The Web Analytics industry is very unique. It started its life back in the 90's without too much buzz. Websites started getting visits and managers thought it should be useful to gather visitor data, and they didit, mainly through log files. But it took a while until this data started being used to understand customer needs and drive decisions. Back in 2003, a couple of very enthusiastic professionals (Jim Sterne, Bryan Eisenberg and Andrew Edwards) decided to join forces and create an organized association that would be responsible for fostering the Web Analytics industry and uniting its professionals. And from this small gathering the Web Analytics Association (WAA) was born.
To paraphrase William Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey: 'seven years have passed; seven summers, with the length of seven long winters!' With the hard work of highly motivated professionals that love what they do, the association managed to overcome harsh winters and leverage the summers for growth. And the fruits are here for anyone to see: the WAA has grown from a smal gathering into a major influence and leader in the online marketing industry.
After volunteering for almost 4 years as a Co-Chair of the Marketing committee, I came to the conclusion that the Web Analytics Association plays a very similar role as the one played by successful universities. Here is a few of the points they have in common:
- Education: through online programs and cerifications, the WAA is a place where people come to learn, teach and become successfull professionals. Both teachers and students take advantage of the interaction with other people and the synergy that comes from group discussions (read more...).
- Research & Standards: the WAA, like successful universities, is constantly researching new sources of knowledge in academic journals and industry sources to provide its members with the latest news and techniques available for website optimization. It also created an ongoing effort with the objective to define the Web Analytics standards, a document that is used as the industry common denominator for website measurement.
- Networking: This cannot be highlighted enough. The WAA is a hub of professionals and enables inumerous networking opportunities. Web Analysts are very social beings (author is biased) and willing to share professional secrets of how-to-do and what-to-do. The WAA provides a platform for people to meet, and with the help of its official summit, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, very deep social connections are formed. It is very much like a group of university friends that keep meeting for a common purpose years after they finish their studies.
- Freedom: one of the greatest qualities of the WAA is the freedom to play. New and revolutionary ideas are accepted (and welcomed) and can be put to practice quickly. The opportunity and platform to test new ideas (and sometimes fail) is essential to the advancement of any field. One of those ideas turned out to be the Web Analytics Without Borders, a project currently being developed with Save The Children in order to help saving the lives of 74 million children by 2012.
And all the above are open to whomever wants to participate. So, contrary to universities, you get the opportunity to shape the future of the industry, to learn from brilliant minds, to research, and to play without having to pay! If you are interested to be part of this effort, join the WAA and start working.