We have the data. We have the pretty reports. But we do not have an educated team who can take the resulting statistics and turn them into meaningful plans. The process of creating Web strategy and executing on Web tactics has gone missing.

Besides being fun to say and a legitimate excuse for me to wear my "Mind The Gap" hat purchased the last time I was caught in the rain in Covent Garden, the “Feedback Loop Gap” is the most pernicious problem faced by those in large companies tasked with running large, sophisticated Web sites.

I don't for a minute discount the troubles and tribulations of those plagued by shrinking budgets, incredulous senior executives, or IT departments facing mergers and acquisitions.

I interviewed more than 50 Web executives for my book Web Metrics: Proven Methods for Measuring Web Site Success (John Wiley & Sons, 2002). From those interviews, I mapped out the process of how a large firm figures out whether their Web site is doing well, which changes are for the better, and which should be terminated with prejudice.

It all begins the day a business person stumbles upon a Web server log.

Your Web server generates a great deal of information. It creates logs. Mountains of data are collected in your server logs every day. The assumption is that this information is generated to help you determine how well you're doing.

Nice thought, but not the case.

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image of Jim Sterne

Jim Sterne (jsterne@targeting.com) is the founder and director of Target Marketing (www.targeting.com), founder of the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and the founding president and current chairman of the Web Analytics Association.