Get your time back.

Automation is a buzz word in the Big Data world. We consider it a key piece of most client proposals around optimization and advanced analytics. Automating the collection and analysis of web analytics data can free up valuable resources (analysts’ time) so that they can spend their time understanding trends and diving into hard hitting insights that can be used to take action and improve your website. Ideally, analysts should spend no more than 25% of their time collecting data, leaving 75% to tackle harder questions and interpret results.

“Every hour you invest into automation could be five hours of work you free up for yourself or other teammates (for every instance a report needs to be created).”

There are probably some very legitimate reasons why data collection can take up the majority of your analysts’ time. Below are some key root causes.

1. Lots of reports that may or may not be providing value
2. Incoming data from different sources
3. Incoming data in complex data formats
4. Analysts may not have the resources to accomplish analysis quickly and easily

The reasons for increased time spent in data collection can be analyzed for efficiency improvements but the most important question you will ask is, “Where do I start? The following steps should provide a baseline for starting to free up analyst time and reallocate it to discovering valuable insights.

Step 1: Develop a List of All Reports and Determine their Value
The first step in tackling automation is to identify reports that are not valuable to your organization. Chances are there are many reports that were once relevant when they were created have since become less valuable due to other reporting, analysis, or a change in business priorities. There might be other reports you produce that are just not used as much as you anticipated.

Therefore, it is extremely important to talk to the recipients of your reports to identify the value of the analyses. You may find that their requirements have changed or that they really do not need the report anymore. At the end of the day, you want to make sure the time you spend on analytics is time spent adding value to the organization. It’s time to trim the fat.

One of the key questions to ask is – what actions do you take with the information in the report that I send you? If they can’t answer that question, it’s time to dig in. Many stakeholders will want to “hold on” to the reports that you are sending as a security blanket, in case they need a data point. Assure them that by working together you can provide much more interesting insights and data for any critical discussions or decisions, but that the current report clearly isn’t useful.

Step 2: Automate a Simple Report First
Now that you have a list of reports and analyses that are valuable to your organization, pick one out that takes maybe 3-5 hours to develop. I would start with a web analytics report that could be automated using ReportBuilder. This is a relatively easy type of report to automate and the return on your investment should be high.

Assuming this is a monthly report, the potential savings is 60 hours a year. That’s a full week and a half of time that is now free for deeper analysis and new, creative problem solving.

Step 3: Continue to Automate Similar Reports
Now we’re getting somewhere. We already saved $3000 (60 hours * $50/hour) and we’re on our way to save a lot more once we automate all of our web analytics reports.

Numeric has demonstrated this exact process with numerous clients where our automation efforts saved not only time that equaled real money, but allowed for an equally important phenomenon – giving analysts the time and space in their day to uncover real insights in the data. Keep the ball rolling and start building a culture that relies on looking into data for insights rather than populating numbers on a dashboard.

Step 4: Understand the Challenges to Automate Complex Reports
So all of your web analytics reporting is now automated. But what about that report that integrated web analytics data with backend eCommerce data? Can that be automated? What if the eCommerce data is manually sent? What can be done then?
Congratulations, you are now entering the world of more complex automation of marketing analytics. Here it is important to understand what is getting in the way of your automation efforts. Is it that data is being manually collected? Is it the complexity of merging disparate data sources? It could be a lot of things but it is important to identify the specific road blocks when determining what is next.
Numeric Analytics provides many services that can help you move towards automating even more of your analytics. In fact, you would find that we’re really good at providing new methods to consume your data as well.

Numeric Service Offerings:
Advanced Reporting and Data Visualization when you want to move beyond simple reporting tools and start to combine multiple data sources to communicate deeper and more compelling insights
Report Automation and Distribution when you want to reduce manual efforts and begin to create and deliver insights automatically
Custom KPIs and Metrics when you need to measure and report on data that is unique to your business
Data Curation and ETL when you need to get ready for advanced analytics by preparing raw data for the deeper dives that data visualization and complex query tools enable
Insights and Storytelling when you want an external expert to take a look at your data and bring another set of eyes to it and help communicate what it means to the business

Even if the whole process cannot be automated, there is probably a lot that can be done to streamline your analytics process which will save you money and more importantly your time. If you would like to know if Numeric can help you move forward with marketing automation and/or data visualization then please give us a call or send an email: This is our passion and we’d love to have a conversation to steer you in the right direction.

Join the discussion One Comment

Leave a Reply