In every issue of Entrepreneur magazine, there is an article where two executives defend their view of some type of technology; they either can't live with it, or can't live without it. In the December issue, the debate is on Adobe® SiteCatalyst® Powered by Omniture®.
On the can't live with it side is a partner from the ZAC Digital Agency. His reasoning for his anti-SiteCatalyst view is that Google Analytics gives him the data he needs "without being drowned by a torrent of data". He argues that most people "don't need 90 percent of the power that it offers." He says that he could get the data from SiteCatalyst eventually, but it was a question of how much time it took to get there.
Valid points, perhaps. Let's take a look at the pro-SiteCatalyst side.
The CEO of Care2, uses SiteCatalyst in a different way. He has a dashboard set up that he checks many times a day. He uses this part of SiteCatalyst to monitor traffic patterns so he can see any spikes or dips. He utilizes the data to make actionable decisions. He likes the flexibility and amount of customization available in the tool. The CEO finds the tool so valuable that he has a dedicated employee (1 of 50) to manage the system. That employee works with the engineering team to implement the code as well as pull reports.
Can both views be correct?
Of course they can, and this case, they are. For the executive who can't live with it, he certainly doesn't have the time, nor resources, himself to do all the dirty work that goes along with such a powerful, and complex tool. So it's completely understandable that he doesn't like the tool. This executive needs to do what the CEO of Care2 did, and get some dedicated manpower for SiteCatalyst. He should be getting a feed of only the information he needs to make decisions for his clients, either via some dashboards, automated reports, or other reports created by analysts - not by him. He admits SiteCatalyst is a great service if you know how to use it. Right - hire someone who knows how to use it. That's not to say that every website needs a tool as robust as SiteCatalyst - that is not my point. I'm only saying that not knowing how to effeciently pull the data you need from a tool should not be a reason to not use a tool.
There is a 10/90 philosophy amongst many experts in the analytics field. It means you should spend 10% of your analytics budget on technology and 90% on staff and training for staff to use the tool properly.
No tool can do the work for you. A tool's purpose is merely to help you get a task done more efficiently than you would have without it. A hammer can't swing itself. Somebody's got to use manual labor. If you don't have time to swing that hammer to put in all the nails, it doesn't mean the hammer has issues. It does mean that you should hire a person who has a special set of skills who can help you.