I think technology is an amazing phenomenon. It is so amazing it will eventually replace your job as a web analyst.
As a society we develop through technology. Every piece of tool, from the invention of the wheel, the hammer, to the car to the computer is defined as technology.
So what do I mean when I say that web analyst will soon be replaced?
As a web analysts you are dependent on various tools to do your job successfully. Web analytics tools are constantly evolving. They become more complex capturing more and more of a company’s business. Many tools allow you through the API send in offline data and combine it with the online information they show.
Looking at today´s tendencies we see that the integration of Business Intelligence and web analytics tools are becoming more prominent. A fellow analyst told me not long ago that web analytics is just a technology to collect the data that then is put into his BI tool. From that he controls all aspects of his business.
As tools develop so does the capacity to start predicting outcomes. Predictive analytics is strongly growing and more and more companies use it to create a data driven culture.
Predictive analytics is in essence the marrying of data with statistical methods. When you do these interesting things start to happen. You can start understanding if you daily changes in metrics are for real or just normal.
For example Google Analytics uses this method to show you some of your metrics are significantly off the norm. Taking this a bit further the more data you put into a tool the more it will be able to understand the correlation between your data hence being able to predict what will happen if a value goes up and down. From this step it is not far to create a tool where you get recommendations what to do to boost your bottom line, today the job of a web analyst! You see where I am getting at? When the tools have been smart enough to start predicting and suggesting outcomes the next step is for management to start asking why they should have a web analytics department at all. This is the time when they will fire you.
Now, you might think this is a bit far-fetched conclusion but let me though put this into perspective through an example.
I read this interesting book about technology that leads to automation. Automation leads to loss of jobs in many different fields. It is also strong driving force for outsourcing. Without todays IT tools and Internet technology much of the outsourcing would be impossible. The most popular medical profession in the US is to become a radiologist. As a radiologist you work office hours and get paid a lot. Your job is to interpret scans of an x-ray machine. A big hospital today needs several people of this profession but more and more hospitals are outsourcing this to India. They send their scans through a secure Internet connection to India where doctors interpret them for a tenth of the salary a doctor in the US would do. Without the Internet technology this would of course not been possible.
Now you ask yourself, how does that relate to you as a web analyst? Well, it is already today possible to outsource part of a web analyst job to another country, but the biggest threat is not outsourcing it is software technology.
The next big leap in IT technology will not be hardware base but rather software base. Today’s software is rather primitive. The technology is moving so rapidly that if you start programing a software solution today and it will take you two years to complete when you are done it will probably already be out-dated.
Predicting the future is not an easy thing but almost all scientists within the IT technology field agree that within this century we will create artificial intelligence. That means computers that learn from their environment and their experience. Imagine what implications this will have for all areas of society and nonetheless for software development. A few years back ago I was discussing this option with a programmer. I told him to imagine a computer that can write millions of lines of code in a day and constantly review how the code works adjust it and deploy it all without the interference of humans. No need for a big team of developers that need to coordinate themselves. No need for human mistakes. Just clean beautiful code that works perfectly.
When the AI day comes, we will all be in trouble since it will touch all areas of society. But for now if you are a web analyst you should worry more about how your tools will develop within the next decade or so. To avoid being misplaced you need to figure out how to move up in the food chain. Understand how to create true value to your business which can probably be done in many different ways but keep an eye on jobs that need human creativity and idea generation. These are probably the last jobs to be replaced by a computer.
As a web analyst since you work with data you are probably in the best position to move into new fields. These new fields will probably combine the understanding of the power of data with the combination of creativity. So don’t be discouraged just keep an eye for change and you will probably do fine.