication throughout the organization.
  2. Organization -- Sufficient resources dedicated to administration, project management, analysis, management reporting and technical support.
  3. Process -- Governance framework that includes systems for data collection, processing and integration; metrics development and presentation; data analysis, and solution maintenance.
  4. Metrics -- Effective measurement is based on providing data and analysis required for driving strategic and tactical decision making, and presenting this data in ways that can be used by the specific user, whether they be senior managers, marketers, designers or content editors.
  5. Communications -- Organizational process, responsibilities, metrics requirements and results that are clearly articulated and documented from top to bottom and across the enterprise.
  6. Solutions -- Web, social media, competitive intelligence and online surveying are all driven by a software solution, as are multivariate testing, PPC search marketing, and cross-selling platforms.


The Analytics Development Lifecycle from Semphonic's Getting a Grip on Digital Analytics

Leadership is the Solution

A strategy is great. Execution of it is wonderful. But what Kemelor says you really need is a new leadership structure. In his final analysis, it's time for the creation of an analytics program office and the appointment of an organization-wide Analytics Czar.

"Digital analytics initiatives succeed when each level of the organization understands the importance of using analytics to achieve business goals," says Phil. And the way he sees this happening is through senior management's commitment to analytics in the form of a new organizational structure.


The Analytics Program Office

Kemelor proposes that the program office have the mandate of managing and coordinating the use of data and tools to provide the analytics analysis. The office would own cross-channel reporting and tools, but content and other channel operations would remain with their respective centers.

There's no doubt the data deluge is coming. Kemelor's white paper proposes one way to address it. How is your organization reacting?