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Metrics On a ‘Need to Know’ Basis

by Jim Sterne  |  
July 15, 2003

"We have too much technology."

That statement, proclaimed at the Emetrics Summit 2003, in Santa Barbara, was in direct response to the ubiquitous, "We have too much data."

We now know more than we can understand. We know more than we can assimilate. It seems that the more facts we amass, the less meaning we can derive, and the less actionable decisions we can make. It seems to merely mimic the human condition that we know what is, but we know not why.

This was struck home at the Emetrics Summit when Gary Beberman, director of technical research at, spoke to the Web analytics-savvy audience about business-oriented cohorts back at the office, "Sometimes you have to simply tell them what they need to know and tell them what to think about it."

It's 1994 all over again.

Way back then, upper management really needed to understand what the Internet was all about before they could determine what it meant for business. So many people were shouting about how the Web would change everything. It was tough for business managers to sufficiently understand the fundamentals of bits and packets to make up their own minds.

Today, Web analytics looks pretty much the same. Lots of heat, little light. Lots of noise, little signal.

If only the technical folks babbling about marketing and the marketing folks blathering about technology would speak in short and simple sentences, all would become clear.

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Jim Sterne ( is the founder and director of Target Marketing (, founder of the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and the founding president and current chairman of the Web Analytics Association.

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