Eric T Peterson – a veteran of the web analytics business, Principal Consultant at Web Analytics Demystified and author some of must read books on Web Analytics – has published a report on what he sees as the current revolution in Web Analytics.

This report focuses on the needs for businesses to not just create reports but to develop insights and recommendations from the data – something that when I am talking about web engagement I have referred to as ‘actionable insight’ and it’s about more than pretty graphs.

Peterson also discusses the data that organisations are capturing and reporting on, the wealth of data available to organizations, from web analytics, to credit card transactions to observations about location – GPS data. He also covers the privacy issues wrapped around that – that people will give up their data, but it has to be in exchange for something valuable to them.

I like Peterson’s analogy of it being like money – the difference between using the money you have and just storing it – in terms of the potential rewards. As the report says:

If today’s business leaders want to take advantage of this treasure trove of intelligence about customers and prospects, a new approach is required. First and second?generation analytic vendors are good at what they do, but mining for correlation and causation within massive, disparate online and offline data sets is simply not what they do. To take the next step, business owners need to explicitly recognize the inherent limitations in these systems and augment them with appropriate systems that are built to extract, transform, load and analyze data regardless of the source.

With certain symmetry with our own Customer Engagement vision, he refers to a third generation of analysis tools that are bringing this together – that companies who treat offline and online as separate data silos will concede ground to their competition that look at this more holistically across their enterprise.

As the report concludes:

The only thing worse than not having data, is having data and not being able to use it.

You can read more about what Peterson has to say or download a copy of the report here.