I’d like to get my thoughts together on following question.
Should we think of web analytics data as an asset?
Web Analytics data as an asset
Generally speaking, asset is defined as “A resource with economic value that an individual, corporation or country owns or controls with the expectation that it will provide future benefit.” It certainly sounds like useful data could be an asset. As we all know more and more companies are generating profits and contributing to country’s growth through data business. In my view, this applies to any businesses or industries. Let’s focus on Web Analytics.
Experts in the field of web analytics are well aware of the available quantitative data, highlighting few:
- Traffic to the site and by different acquisition channels
- Traffic to pages
- Actions taken on the site by the visitors
- Custom event parameters tied to user behaviors (i.e. people who came from Organic Search and hit that +1 or Like button)
So any of these worthy of calling it an asset?
Many experts will say, you’ll need to quantify the value of your data. Some will say, go analyze it by seeing what if you have an incorrect data, and review the impact on business. In my view, any data in this erra could be valuable and are worthy of treating like an asset. There would need to be priorities on selecting which data, but recent data storage and infrastructure (even for BIG data) has become a commodity. I believe that good analysts will be able to extract value out of massive amounts of data, but would definitely require good planning around it.
When data is treated like an asset, the first thing that comes to my mind is data warehousing the data. Businesses like to spend money on sales side, but if you look at companies that are making huge dollars from pure digital services, they’re treating user behavior data like the most important thing in their company. Let’s equate that to web data. So why so important??
I’m going to borrow Mark Zuckerberg’s statement in Facebook’s IPO filing –
Simply put: we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services. These days I think more and more people want to use services from companies that believe in something beyond simply maximizing profits.
Wow… ok so this is no brainer to me. Building great service means, understanding your consumer/customer, and continue to build better experience by continuing to optimizing the service. Nothing about the sales, but about the upper part of marketing funnel relating to the entire business. These companies championing digital data driving faster revenue growth than any traditional companies are analyzing the crap out of the massive amount of user data, and making investments to drive better engagement, shares, user experience, etc.
They are collecting, processing, and storing non-sales data and ACTING upon it. Great services then yield massive amounts of revenue opportunity. Instead of focusing on sales and review what worked or what didn’t, then try to replicate/apply the learnings, these companies look at consumer’s footprints and other non-sales measures to lead the path to better service or growth.
I can hear people say, “well I got my web analytics data in Google Analytics or in Webtrends or Omniture SiteCatalyst so that’s it right?”.
I say go do your homework and see how long they keep the data, and ask yourself do you really want to keep your company’s asset in someone else’s hands and always have some dependencies around it on third party? Not sure about you, but I’ll say “NO”.
Thankfully, these data companies realize the importance of getting data out of their platform, so most of them provide some form of API interface to query/export data outside of their GUI tool. I love running Webtrends data out of their REST API. Allowing companies to build their own data warehouse gives tremendous amount of leverage to integrate various data and perform valuable analysis beyond “web site” analytics.
Many companies not running a massive .com, but doing simple stuff out of small sites, I would still challenge them to think about the long term big picture, especially if the company is “going” to invest in digital space (could be in a form of online ads, website, CRM, etc.).
A lot of people measure future success by comparing against previous historical data. Some companies plan on historical data and profile data to learn possible opportunities.
These web data could be used in predictive modeling, marketing mix modeling, marketing media planning, CRM/Web Behavior segment targeting, etc.
SO.. web data does seem to be important right?!