Who Owns Web Analytics? A Framework For Critical Thinking.

SymmetryIt is rare for me to work with a organization where the root cause for their faith based decision making (rather than data driven) was not the org structure.

It is almost never tools. Not any more.

Surprisingly it is often not their will to use data, that is there in many cases.

Sometimes it is that they don't follow the 10/90 rule.

It is always the organization structure.

Specifically: Who owns web analytics / who it reports to from a org structure perspective.

[Let me hasten to add that this, web analytics ownership, does not exist in a vacuum. If your overall web business is misaligned from an org perspective then honestly there is no hope for you, regardless of where analytics sits.]

This is a topic I cover in my new book, Web Analytics 2.0. Chapter 14: HiPPOs, Ninjas, and the Masses: Creating a Data-Driven Culture.

In this blog post I'll share a unique "case study", more like one person's problem, and my advice to them about how to think about the organization problem.

Here's the question / challenge:

I’m facing an issue I’m sure many large organizations struggle with: where should an organization place its web analysts? Currently, I lead a small team of analysts at a medium-sized bank. We are part of the Web Sales division, along with an e-commerce (online media) team and the content crew.

Web Sales is considered a channel in the same way our call-centre, local branches and customer account managers are. As such, we are not a part of the central Marketing (and Marketing Intelligence) teams at corporate. I see a few different options but would be happy to hear your opinion.

You will all agree that it is really hard to answer a question like the one above without spending time with the company and understanding its strengths and meeting the political players involved.

In this post let me share with you a common sense framework I use in my consulting engagements to figure out a home for web analysts.

Each facet of the framework also contains a peek into what I am thinking, best practices I have developed from all the bruises I have (as a Practitioner and a Consultant) and how I end up making the choices I do. I hope it is of value to you all (and now you don't have to pay me large sums of money to do this for you!).

The four pronged real world tested probing and loaded with politics framework to find a home for Web Analytics:

1. How long has the company been doing web analytics, what is the landscape of tools?

Are there standard tools deployed? Or is it all cowboy country with "Analysts", if any, running with as much freedom as free range chickens (which by the way I highly recommend!).

I use this as the first filter because I am trying to gauge how to have the highest impact, quickly.

[A] If there is some level of standardization of tools, if there are some analysts (an analyst!), some reports going out on schedule (even if data pukes) then an optimal path might be to centralize some where (see item #2 below).

[B] If it is free range chicken cowboy country then the fight might not be worth it, I lean towards identifying "accelerators" with the goal of finding the best fit division / site / HiPPO and getting them, just them, to embrace web analytics and show the macro organization how value flows from moving from faith based to being data driven. I call "them" (combination of analytical marketer, analyst, HiPPO, Google Analytics, small site – or atleast two of those things) accelerators because rather than waiting for the CEO to save the world, my optimal path is to embarrass the CEO and VP's by showing proof.

That breaks log-jammed discussions and politics like nothing else.

2. What's the state of analytical maturity of the organization (either the center or the division/silos)?

I am trying to get a feel for three things with this:

* How hard to fight?
* How long will the struggle be to move away from faith?
* Should I go with a centralized or decentralized or some other strategy (more on this below)?

If the overall organization is not very savvy analytically (and it is large) then the strategy will be very different. I don't have much patience and I am not going to try and rebuild the entire darn organization in one day. When I consult with large companies when they are in this (messy) state my deliverable is a 90 day plan (that relies on the aforementioned accelerators) and a 180 day plan and a 365 day plan.

If you make the mistake of just creating a 365 day plan for your company that is not analytically savvy then…. well you are making a mistake.

If it turns out that the org overall is not savvy but a division / silo is, then they are my new BFF's and any analytical resource that I might have I am going to send their way, even if that analytical resource is a Marketer or a Salesperson who knows how to log into Google Analytics and interpret bounce rates and analytics intelligence.

If it turns out that the org is savvy then this becomes a discussion where I try to interview, chat, unearth the politics, identify the true power centers and make a recommendation about centralization, decentralization or (centralized decentralization).

I wish there was a standard option for every organization, even one that is analytically savvy, but there rarely is. Every business I have delivered the 90, 180, 365 day plans to has gotten something unique.

3. Who owns the power to make changes to the site (not who owns updating pages or hosting the site)?

This is a nuance to the discussion above. But a very important nuance.

Web Analysts (or call them data driven missionaries!) get crushed (and ignored) very often because they end up sitting in an org, reporting to people, who actually don't have the power to make authorize changes to pages, campaigns, acquisitions strategies, testing paths, surveys etc etc.

The Analysts / Marketers / IT dudes keep churning data and sending the insights but nothing every changes.

It matters who your boss is and how much power she has to make stuff happen.

So… not a surprise… if you can align Web Analysts (and based on #1 and #2 above the Web Analytics program) with the actual human being who has the power.

The closer you can get to her (direct report?) the better off you are. It does not matter if she (or he :)) is in Sales or Marketing or …. anywhere.

Getting access to data is easy. Finding insights is harder. Taking action on insights is nearly impossible.

If you need to sleep with someone to get your data folks/tools directly aligned with the person than makes decisions, take one for the team and do it! [Ok, only if it's legal where you live. ;)]

4. Which physical organizational model will work best for you? Centralized? Decentralized? Something else?

Every large or small company has to deal with this. Atleast when they a implementation roadmap from me (or you) that looks beyond 90 days, and certainly beyond 180.

Before I go on let me point out that I very deliberately talk about this here, #4. And that's regardless of how analytically savvy your organization is, from pathetic to magnificent, you'll want to come to this last (even as in #2 you are collecting data that will influence you here).

My organization redesign plans have recommended either one of the three models. I have come to realize that from my humble experience that it is the trajectory of the arc of evolution that makes one model better than the other (and, amazingly, independent of the first three questions!).

These models are discussed in Ch 14 of the book but let me give you a hyper fast summary here:

Centralized models (where there is one analytics team, usually in the center, and it serves the entire organization and every need from an ad hoc report to when to go to the bathroom) are a fit for organizations that are earlier in their evolution arc. They are exceptionally good at standardizing tools, best practices, teaching, getting everyone in the org to rise to a local maxima.

They have a nasty tendency to become, and I use this word in its dirtiest possible uses, bureaucracies. Slow moving, disconnected from reality (they are rarely on the front lines and even rarer still connected to anyone's particular business goals) glorified data pukers. Sorry. Had to be said.

If you are executing on a centralized model be aware of the pros and cons.

centralized decentralized distributed

Decentralized models (free range chicken cowboy land where everyone is doing their own thing) are fast moving, directly aligned to someone's (a division / business unit's) P&L and contain people who can get fired pretty fast if the data is not adding value. Just try to implement a paid tool for half a million dollars and dare to not deliver actual usable insights. You are out man!

They also tend to generate inefficiencies (everyone's doing their own thing after all) be it with tools or work or metrics definitions or testing platforms or….. Decentralized organizations optimize for a local maxima and it happens all the time that while individual divisions in a company win, that the company as a whole loses. Pantene and Tide win but P&G as a whole still gets screwed.

I share in the book that the best model in the universe for an analytics team is a hybrid, something I call Centralized Decentralization. There is a lean (# of people) and agile central tem that is responsible for all the pro's you see mentioned above and also satellite lean team (of one or a very small number of people) in the BU's / divisions, that are responsible for the pro's you see mentioned above for decentralized teams.

Everyone wins.

There is a way to structure the leadership of the organizations, there is a way to align incentives and bonuses, there is a specific method to picking the skills required in each part, there is a perfect time to create such a centralized-decentralized organization. But that's for another post.

Oh and one more thing…

it hope

Before you get upset (if you are in IT) please please know that the tweet above comes from someone has spent three years in IT, lived the life and paid the dues. It sadly simply does not work. A mismatch of skills, motivations and what the core existence is supposed to deliver. I'll reluctantly agree with you that there are perhaps exceptions to the rule, I'll believe it if you show them to me. :)

Which division / department offers the best possible home for Web Analytics?

After a lot of experimentation and failures I have come to realize that often (if above conditions are met) Marketing is the best organization for Web Analytics to be in. It is optimal because Marketing is in the business of raising awareness, connecting with customers, presenting the company's value proposition etc etc.

Unlike say Sales that is there to make a quota at any cost each quarter. Or PR that is there to pimp the company and it's greatness to the world (not that there's anything wrong with that). Or Corp Comm whose job it is to share information and where folks are not hired for their business savvy. Or…. other divisions. In my humble experience Marketing tends to have the right set of skills, motivations and their core existence is around current and future customers.

If they have the power in the company, Analytics will be happy there.

Caveat: Remember Marketing ownership is not a panacea. You'll have to go through the questions in the framework above and ensure that there is a strong business leader who owns driving changes on the site and that the company is on the right evolutionary path and…. all the things you read above. And even if Marketing owns web analytics the ideal you are shooting for is Centralized Decentralization.

[Update: Please see Jim Novo's thought on value of Finance as an option for owning Web Analytics.]

Now you know.

I hope you've found the four pronged real world tested probing and loaded with politics framework to be of value and that it helps you make better decisions about how to organize web analytics in your company. It is one of the hardest things to pull off right, and with all my heart I wish you all the very best in your journey.

Ok… your turn now.

What is the organization structure like in your company? Where does web analytics fit? Does it work? If not why not? What would you do differently? What do you think I am missing in my four pronged framework? From your experience how would you make it better? What is one thing I got completely wrong?

Please share your feedback via comments. Thank you.

Couple other related posts you might find interesting:


  1. 1

    Great to see an article on the biggest challenge of analytics in larger organisations – the bigger the organisation, the larger the challenge.

    IMO A centralised specialist function is essential to provide education and evangelism. With the rate of enhancement of WA systems and in particular Google Analytics, the central team have a key role to help business users understand new features and how they apply to their world.

    But, of course to get the value and business benefits from web analytics you need users within the business asking their own questions and using the web analytics systems to find the answers themselves.

    As page and journey optimisation becomes more sophisticated I think another key central role is to provide support for structured experiments to ensure they are completed in a scientific way. I see some companies with a rolling programme of experiments for different parts of the business/customer journey managed by the central team.


  2. 2

    I'm a small business – I am the IT department and I check my own stats. I also pay the bills and keep the customer happy. I have no choice but to learn and do my best at web analytics.

  3. 3

    I feel fortunate to be in the current position I'm in. The organization I'm in had been using analytics tools for years, but had never before had someone to look at them full time until I came on the scene. Because of this I'm only beholding to the business manager, who also has no preconceived notions of how things should be. The result is that I'm mostly able to operate as a "free range chicken".

    Part of what helped me get to this point is how I originally sold my self to my hippo. I presented myself as a kind of secret agent who knew how to get the dirt on what the other departments were doing or should be doing.

  4. 4

    Hello Avinash,

    It is amazing how you take a jumbled mess and boil it down to consumable pieces. Your common sense approach works for me. And most probably for everyone else who doesn't dine on numbers 3 times a day.

    I love your BLOG posts – albeit they are long…… more like chapters in a book – LOL

    As an aside I have finished Book #1 and have firm plans to retire to a warm bath this evening accompanied by Web Analytics 2.0!

  5. 5

    This is a great topic, most business of any decent size have this problem but the hippos do not realize it.

    As my companies analyst, developer and internet advertising coordinator I can testify that we have this problem and it is hard to break the structure, I call it ready, fire and aim.

    It works kind of like this,

    Ready = Hippos create an idea that one of the staff has already been cheerleading for the last 6 months to a year. The hippos pay not attention to detail, because details do not matter in their eyes and if you bring up details that may slow down the launching of their new idea your looked at like you are trying to kill the idea.

    Fire = Staff emplements the idea as fast as the graphic artist, printers and web designers can get it done, all do to rushed deadlines because everyone is in a hurry to try and save the company with a idea that might help in the short run but in the long run it hurts the overall growth of the company.

    Aim = After the idea / offer has been implemented or expired, hippos blame eveyone who emplemented the hippos rushed idea that failed or was short lived because details were overlooked.

    If your company follows this model give me a HELL YEAH,

    As a analyst / developer its sad to see this in so many companies, especially because wether the company does good or bad it reflects on its staff, even if you are doing exactly what the hippos tell you.

  6. 6
    Greg Polkinghorn says

    Maybe I just need to buy the book but I am curious about how this model fits given the need to also integrate web analytics, consumer research, usability and competitive intel. While I like the idea of decentralized/centralized for web analytics I am less sure about how that would work for these other analytic functions.

  7. 7

    Makes me think that web analytics is the new accounting. And anyone who knows cost accounting knows that org structure has a lot to do with cost and profit allocation.

    Another good one, Avinash!

  8. 8
    Noran El-Shinnawy says

    Every single web analytics training session/boot camp I've been to, people always say "oh, I take care of marketing and the website but I was just kinda thrown into this whole analytics thing."

    It seems like web analytics is viewed as a secondary function that can be dumped on marketing, IT, or analysts. So the day organizations truly understand the importance of web analytics is the day they will hire a dedicated person or team to handle it.

  9. 9

    This is a really good post. though many organizations have started waking up to analytics there is still some confusion on where to place it.

    I think that analytics works best when the analyst works closely with the product development and the product marketing teams. Also if there is a clear understanding and expectation that one or many resources will work on a particular product(s) and will report to the IT and the marketing leads of that product,it would work really well. There needs to be some kind of dedicated resource so that accountability can be identified.

    My 2 cents. Great post.One does not see such topics often.

  10. 10

    Dear Avinash,

    Excellent blog post. The comments, too. Web analytics CAN be such a powerful tool to support the health of a business and its future growth!

    I look forward to reading your book.


  11. 11

    It matters who your boss is and how much power she has to make stuff happen.

    That is the key to business life, I'm afraid.

    Marketing is the best organization for Web Analytics to be in

    I would go further and say "Customer Acquisitions," and specifically the direct-response folks, should own analytics. I got into analytics, as I could only do so much from "buying" side, and eventually had to get involved w/ the site to keep progressing via post-click marketing.

    "Marketing" is too broad… giving analytics to the "Brand group," would be a mistake. Analytics should be tied to those that can best use the data… DR by definition *requires* data to move fwd. As a "customer acq" guy, I want to be involved before the site is even built, and then guide analytics strategies from there.

    Ready. Aim. Fire. If your company follows this model give me a HELL YEAH,
    – Brent

    Hell yeah! Perfectly put! What a nightmare. : ]


  12. 12

    Hi Avinash, Good post – seems timely to me since I have been mulling this over for some time now – although extending the scope of the topic beyond web analytics to consumer insights more broadly. Just read this BCG study that deals with that topic (http://www.bcg.com/documents/file35167.pdf) .

    My thinking on this topic boils down to the following –

    Web Analytics and more importantly insight generation cannot exist in a web vacuum – if your company exists in, operates in and markets in other media, then any insights need to be tightly integrated across these channels.

    Organization structure is a tough obe – but regardless of where the team lives, it absolutely needs to have a line to C-suite to make sure that the insights are getting the visibility needed to push actions. The most frustrating experience, as you point out, to create great insights and then watch them fade away as your audience does not take action, or worse, does not have any idea on how to act on them.

  13. 13

    Dave: You are right on the value of centralization (hence in my optimal scenario cent-decent there is a very valuable role for a central function). But I have to admit there are organizations that have been at such a stage of analytics evolution that I have recommended they simply go decentralized, atleast for xx amount of time and then rethink.

    For "bleeding edge" things (sadly testing is still there) a centralized "mother figure" team can do wonders in moving a company forward fast. I would add VOC and Competitive Intelligence to that as well.

    Dan: I am sure 99% of the web analytics practitioners out there are jealous of you!

    You have absolutely gone about enshrining ownership the right way. At this level of analytics evolution (and I suspect due to the size of your business) you are able to operate as a "free range chicken". As the evolution continues, and the org / biz grows, you can use some of the framework in the post to keep WA Ownership optimal.

    PS: I love secret agents (and Ninjas!).

    Brent: Hell Yeah!

    : )

    It is sad but Ready Fire Aim is a scenario I have personally seen more often than I would like to.

    But there is hope. You and other Analysis Ninjas are still out there working hard to change the world!

    Greg: The challenge is not the model itself, it is choosing which part (centralized or decentralized) owns what parts (clickstream analysis, usability, competitive intel etc etc). If the organizational maturity in particular pieces then those lend themselves to be decentralized, but if it does not then the central function can be the "mother figure" and nurture and innovate.

    Noran: I concur.

    For most companies being data driven is an afterthought. Both because they come from the old faith based world but also because many of us in the analytics world function in a Reporting Squirrel mode and we have miserably failed to truly show the value of using data.

    We have to take responsibility for that and stop data puking. When we start delivering insights that drive action I think this kind of cavalier attitude won't exist in companies.

    Guy: I do like the idea of customer acquisition / DM folks owning it, if for no other reason than my consistent experience that traditional DM folks are some of the most analytically savvy folks around and we, WA, can learn so much from their experience of being Ninjas.

    Nikki: Thank you for pointing the need for broader integration with the non-web (who cares!) analytics teams. All kidding aside that is critical.

    In this post I simply wanted to focus on the web because that little part is in such a mess 99% of the time. My recommendations hope to help create a good step one.

    Then comes the hard work of integration (team and perhaps systems) for a broad company business intelligence view.


  14. 14

    "If your analytics is owned by your IT team there is less hope for you than you think, & it's not the team's fault"

    Nice tweet

  15. 15

    If all else fails, Finance is the best default home for a web analyst; at least mission and thought process are aligned, and some degree of influence / ability to act is present.

    If you find yourself spending a lot of time *justifying* decisions rather than *analyzing* them (Marketing?), ask for a transfer to Finance. Many analysts (not just web analysts) are quite happy there!

  16. 16

    Chapter 14 is my favorite chapter, buddy. I've always been an advocate of marketing ultimately owning web analytics, and championing a web analyst or marketing analyst that is a tech head to diagnose, recommend, or even code changes to the site so that IT just has to copy/paste. Alas, sometimes copy and paste is just as difficult to get right… sigh…


    FYI: Shameless Avinash Kaushik plug.

  17. 17

    I am totally agree with your post! Many company start to be more data driven but I should say Web Analytics should be on their own! A dependent party who serve all business need.

    I always see Web Analysis as a consultant instead of a bigger or smaller function. In a ideal world Web Analysis should be a all rounder to provide the right advise to the right people!


  18. 18

    I guessed correctly :) Marketing.. Halfway through your first book, getting great value from it, when will you start a TV channel I can watch!

  19. 19

    Hi Avinash, glad that you're tackling such a big question!

    I agree with you. If IT holds the ultimate power of web analytics, the organization will not get far. From personal experience at various places, I can tell you that IT is more worried about keeping control, the status quo (if it ain't broke, don't fix it!), and do as little A/B testing as possible.

    Unfortunately, for a website to truly fit the needs of its end-users, we need: to share all information throughout the whole organization, challenge the status quo, and perform plenty of A/B testing.

    Another point that you touched was about report generation by marketing not getting action by CEOs and COOS. That is so true. Sad, but true. However, I've found in my professional practice that us marketers need to provide actionable items with quantifiable goals and deadlines (gasp!) rather than a lengthy/flashy/thank-you-I'll-keep-it-in-a-folder PowerPoint presentation. Providing action items that are realistic are more likely to get the CEO and COO to include our requests on their To-Do list.

    :) Damian

  20. 20

    It is even more unfortunate if the boss looks at the website from his perspective rather than the visitors & does not approve of a majority of changes one would like to implement from analytics.

    It matters who your boss is and how much power she has to make stuff happen.

    True. Sadly True. I just watch all the precious data slip through my fingers.

    and yeah Avinash, AWESOME BOOK. I am halfway through :)

  21. 21

    Damian: It really is sad how often the web analytics work gets completely ignored by the senior decision makers.

    But we, WA, people have to take responsibility for that and do all we can to truly create data driven bosses!

    Thanks for the comment!


  22. 22

    I was really happy when discovering your new post. You know how important this topic is for me at the moment. The chapter about it in your book was actually the first chapter I read :-)

    I fully share your view that WA should not be owned in IT – I even blogged about it few months ago http://bit.ly/4QabCs

    But this makes me desperate… as I am in IT :-/

    Trying to find support on the business side is not an easy thing – especially when organization is very siloed. Making people understand the value of having a real organization for WA is the easy part. Making people doing the necessary change is the tricky part.

    But I strongly believe in the idea of a decentralized centralized model – with an expert team fully supporting the business so they only need to focus on…their business (and not on how will I collect these data? are they accurate? What toll is the best? Who I need to contact to get the tags in place….)

    2010 will be full of challenges…like every year!

    Great post & thanks a lot. Plenty of interesting tips!


  23. 23
    Sandy McConnell says

    As someone who is in IT, has implemented Analytics in 2 companies and has managed ecommerce development, I have to agree with the ownership residing in marketing. To me it needs to reside within a function that ultimately delivers / owns the business nos, and should be acting on the 'insights' being provided from all the other outputs being receieved.

    The problem is IT owning the initial implementation of the system, thinking they still own it, but not dependent or interested in the output unless something breaks when they suddenly think I wonder what the analytics says. The ongoing checking and use of the information must sit with the ultimate business owner who can then marry it with the other outputs they have. Surveys, CI etc.

    Great post Avinash and keeps me thinking always..

  24. 24

    Michael: You are one of the enlightened folks in IT, and your mix of business and technically makes you a odd duck. :) Hence I am sure you can accomplish a lot no matter where you are.

    But for the organization to truly blossom, for the data democracy prosper, you'll have to fight the good fight for clear and distinct business leadership by someone who has the power to change customer web experience based on your data insights.

    You of course, as is clear on your blog, doing that. Please know that we are all rooting for you!

    Sandy: I appreciate you sharing the feedback from your own IT experience.

    In my time working in IT, 3 yrs, I realized we are good at building things and keeping things going and doing cool implementations (/hacks). But that is where the road ended. It is better for someone else to take it from there.


  25. 25

    In our company we have an E-Business team (which I lead) and it lives within the marketing department. My position reports to the VP of Marketing. Our E-Business team owns web analytics.

    E-Business disciplines break down as follows:

    – Application & Development strategy
    – Business Intelligence & BI
    – E-commerce & Channel
    – E-marketing (where web analytics resides)
    – User Experience (UX) & Design

    Under this structure, we define E-Business as:

    Driving multichannel sales, new customer acquisition, brand recognition and loyalty, and customer retention.


  26. 26

    Thought provoking post :) though very geared towards the hypothetical scenario.

    If marketing is the best sponsor, then what is the level of authority for that department within the organization? Marketing takes on many forms in this topic so it is difficult to determine what you mean by "marketing".

    Regardless of what promises vendors make to clients (marketing teams), the process still has a core dependency on a technical team (call it IT, development etc)

    For larger organizations, development has many stakeholders within the company, so their process dictates your analytical capabilities.

    Point is, you are taking a ticket for production work or your fighting with business cases to determine to the business why a developer should do your work.

    then there is the question of how developers go about their work. Is it agile development, waterfall model? etc…

    This may be controversial and might not apply to some reading (if anyone is reading this :) but for larger organisations, Web Analytics works when it sits with the user experience team (Usability, IA, designers, search engine folks and the stats nerd that validates the numbers)

    Marketers interest in web analytics is more about the departmental incentive, that is budget justification for advertising. If we are preaching about the users needs, then Usability folks should be owning the data and feeding insights to the business. There is greater tech expertise as well as communication skills :)

    Sounds a bit harsh ( and I do have a background in marketing as well as stats :) but speaking purely from an operational perspective, is data validation, testing or quality assurance the background of a marketer?

  27. 27

    @narbeh – I agree that the UX team can own it. But I'd also say that the e-commerce/online merchandising team has a rather significant stake in web analytics, too. As do E-Marketers who are focused on demand creation to understand which campaigns drive the most traffic and subsequent conversions on a site.

    Web analytics is so broad that it's like asking who's responsible for revenue at a company. Sales? Channel Marketing? Product Marketing? R&D? Everyone has a stake in it.


  28. 28

    Love it… The more I look for answers to address analytics issues, the more additional questions arise. Great post – and now more to think about.

  29. 29

    Eric: I agree with the sentiment that many have a stake in it, but when it comes to leadership I don't think many have a stake at claiming leadership.

    There are one or two departments in the company that will optimally lead data driven decision making. The UX team is not one of them. The UX team is good at a lot of things but it is unusual to find a UX with the optimal mental model required.

    Remember the post is not about participation, which will involve many teams, the post is about optimal leadership.

    Thanks so much for adding to our lively conversation.


  30. 30

    Hi Avinash,

    Thanks for the support! Like the idea of the "odd duck" – especially that I am good at imitating ducks (according to my kids) :-)

    First thing is to get support – get the idea of having an organization (wherever it is seeded) but ultimately – it has to be on business side, as you said to fully blossom.

    I constantly get evidences that in general, IT is missing something important – the business mindset (IMO).



  31. 31

    Great article, thanks for the write-up.

  32. 32

    Great post, Avinash…

    I find myself trying to set up that very Centralized Decentralization model in my own org but things are moving slooooooowly. Fighting the good fight. At least we have a user-centered design project in the works. Once again, your second book was excellent. Thanks again for all your insights!

    P.S. I changed blog hosting! Feel free to comment on the new design. :D

  33. 33

    Excellent post Avinash! I second the nod to marketing. Even if the marketing department lacks web savvy, they are often the most customer-centric department. Not only are they used to working with data, they are used to working with *imperfect data*.

    At a prior job, my analytics languished when our small web team was consumed by Corporate IT. IT was interested in cost recovery, and had very neat powerpoint charts depicting cost savings after they reduced the number of Blackberries to sales staff in the field. No one cared about whether our website was making money.

    That is until the CMO plucked me to work in marketing. She never cared that data was only 70% accurate. All of her offline focus groups and user studies had huge error margins. She was a former CPG executive from P& G and simply wanted *directional* data.

    Finally, on the subject of data expectations, I would put a lot of the blame on us as analysts. We obsess over getting from 92% to 95% confidence. Who cares. The business makes million dollar decisions every day, and in the absence of decent data, they use their guts.

    I hate to say it, but (at the executive level anyway), the HIPPO might be the smartest person in the company. As analysts, we need be their best advisors and help them make decisions on less than perfect information.

  34. 34

    Javaun: Wonderful comment, thank you so much for sharing your personal experience.

    I agree with you on the other two points as well. Web Analytics practitioners must take the blame for both our obsession with data quality:

    Data Quality Sucks, Let’s Just Get Over It

    and for being too enamored with our ability to report data. The latter means we report the Insignificant Many rather than analyzing the Critical Few. Almost always it stymies our progress.

    But awareness is the first step towards improvement.

    Thank you so much again,


  35. 35
    John Exell says

    Ironically I've been separated from my e-marketing buddies, who themselves have been integrated into the the off-line Marketing department, so we have regressed back into a centralised model, the good news is that I'm now aligned with the key decision maker in terms of site changes, hopefully I can be a Free Range Chicken as well, looking forward to reading the book.

  36. 36
    Alice Cooper's Stalker says

    I know I'm throwing my 2cents into the pot a little late here…. I too, believe that marketing should be the ultimate owner of Web Analytics.

    However, I think that there are a lot of stakeholders throughout the organization that need to be INVOLVED in providing input into the web analytics program. The larger the organization the more people you will have with some dependency on your data.

    As for the IS versus Marketing discussions above…there were some generalizations/stereo types made. People stereotype people/functions (dare I say segment?) based on the experiences that they have. I think it would be a best situation to have marketing and IS partner closely together with each bringing their strengths to the table. Web analytics is using technology (IS) to understand digital marketing (marketing) efforts better. There are somethings in this arena that marketing does better and there are some things that IS does better.

  37. 37

    I wholeheartedly agree that in a traditional business structure that Web Analysts are a natural fit with Marketing. BUT… if I ruled the world…Or my own company, I would have a "Goals" Division reporting to the head honcho. It would be two pronged, with one side being home to the CFO.

    (Aside: There is a lot of important work going on over there, but but nothing I as a web analyst really want to worry about. I believe the two are tied together, and both profit from a close working relationship)

    The second prong would be be sales and customer driven, and incorporate both on & offline goal measurement. This division would be responsible for the analysis of any data puking done down the line, and creating initiatives/working with the appropriate groups to improve goal performance. Goals would be set by the head honcho or the customer – and here en lies the power of the analyst to determine what those goals are…power to the ninja!

    One thing that is essential for this structure to work is personnel. This group must be product and customer driven, with high standards for accountability & improvement, and amazing communication skills to motivate & draw different teams together.

    1-2-3-Go! Right? At least a girl can dream. :)

  38. 38

    Web analytics comes really crucial though not everyone has the capability to manage it and thus, keeping these mistakes in them without them noticing it. What I could say is that the analytics serve as a tool to have that line between your market and the great competition and without knowing how the competitor levels up, you will not know how to grow much than them and create that change. The help of the owner with productivity and innovation of the team though can make these things easier along the way.

  39. 39
    Sandy McConnell says

    More power to your elbow – Emily F. Personnel are key – the wrong people won't make any of it happen. We have to be our own PR. advocates and drive initiatives through, its very difficult though in the wrong structure. I still believe that a marketing function is the correct place, they have more passion in pushing the online perspective and have the contact / knowledge of the customers that are essential. Other functions just don't bring that to the table.

  40. 40
    Alan Green says

    In a company the goal for having a website is to generate leads.
    Hence marketing should own the website.

  41. 41

    Love how you talk about the integration of analytics into organizations… sometimes its tough to get everyone on board!

  42. 42

    Great insights. I always felt that Marketing is the future wife for Web Analytics :-) and this post reenforced my thinking. I love the hybrid approach since that is exactly what I am proposing and working on currently.

  43. 43
    Sandy McConnell says

    Hello Avinash – a quick question for you – did you ever write the post that covered the paragraph –

    There is a way to structure the leadership of the organizations, there is a way to align incentives and bonuses, there is a specific method to picking the skills required in each part, there is a perfect time to create such a centralized-decentralized organization. But that's for another post.

    • 44

      Sandy: I'm sorry but I've not had time to write about it here. But I did cover this topic in Ch 14, page 440, in my second book (Web Analytics 2.0). If you have a copy please check out that section.

      One of these days I hope to write something on the blog as well. There have been too many other juicy topics to cover. :)



  1. Tweets that mention Who Owns Web Analytics? A Framework For Critical Thinking. | Occam's Razor by Avinash Kaushik -- Topsy.com says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sal Partovi and ode, Morgan Vichard. Morgan Vichard said: Great Avinash post: Who Owns Web Analytics? A Framework For Critical Thinking. http://bit.ly/5SDxkQ #measure […]

  2. […] Who Owns Web Analytics? A Framework For Critical Thinking, Avinash Kaushik […]

  3. […] Who Owns Web Analytics? A Framework For Critical Thinking. (Occam's Razor) […]

  4. […]
    The mid-level users that need the intel are left saying WTF? That is an old management pattern but seeing it happen hurts my insides because the opportunity is really amazing but is being fumbled so badly. Creating a data-driven culture has to start with the analysts. Hopefully they know what to ask for.

  5. […] Who Owns Web Analytics? A Framework For Critical Thinking. Avinash waxes philosophical and discusses the ownership issue. […]

  6. free sea » 网络 says:

    […] 这幅图转载自Centralized? Decentralized? Something else? 就觉得这张图很好的表达了对网络的看法,于是拿来分享下。 by admin | Posted in 三分钟 | No Comments » | 评论 (0) […]

  7. […]
    However, IBM’s purchase of Coremetrics and Unica was more intuitively obvious. Unica provides a robust web analytics tool that can populate a database and be queried using a browser-based interface, which led many people to ask: will web analytics become just another team inside business intelligence departments? That is a plausible option, as the web is just another source of data.

    These changes are reshaping the way web analysts are seen in organizations too, and also to whom they report. Google’s analytics guru Avinash Kaushik discusses this in depth in his post Who owns web analytics? and proposes a framework that helps organizations to decide where web analytics should sit based on their maturity level.

  8. […]
    The Bienalto survey revealed that in only 20% of companies does the web analytics group reside in Marketing. Web analytics resides with the Web Team in 40% of companies and in other groups in the remaining 40%. If Web Analytics was a part of Marketing in more organizations, they might have more success when they try to take action based on analytics results. Certainly that is the argument that Kaushik makes in an article on who owns web analytics:

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