Posted by KeithMacDonald
August 7, 2012
The analytics tool space has been hugely competitive over the last few years:
The result of this competitive pressure has been two-fold:
It’s this last point about User Experience which brings us back to the question. I’d reframe it slightly:
Why do people not like using SiteCatalyst compared to other tools (in particular Google Analytics)?
Evan LaPointe and Adam Greco posted eloquent responses to the question, pointing out that SiteCatalyst is a sophisticated tool with a learning curve (it requires some level of training to understand). Evan notes specifically that:
While the above is all true, I take a slightly different view.
To build a really good user experience with SiteCatalyst, three components have to be rock solid and working in concert: implementation (technical), implementation (business objectives) and end-user understanding.
As Evan noted, getting the technical implementation right is already tricky enough. There’s a whole industry (tag management and monitoring) which has sprung up around this component alone.
In my experience, good technical implementations are often done by developers with little or no connection to the business objectives:
Failure in implementation (business objectives) resulting from that disconnect is also the responsibility of business stakeholders. In my experience, business stakeholders who are new to analytics (let alone any specific tool) don’t understand the potential analytics brings to the table and so don’t know what to ask for from the technical implementation.
And it’s not enough to get off to a good start – the implementation (both technical and business objectives) must be maintained. I’ve seen many a good implementation turn ugly because business objectives changed, new features were added (and not tagged properly, if at all) and staff churned, all while the analytics stayed the same.
End-user training is what really binds everything together. Since SiteCatalyst is infinitely customisable, there is no out-of-the-box interpretation of the data (unlike Google Analytics, which is one-size-fits-no-one). Reports, particularly the custom insight variables, differ from implementation to implementation.
Even a first-class technical implementation, finely tuned to business objectives, is of limited value unless users understand how the data connects back to those business objectives (where and how to find answers in SiteCatalyst to their questions).
Failing to be able to answer business questions is the result of little or no investment in training, poor customisation of the user interface and a disconnect between end users and resources who are responsible for the technical implementation.
The beauty of SiteCatalyst is that it’s infinitely customisable. The Achilles Heel of SiteCatalyst is that it’s infinitely customisable.
Master the three parts, however, (technical implementation, business implementation and end-user training) and SiteCatalyst is hands down far and away beyond what the competition offers.
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