A recent article The Next Big Bang by our Webtrends CEO, Alex Yoder, was published recently online via Teradata. It got me thinking toward the technical aspects of what is within our reach in the analytics industry. The industry as a whole has moved past the mere counting of visits & their respective users as numbers and moved to making the numbers actually represent the people. That can be a weird statement, but I will clarify a bit more.
Years ago, one would setup a server and start tracking hits on a website. Often these would be called views or page views. What did that mean though? Effectively it meant zero, zilch, nothing of any value. You know only that a machine, or machines, made X number of views against a website. One didn't know what kind of browser, device, PC, Apple, screen size, or if the views were even unique to a machine or possibly unique to a user.
Then everything changed, and this is still the past I am speaking about. We finally started enabling detection of devices, browsers, screens, viewable, and types of visits. This elaboration of data drastically altered what we could build for a website. It made good design more measurable by audience participation.
A short time afterwards the industry was able to move forward and get into doing some further pre-analysis of this data. This enabled more actionable and intelligent decisions being made from web analytics data. The analytics data started creeping into the realms of business intelligence, general reporting, and actual information.
The next huge leap, which is close to where we are now, is the opening up of these sources of analytics data and bridging the final gaps in the Web, Enterprise, and E-commerce Architectures. The complete full cycle evolution has occurred from IT, to Engineering, to Marketing and over to Sales. A company can now integrate their data from analytics with their data from point of sale systems and derive true, daily, value from the decisions that can be made from these sources.
The Future Arrives
Now we are at a point, with the level of services and opening of data, that almost any valuable data point can be tracked and trended with high accuracy. Gone are the needs for traditional media that leaves one with massive gaps in segmentation and individual directed content. Today we have vastly greater capabilities.
We can analyze and provide data that helps companies at so many levels, such as tracking game play to pinpoint the fun parts versus the boring parts of a game. We can derive the dead spaces in a web site, or better yet the hard to navigate areas of an actual brick and mortar storefront. Even more analytics can provide and correlate tracking against the usage of a car or transit system, an airline boarding flow, and draw causable correlation between the very first steps a consumer takes the the purchase and beyond. All because the data is open and cross-correlative.
This leads me to my next question. What architectures have you found valuable? What combination of data cross-correlated with analytics data have given you actionable measures? What other devices, sites, and mechanisms provide a value to track, trend, and analyze? I would love to hear what users have found useful in their own environments, so please leave a comment or three. : )