Programming and Web Analysts

Now that Omniture has APIs and WebTrends is doing more sophisticated things with their tools that have ODBC connections, I was thinking, should we Web analysts consider adding to our skill set? Primarily, should we begin to add programming abilities to our skill set? Things like APIs are great, but only if you have the ability to create applications that access these APIs. Should we Web analysts start learning languages like PHP, SOAP and XML so that we can create our own applications?

Also, most popular Web analytics technologies are based upon JavaScript (from the implementation side anyway). So, a better understanding of JavaScript would most likely benefit us all. A better understanding of JavaScript alone could open some doors for better Web analytics opportunities for those not already proficient with JavaScript.

I think that we Web analysts should be immersing ourselves in programming so that we become more than just analysts and the users of tools like Omniture, GA, WebTrends, etc. I for one will be trying to pick up the following skills in 2009:

  • PHP/SOAP – for the purpose of programming with Web APIs and creating new applications for analytics and online marketing
  • JavaScript – I’m already decent with JS, but would like to be able to do some more advanced things for analytics
  • SQL/MySQL – for the purpose of querying Oracle, SQL and MySQL databases

Are their any other skills that you think would benefit Web analysts? What additional skills are you trying to pick up on your own this next year?

4 thoughts on “Programming and Web Analysts

  1. Hi Jason,

    I sure would love to have those skills, but let’s not forget that this is in case one wants to add a very technical vector to one’s competence.

    There are also opportunities on the business side. In my case, I am getting skills on the BI side of things (let us know if you find great SQL/MySQL resources), statistics, data modelling, etc.

  2. Very good points, Jacques. As I see it in terms of my own career, the additional technical competencies would be the best additions to my own skill set.

    You may also not need to worry about the technical side if you work in a place where you would have the resources to create custom applications around BI and analytics data. It seems that in most places I have worked, there is usually not a lot of time available from programmers to create these applications for me.

  3. Hi Jason,

    Yes, sure, technical skills are important, but I come from marketing; in the last 6 years as a full-time web analytics consultant, I have had to acquire technical skills, but I would say that analytical ones are more important in my case.

    However, I can certainly appreciate being able to develop applications by oneself whever the need arises.

  4. In this Web 2.0 era, JavaScript alone isn’t enough. I would recommend learning AJAX simultaneous to brushing up on JavaScript.

    The nature of many Web 2.0 applications now using technologies like AJAX means your detectable clicks and page views for analytic purposes are going to drop even though data is changing hands.

    An understanding of the AJAX protocols goes a long way to understanding the new Web 2.0 buzz about events and time spent on a particular aspect of a site rather than hits, page views, click-thru etc

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