Business Analytics vs Web Analytics

Two key shortcomings of web analytics technology are the large amounts of unstructured data and the lack of any significant statistical modelling and predictive analysis capabilities.

Tools such as Omniture Insight and Webtrends Segments offer significant analytical and visualisation capabilities but leave much to be desired in terms of modelling and future trending. Google Analytics is only starting to address these issues scraping the surface with its Intelligence feature.

In comes SPSS, IBM’s acquired predictive analytics software and solutions firm. IBM is now in a position to merge Coremetrics’ web and mobile analytics collection platform with its powerful statistical modelling software. Such analytical capability is common practice in the offline CRM and Direct Marketing worlds but so lacking in the online world.

Web analysts spend significant amounts of time guesstimating which visitor segments are most important to their business and how to break down users’ behaviour in order to optimise the online customer experience. With SPSS’ decision tree algorithms analysts will no longer need to go through this trial and error process. Instead the software will tell them which visitor segments they should focus their attention on. They would then be able to approach the data in a much more constructive way gaining deeper insight faster.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Statistical modelling will enable analysts to identify significant outliers skewing any analysis. They could validate which data streams are significant and which should be ignored. They would be able to structure the data and apply it onto predictive models. These models would then be used to inform A/B and multivariate testing, currently an art as much as a science, and transform them into a more robust empirical process.

More than anything else the IBM Coremetrics tie up symbolises the expected transformation of the web analyst role. Currently a siloed analytical entity residing in the e-commerce or online marketing departments, the web analyst will migrate into a more traditional business analyst role within the insights and MI departments.