Dr Charlotte Middleton is an integrative Medical Practitioner who is out to educate that health is about your overall lifestyle choices. Dr Charlotte Middleton, Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (BMBS), Diploma in Child Health (Dip CH) is an Integrative Medical Practitioner specialising in Maternity, Pediatric, Nutritional and Environmental Medicine. Graduating in 1997, Dr Charlotte has worked in Neonatal, Pediatric and Maternity Health in various hospitals around Australia.
Her natural presenting skills have seen her share her knowledge as the medical expert on Foxtel’s ‘The Little Things’ hosted by Antonia Kidman, and indulge her on-screen passions by developing and presenting many medical educational, corporate and promotional videos. If you see a data puke then you know you are looking at the result of web reporting, even if it is called a dashboard.
If you see words in English outlining actions that need to be taken, and below the fold you see relevant supporting data, then you are looking at the result of web data analysis. The thankless job of web reporting, illustrated vividly above, is to punt the part of interpreting the data, understanding the context and identifying actions to the recipient of the data puke. If that is your role, then the best you can do is make sure you have take the right screenshots out of Site Catalyst or Google Analytics, or charge an extra $15 an hour and dump the data into Excel and add a color to the table header. The job of web analysis mandates a good understanding of the business priorities, creation of the right custom reports, application of hyper-relevant advanced segments to that data and, finally and most importantly, presentation of your insights and recommended action using the locally spoken language. When you look to check if you are looking at analysis or reporting look for Insights, Actions, Impact on Company. Another example that I particularly like, both for the style of presentation and how rare it is in our world of web analytics. Analysts constantly complain that no one follows any of their data-based recommendations.  How do you expose your hard work? Diana has loads of observations, supported by visuals (sometimes it really helps to show the search results or the emails or the Facebook ad) with highlights (actually lowlights) in red, and finally recommendations. In the same vein not every output that is chock full of numbers in five size font, with pies and tables stuffed in for good measure, is a representation of web reporting. Let's make sure this horse is really and truly dead by summarizing the lessons above and using a set of signs that might indicate that you are looking at web analysis.
In the list above, and in the examples in this post, you see my clear, and perhaps egregious bias for business analysis and business outcomes and business actions and working with many parts of the business and business context. I hope you've had some fun learning how to distinguish between web reporting and web analysis. How would you answer the question about the difference between web reporting and web analysis?
I am constantly looking for new ways to slice and dice client data to get at actionable insights but I don't always present it in a way that the action steps are obvious. This gives me some ideas about how to better present my findings and drive real business outcomes ($$$). When teaching the difference to my team, I've found the best method is to start with the report and then layer questions on top of it that will force them to analyze. 2) If your data warehouse team says they can automate it for you, then it's definitely not analysis.
Part of our delivery model, reporting-wise, is to never deliver emailed reports, unless they are directly accompanied by a real-time conversation (call, meeting). For your top 10 signs that you are doing analysis, I might add a listing of the previous recommended actions – which ones were acted on, and which ones are just another long to do list?
Example: putting in COGS data into Omniture & comparing Adwords campaigns segmented by specific products, or maybe pairing NEW visits to Uniques and then segmenting by marketing channel in GA?
Thank you for the incredibly timely (and as always, useful) reminder that data puking is not analysis.
Gary: I can confirm that the approach you are taking is highly unusual, and totally awesome!
But if the consultant is good, even decently so, they'll of course realize that there is a lot more money to be made in providing analysis that drives change. Grant: Fabulous point about having to be creative and then crafting a solution that is unique to each business. This is great idea to present reports, one of the challenges is to translate the puke of data into what the CEO's is really interested in, and assist him into steer in the right direction. I think that it's important that when you make recommendations that you identify what you expect to happen if your recommendations are implemented as a result. Side question…do you have any favorite resources to help support people becoming better analysts? Sending web reports means the recipient has to do something with the data, get overwhelmed and not do anything with it.

The one thing I find it hard to understand a lot of times is the fact that reporting and analysis is so much misunderstood.
Alice Cooper: A list of my top ten fav blogs are on the home page right nav (towards the bottom). But overall it just takes constantly being in a receptive business environment and applying a structured thinking to existing solutions that leads to becoming a better Analyst.
I like words more than numbers- words about numbers I can live with:) Much better than scary Excel sheets! I can say, web analysis is the process of understanding the various activities like traffic, user activities etc. Reporting provide the data for analytics, analytics predicts possible ways to achieve site goals. Analysis is subjective: at its best, reveals connections, strengths, weaknesses otherwise unknown.
This third level is true consultancy, where the researcher is almost acting as a decision-making partner. Adam: Thanks for adding this to the thread, it is a wonderful way of framing the difference. While I don't disagree with you, the tone of the post seems to be underplaying the role of web reporting vis a vis the analysis. Also many times, good reporting creates new insights and spurs analysts to think along a new line that they haven't thought before. It talks about how we try to separate things in small pieces, like engines of a clock in order to understand it. And then, after a while, things start not being so fresh anymore, but we carry on by strength of habit, and one struggles to fill the comment box next to the chart that was once lovely. My view on that is that there are ways to make reporting exciting again – in a way, and to carry on with the marriage theme, you can spice up your reporting! The other thing, is that Analysts will live and die by their ability to influence, and reporting is an important tool for that, as it is a point of contact with stakeholders – so not neglecting it and putting some care into it often pays. I recommend to you Omniture Site Catalyst, which comes out of the box with a variety of pre-built actionnable reports and segments, which will allow your business stakeholders to make informed decisions. Her professional achievements are equally matched by her natural charm, making her a wonderful communicator with an extraordinary bedside manner that resonates as well on-screen as it does off-screen. A medical educator throughout her career, she has created a series of 7 highly regarded and sought after maternity educational DVDs on common post-natal issues, which are already used with great success in all Ramsay Health Hospital Maternity Units and by parent educators Australia-wide.
The end result is faster customer service response times, more personalized service, and reduced cost. It's a different job, requires different work, and of course radically different skills. In a garish Las Vegas show girl fashion where all the "data plumes" are, unsexily in this case, hanging off the body? In this case, the search improvements are tied to the increase in donations I can make because of sales of my book. It is hard to find the exceptions to this rule, but I have seen at least two in nine years. When I see Economic Value I feel a bit more confident that I am looking at the result of analysis. In the same vein, if you see references to the Web Analytics Measurement Model (or better still, see it in its entirety on one slide up front), then you know that the Ninja did some analysis.
Any application of algorithmic intelligence, weighted sort, expected range for metric values (control limits), or anything that even remotely smells of ever so slightly advanced statistics is a good sign. If there is even a hint of the impact of actions being recommended then I know that is analysis. If you see more than three metrics in a table you are presented with then you might not be looking at analysis. But I've always believed that if you and I can't have an impact then why are we doing what we do?
Fearing a now non-existent red pen, I still find myself using this phrase in my analytics reports nearly a decade later.
When we do make insightful discoveries – make sure to leave the egos out of the office. Its often hard to distinguish the two until you are faced with a large amount of data puke.
Most of our clients have direct access to their own analytics, so they can go print ad hoc reports whenever they choose to.

The master Avinash showed us the door, the real work is for us to understand the business needs and priority, and create your own solution that best help your organization. But I think there are a lot of automated reports that can prove VERY useful in generating insights – after you do the leg work to make them useful. But because doing the latter is harder to do, consultants are happier making $50 an hour when they could do 3x the amount of work but charge 5x of $50! Even for two companies that are in the same business, solutions for analysis are typically radically different. If you can automate it then it is probably a very good report, but it can't be analysis.
But then you (Analyst) needs to start their work and present the analysis, perhaps in one of the formats in the blog post. That has some tips (in the same spirit as your comment) to make that key shift in behavior of our leaders. You have to get them to a point, gently, where they want to have analysis (so much that they demand it!).
As you have beautifully demonstrated, using hits no less (!!), words can be very effectively used as data pukes! At least a few focused relevant customized reports are probably a key input into the analytical process. Is your job to give someone data who can then interpret it and find insights and make decisions, or is it your job to provide the decisions data supports. I would disagree with your definition of Reporting, but I am happy that your focus is also on analysis. Remember that without the reporting and the data in the first place, you would not have any analysis. But, in most cases, things are better seen as if they are connected to other things, not like they are made of small things. We make things very complex, dissecating every part of them, but sometimes the answer is seen if you take a step back and look at the big picture. What I'm looking for as a beginner, is an excel template of such a dashboard that I can plug in data from google analytics, instantly create actionable data that can be presented to the company. She also works part-time in General Practice, continuing her work in Women and Children’s health with a focus on Nutritional and Environmental research and practice. That is super important because it gives the recipients exposure to the hard work that you have done and in a very quiet ways increases their confidence in your work.
It is hard to say: I am recommending that we shift this cluster of brand keywords to broad match.
Your peers may hate that you are criticizing their work, but they will respect you in the long run for approaching them instead of their superiors. I struggle with this dedication to context in our business model – but I think your point reassures me to hold fast to this principle. This perhaps comes from a fear that if the client will self help with the reporting part than that they won't need the consultant.
This is always tough for that ninja inside of us that is trying to slice his way out into the forefront. Each step useless without other: with bad reports analytic recommendations will be wrong, weak implementation lead to stats decrease etc. The second level will involve making some interpretation of these facts and some recommendations. I would still recommend looking below the surface to ensure that they are not just data pukes, but the good thing is these are smarter metrics.
Any machine (or automaton) can give us numbers, and anyone with a keyboard can write numbers into a bulleted list, but doesn't the real value come from applying context?
You will have to use your judgement as far as timing on introducing your analysis into your reporting.
A third level will go beyond the data, possibly by incorporating knowledge found elsewhere, and will speculate or make predictions about what a future state may be.

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