You know you need a good web analyst who can do more than just "puke out data" - but where do you find these talented people?
At Search Engine Strategies San Jose, 2008, I caught up with Avinash Kaushik, author of Web Analytics An Hour A Day, Google Analytics evangelist and Elastic Path webinar guest, and asked this very question.
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Here's the Coles Notes version of the interview:
One of the biggest mistakes when crafting job requirements is putting too much emphasis on knowledge of the tools, whether Omniture, Google Analytics or Coremetrics or whatever. If your candidate already has knowledge of the tool, fantastic, but it shouldn't be a requirement.
In a few weeks you can teach the tool, but you can't teach the mindset and techniques that make a great analyst. Without curiosity and out-of-the-box thinking, your analyst will simply "puke out data."
Avinash shares that in his experience, women and younger people make great analysts. You want to find someone who has a range of life experiences (even jail time is useful!) and "gets the power of the web" - whether it's Flickr or blogging or other social media or other technologies - because today's web is stale tomorrow. You want someone who thinks like your customers.
Often you will find star analysts emerging from finance or advertising careers - they can apply this real-world experience to make good conclusions from numbers and data.