Friday, July 2, 2010

The Russian spy ring - an analytical parallel

The recent unearthing of a Russian spy ring working in the United States and the facts uncovered about how its members operated made me think of a couple of parallels with the last post about the public's perception of the secretive world of tracking.

On first impressions one would assume that a spy ring working undercover would be run efficiently, gathering a lot of valuable information, and providing critical insight to the spy-master. However, in this case it soon transpired that the spy ring was actually struggling to function, having issues with both technology and communication. The parallels with some (not all!) company analytics functions are quite clear. Perceived by the general public as an all-knowing collection of spooks, in fact some companies are quite disorganised, struggling to determine what insight their managers need, let alone deliver it. Communication and technology issues can quickly get in the way of extracting clean data from which analysis can provide the necessary insight.

Many of the spy ring's issues centred around a desire amongst some for a return to the "good old days" when things were simpler, be it hiding packages in the ground under bottle tops, or using maps with stamps on. Similarly, there is still a reluctance among many companies to fully embrace digital analytics, with concerns about both the quantity and quality of data, or a timidity around entering the social media arena, let alone measuring it.

As I mentioned in the previous post, we can help ourselves by becoming more transparent and making our case more clearly. But having a better understanding around tracking with the visitors to our sites counts for nothing if we're not organised and brave enough to deliver the insight to drive the change the visitors need.

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