In my pre­vi­ous arti­cle, I dis­cussed how orga­ni­za­tions some­times focus too much on hav­ing the right “tools” and not enough on the peo­ple behind the tools. It’s a com­mon prob­lem among com­pa­nies striv­ing to become more pro­fi­cient in web ana­lyt­ics. It may appear as though just hav­ing the right tools in place will mag­i­cally lift an orga­ni­za­tion to data-driven great­ness. How­ever, just like in sports, hav­ing the right equip­ment is only part of the for­mula for suc­cess. For exam­ple, a well-tuned, technologically-advanced race car is use­less on the NASCAR cir­cuit with­out a skilled dri­ver, crew chief, and pit crew to get it across the fin­ish line.

One part of the “peo­ple invest­ment” is mak­ing sure that your orga­ni­za­tion has enough peo­ple cov­er­ing the var­i­ous posi­tions on the web ana­lyt­ics play­ing field (see Part I). The sec­ond part of the “peo­ple invest­ment” is to ensure peo­ple receive ade­quate train­ing to excel in their roles. Just hav­ing peo­ple stand­ing on the bases and out­field posi­tions does not mean they are ready to play ball. Hope­fully, each indi­vid­ual knows what to do when the ball comes to them and has been trained to per­form their role effectively.

Good to great — through training

In a For­tune arti­cle “Secrets of Great­ness”, Geof­frey Colvin revealed how nat­ural tal­ent was irrel­e­vant to great suc­cess. From Tiger Woods to War­ren Buf­fet, research showed the secret to their suc­cess came down to hard work and prac­tice — not some unfair nat­ural gifts. The arti­cle pointed out that if Michael Jor­dan were just born with super­hu­man bas­ket­ball skills, he wouldn’t have been cut from his high school team.  Just like high-profile ath­letes, the peo­ple fill­ing the var­i­ous web ana­lyt­ics posi­tions need to go through hours of train­ing to develop, main­tain, and hone their skills in order to be effec­tive in their roles and get the most out of the pro­vided tools. Kurt Schlegel at META Group stated, “While web ana­lyt­ics tech­nolo­gies can be quite easy to use, the extent of their poten­tial ben­e­fits is still not well-understood… Detailed train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties are essen­tial for get­ting the most busi­ness ben­e­fit from these solu­tions.”

Fos­ter­ing the user adop­tion of web ana­lyt­ics tools can be a crit­i­cal suc­cess fac­tor in cre­at­ing a data-driven orga­ni­za­tion. As more peo­ple share and lever­age the tools, a com­pany can derive more busi­ness value from its web ana­lyt­ics invest­ment. Per­sis­tent train­ing plays a key role in dri­ving user adop­tion. Paul Strupp at Sun Microsys­tems stated that “train­ing is not a zero-sum game”, and found that its value to the com­pany sig­nif­i­cantly out­weighed its costs. One impor­tant way to encour­age user adop­tion is to pro­vide ade­quate train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties at all lev­els within your organization.

The web ana­lyt­ics train­ing pyramid

All great ath­letes start by learn­ing the basics and then con­tinue train­ing to fur­ther hone their skills. The train­ing tri­an­gle below shows how dif­fer­ent indi­vid­u­als within your orga­ni­za­tion will need dif­fer­ent train­ing approaches. At the top of this pyra­mid, you focus on advanc­ing the exper­tise of the company’s core team of web ana­lysts and tech­ni­cal staff. This select group of indi­vid­u­als will require more for­mal train­ing options such as Omni­ture cer­ti­fi­ca­tion courses. At the next level, you lever­age the for­mal train­ing and exper­tise of the core team to facil­i­tate inter­nal one-on-one train­ing for exec­u­tives and inter­nal work­shops for other key users. At the bot­tom of the pyra­mid, the large com­mu­nity of end users will lever­age more self-service options — both inter­nally pro­duced options as well as on-demand videos avail­able from Omniture.

It takes a village

In a recent con­ver­sa­tion with a web ana­lyst at a major insur­ance com­pany, the topic of web gov­er­nance came up and how “it takes a vil­lage” to estab­lish a data-driven cul­ture. An inter­nal web ana­lyt­ics com­mu­nity (i.e., vil­lage) can advance tool usage and adop­tion through­out the company.

Paul Strupp shared how per­sis­tent inter­nal train­ing helped to nur­ture a web ana­lyt­ics com­mu­nity at Sun Microsys­tems. Sun’s web ana­lyt­ics email dis­cus­sion list grew from ten peo­ple to more than one hun­dred peo­ple. Approx­i­mately half of the ques­tions are now answered by com­mu­nity mem­bers out­side of Strupp’s core team. In addi­tion, the sophis­ti­ca­tion of the ques­tions has evolved from “Page views or vis­its?” to “Why does my mar­ket­ing cam­paign show high soft­ware down­loads but low offline lead pipeline value?” Strupp iden­ti­fied one key ben­e­fit of devel­op­ing a web ana­lyt­ics “vil­lage” is that “it puts the ana­lyt­i­cal capa­bil­ity closer to the busi­ness rather than in a remote ‘report­ing’ group.” Enabling the peo­ple on the “front lines” to ana­lyze their part of the busi­ness and take action makes great busi­ness sense.

In my next blog post, I’ll be look­ing at the “rules” of the vil­lage or in other words how to estab­lish and main­tain cor­po­rate stan­dards.

4 comments
Brent Dykes
Brent Dykes

John, you're right. The goal of creating a data-driven organization is not to collect more data. It is to gather useful insights from the collected data and act on them. That may seem overly simplistic, but it is too often overlooked by organizations.

John Hunter
John Hunter

Management should be largely about managing people. Too often managers think their job is to manage spreadsheets and sit in meetings explaining results or talking about spreadsheets. Data is helpful but you need people to think about how to improve based on the data seen. And as you say, we need to invest in people and treat our organizations as systems of people - managing a human system is not the same as managing a computer system.

Brent Dykes
Brent Dykes

Kathleen, thanks for the feedback. I thought the Village People image would be fun. :)

Kathleen Hurley at Actio
Kathleen Hurley at Actio

I love your "it takes a village" photo -- now that's a good use of media to catch a reader's attention! Really, you guys do a great job. Keep it up, good things will come to you.