Thinking that web reporting and web analysis are synonymous is incorrect. While related, they are as different as apples and oranges. Not understanding the difference could cause your organization to sell itself short. Many companies and organizations invest a lot of time and money into web analytics. While reporting is important, web analysis provides the greatest benefit to your organization. I will discuss the difference between web reporting and web analysis to explain why web analysis is so valuable.
Web reporting is the “process of organizing data into informational summaries in order to monitor how different areas of a business are performing1.” Web reporting is produced by tools like Google Analytics. It is backwards looking and requires no action2. Therefore, not every word or number you receive from your analyst is web analysis3. A lot of the information you receive may be reporting.
Don’t get me wrong, reporting can be a great tool. Reporting helps companies monitor their business online. “Good reporting should raise questions about the business from its end users4.”
Web analysis is the “process of exploring data and reports in order to extract meaningful insights, which can be used to better understand and improve business performance1.” Analytic tools are helpful but they still cannot replace people. Web analysis comes from the expertise of people making sense of the data that comes from web reporting. It is about knowing why something works (or doesn’t work); “
“Analysis transforms data and information into insights. The goal of analysis is to answer questions by interpreting the data at a deeper level and providing actionable recommendations. Through the process of performing analysis you may raise additional questions, but the goal is to identify answers, or at least potential answers that can be tested. In summary, reporting shows you what is happening while analysis focuses on explaining why it is happening and what you can do about it4.”
Look at the reports you receive from your web analyst. Do they include web analysis? Do they give recommendations? Or do they spew data and information which is difficult to understand? Many companies and organizations get a lot of web reporting. There is a greater need for web analysis to move the company forward.