September 20, 2006, 12:00 AM

Retailers underestimate resources needed to set up web analytics program

Many online retailers underestimate the amount of time and effort needed to set up and run a web analytics program, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

 

Many online retailers underestimate the amount of time and effort needed to set up and run a web analytics program, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

Retailers often think that implementing an analytics program entails just tagging every page on the site and waiting to see numbers “pop out” at the other end, Forrester says. But unless internal stakeholders-an executive sponsor, a program manager, business analysts, IT staff and testing resources-participate, the implementation projects are almost guaranteed to fail.

Forrester also found that testing-validating that the right requirements were implemented and verifying that the implementation produces accurate data-was one of the most frequently missed costs of web analytics. A 2005 Forrester survey of web analytics professionals showed that 14% of respondents did no acceptance testing whatsoever.

Managers also underestimated the costs of maintaining the web analytics tools and of driving adoption, including the need for new business processes and people to manage them. One manager reported devoting more than 140 person hours to training as part of his initial rollout, Forrester says.

The failure to allocate key resources to testing, maintenance and training endangers the success of the process, resulting in bad business decisions based on inaccurate analytic data, higher overall costs, and missed opportunities for ad hoc analysis and A/B test design, according to Forrester.

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