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Leave Robot Work to the Robots

Leave Robot Work to the Robots

June Dershewitz is Vice President of Analytics at Semphonic. The other day she posted a brief piece on the Web Analytics Association website entitled, “Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started in Web Analytics.” It is humorous, in part, but also contains some useful tips for folks just embarking on a career in this emerging field.

While I like the fact that she cautions against becoming a “report monkey” – hence her advice to leave the robot work, like automated report generation, to the robots – and recommends that you be prepared to discuss what you do in concise terms, she really got me thinking about the unique pressure experienced by web analytic folk given that, as she points out, they “sit between the techies and the marketers.”

June says you should, “make friends on both sides of the fence.” The obvious implication is that there are significant differences between the marketers and the techies, the former focused on consumers, products, and revenue, the latter focused on systems, functions, and users; the former tending to be qualitative, the latter quantitative, etc. While some of these differences are undeniably “real,” I think It’s fortuitous that June uses the metaphor of a “fence,” as opposed to a “wall” or a “chasm,” because I believe that whatever divides marketers and techies has become increasingly porous and ultimately temporary (like a hastily erected chain-line fence around a construction site).

On the one hand, as more and more marketing (or marcom) activity migrates to the interweb, marketers need to develop technical chops; I’ve had to learn HTML, get intimate with Google analytics, figure out how to edit and upload podcasts, etc. On the other hand, the techies have had to become more business focused, thinking in terms of user experience, the voice of the customer, and even ROI (or ROT, if you’d like). Aside from this kind of functional crossover, we’re even seeing a breakdown of barriers at the organizational level. For example, I know of at least one company where the CIO has been called upon to manage the marketing department with an eye towards process improvement and structural rationalization.

In brief, it seems to me that web analysts not only sit in between the marketers and the techies, they also happen to sit at the spot where marketing and IT most obviously converge and in this way, to leave the spatial metaphors behind, actually sit in the future of both specialties.


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