data_dynastyOver the years I’ve shared my thoughts on dig­i­tal gov­er­nance through var­i­ous blog posts and pre­sented on the topic mul­ti­ple times at Omni­ture and Adobe Sum­mits. I’ve dis­cov­ered that “gov­er­nance” is one of those loaded terms that can mean dif­fer­ent things to many peo­ple. In some regard, I think there might be a neg­a­tive halo effect asso­ci­ated with it due to a similar-looking but less pop­u­lar word … gov­ern­ment. Despite the six let­ters it shares, proper gov­er­nance can def­i­nitely have a pos­i­tive impact when it comes to run­ning web ana­lyt­ics pro­grams at mid-to-large companies.

I define dig­i­tal gov­er­nance as the over­sight of all the essen­tial orga­ni­za­tional fac­tors that con­tribute to the suc­cess of a data-driven, digital-focused orga­ni­za­tion. Although ana­lyt­ics tech­nolo­gies con­tinue to evolve and the vol­ume (and diver­sity) of data increases sig­nif­i­cantly each year, the fun­da­men­tals for estab­lish­ing a win­ning web ana­lyt­ics pro­gram haven’t changed. What you needed to be suc­cess­ful five years ago is the same as what you need in 2013 and beyond. There may be new approaches and con­sid­er­a­tions, but the fun­da­men­tals are timeless.

As a for­mer web ana­lyt­ics con­sul­tant who worked with large, multi­na­tional com­pa­nies across a vari­ety of dif­fer­ent indus­tries, I’ve seen the same set of chal­lenges and mis­takes re-appear over and over. That’s one of the unique ben­e­fits to being a con­sul­tant; you can step back and observe pat­terns across mul­ti­ple firms that you could miss if you only observed your own com­pany in action. How­ever, see­ing the same errors being repeated over and over can be a frus­trat­ing expe­ri­ence, espe­cially when you know most of these busi­nesses are invest­ing heav­ily in dig­i­tal and want to be suc­cess­ful with analytics.

bandaid_solutionIn order to help more com­pa­nies over­come the chal­lenges of estab­lish­ing an effec­tive dig­i­tal ana­lyt­ics pro­gram, I iden­ti­fied a num­ber of best prac­tices that our con­sult­ing team had seen work at dif­fer­ent orga­ni­za­tions. How­ever, I soon dis­cov­ered the best prac­tices were merely band-aid solu­tions unless the under­ly­ing root prob­lems were addressed. What was really needed were some guid­ing prin­ci­ples or a frame­work for under­stand­ing what was caus­ing oth­er­wise suc­cess­ful orga­ni­za­tions to strug­gle or fail when it came to ana­lyt­ics. While some of the exist­ing web ana­lyt­ics matu­rity mod­els were help­ful, I still felt as though some key con­sid­er­a­tions were miss­ing, under-emphasized, or misrepresented.

I set out to develop a new dig­i­tal gov­er­nance frame­work and matu­rity model that would offer an alter­na­tive per­spec­tive on the topic. As I was work­ing on the new frame­work, I found a lot of the issues I encoun­tered at dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies were often inter­con­nected and mul­ti­fac­eted. How­ever, in time I was able to untan­gle and orga­nize the crit­i­cal ele­ments into six key focus areas for build­ing a suc­cess­ful data-driven organization:

  • LEADERSHIP: Guid­ance and spon­sor­ship from com­pany lead­ers helps dig­i­tal ana­lyt­ics to pros­per within your company.
  • STRATEGY: A clear dig­i­tal strat­egy enables your dig­i­tal ana­lyt­ics group to align its mea­sure­ment activ­i­ties to the key pri­or­i­ties of your busi­ness and thrive as an inte­gral part of your organization.
  • PEOPLE: Hav­ing the right tal­ent and suf­fi­cient resources on your dig­i­tal ana­lyt­ics team is cru­cial to your long-term, data-driven success.
  • PROCESS: To have an effec­tive dig­i­tal ana­lyt­ics pro­gram, it is impor­tant to develop inter­nal best prac­tices and well-defined processes.
  • TECHNOLOGY: The right tech­nol­ogy plays a cen­tral role in fos­ter­ing a data-driven organization.
  • ORGANIZATIONAL DYNAMICS: Dif­fer­ent inter­nal fac­tors can­not be ignored when try­ing to cul­ti­vate a data-driven culture.


You prob­a­bly noticed the famil­iar Peo­ple, Process, and Tech­nol­ogy mantra among the six fac­tors. I’ve expanded it to include three other influ­en­tial fac­tors–Lead­er­ship, Strat­egy, and Orga­ni­za­tional Dynam­ics–that can make or break your organization’s suc­cess with ana­lyt­ics. Each of these main cat­e­gories can be fur­ther bro­ken down into sev­eral key sub-elements, and that’s where you begin to see sub­tle dif­fer­ences between this frame­work and other matu­rity models.

As an exam­ple, the PEOPLE cat­e­gory has four sub­ar­eas:  Resources (types of staff required, roles and respon­si­bil­i­ties, etc.), Exper­tise (skills and knowl­edge require­ments, train­ing approach, etc.), Struc­ture (team orga­ni­za­tion, own­er­ship, etc.), and Com­mu­nity (inter­nal sup­port, best prac­tice shar­ing, etc.). With the help of these sub-areas within the dig­i­tal gov­er­nance frame­work, you can pin­point spe­cific gaps or weak areas that need atten­tion at your company.

After pre­sent­ing these new con­cepts at the Adobe Sum­mit for the past two years, I want to share this infor­ma­tion more broadly with other dig­i­tal ana­lyt­ics prac­ti­tion­ers and data-driven exec­u­tives. You can now you can down­load a free copy of a 15-page whitepa­per on this new dig­i­tal gov­er­nance frame­work and matu­rity model. It takes an in-depth look at the dif­fer­ent fac­tors and sub-factors that are the build­ing blocks of a best-in-class dig­i­tal ana­lyt­ics pro­gram. If you’re a sports fan, I com­pare the par­al­lels of build­ing a cham­pi­onship team dynasty to that of cre­at­ing a data-driven dynasty (if you’re not a sports fan, don’t worry—I don’t go too over­board on the sports analo­gies). My hope is that your com­pany can use this new whitepa­per as a strate­gic guide for gen­er­at­ing an even bet­ter return on your dig­i­tal ana­lyt­ics invest­ments. Game on!


This is a good high level post and PDF on digital analytics governance.

Governance is still undervalued and needs more attention. It doesn't have the shiny ball glamour but it is a foundational element to success. Without it the shiny ball initiatives will continue to fall short of hype and expectations.