KAIZEN Analytics: A journey into Web analytics (Part IV): Web analytics, a new profession?

The main traits of a Web Analytics specialist
What are the key skills? If you want to lure into the realm of Web Analytics and make it not just an activity but a real full-time job, a good mix of the following skills you will need:

  • A good technical background: While it is not necessary to be a Web developer, you need to be technically savvy and have a good knowledge about the Web and related technologies (HTML, Flash, Javascript). You need to understand how the Web and online measurement tools work, what are the technical constraints and limitations, impacts on the data, etc. And because you are likely to be in contact with developers, agencies and technical staff at some points, mastering a minimum of technical language is essential.
  • Business-minded: To be honest, that’s the side of the job I prefer. While online analytics rely on technologies, it first serves a business purpose. Your primary goal is to help business being successful – not to deploy state-of-the-art technologies and gadgets. Good Web analysts have a strong interest in the business aspects and objectives. You can’t do this in you don’t dive into the business world, learn to think and act in a business-oriented way.
  • Strong communication skills: This is critical as you will spend a lot of your time conveying messages to different types of audience. You need to be able to explain in simple ways sometimes complex concepts and information. You need to remove complexity from the measured data, to turn this data into business insights and recommendations. You will be the interface between two worlds and you will need to translate business requirements into technical terms and vice-versa.
  • Diplomacy & psychology: These come with the communication skills. Political aspects in organizations are important and online analytics is no exception – especially when facing HiPPO’s (Highest Paid Person Opinions). You will have to be careful in the way you communicate – making sure you don’t offend anyone while keeping moving forward. Not everyone is prepared to know the truth about their online business (what I called the “Ignorance is bliss” syndrome). Add to that the fact that IT and business rarely have a love relation and you will get a good understanding of why diplomacy is required.
  • Analytics notions: You will juggle with data almost everyday therefore having a good grasp of basic statistic notions is important. These are important when analysing results, calculating sample sizes for tests or surveys, when evaluating the confidence level (how far can you trust your data?)… While it may be not required to be statistician – in some cases, advanced analytics skills may be more than just an asset.
  • Patience & perseverance, curiosity and more: Web analytics is a long journey as explained in previous parts of the series and it often takes a lot of patience and perseverance. It is still quite young and constantly evolving with the web (i.e. fast) – just look at the development of mobile or social media. You will not have to be afraid of changes and remain curious about new technologies, new practices, and new challenges.

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