Nowadays web analytics is a “mouthful” that everyone is tossing around just to have the feeling that they know what they are doing online. Some people may get very technical about it and start rumble about third parties cookies, conversion funnels, shinystat data without even understanding what the topic of discussion is.
I believe that web analytics is nothing but a tool that can be used (with various degrees of complexity) to backup your decisions on your activity online. Unfortunately the biggest problem with web analytics comes up when it is used not as a “decision tool“, but as a “decision maker“. If the data that we find using web analytics tools are not used to test hypothesis but to guide our decisions, we are taking business decisions based on the interpretation of a sign, as much as haruspicesused to do with animals.
As often happens when you want to get out of an undesired situation, you have to struggle for it. As explain by a brilliant editorial from last week’s Economist, in this troubled economic times, the trade-off doesn’t changes.
Economies of western countries have relied heavily on debt to finance their growth. While some countries, like the US, have seen debt mainly in the hands of customers (that have often financed their spending through generous credit lines), other economies, like many European states, have seen this debt in the form of unhealthy state-backed-up companies (such as banks, airlines, automotive companies, etc.), or national bonds issued to cover exposed positions.
The mistake done by many, is to consider debt as poisonous evils. Au contraire! On the contrary, debt is more like a medicine than a poison.
Debt is a great fuel for economic growth: without debt, Sara Jessica Parker wouldn’t be able to wear her Manolo Blanhik (as the author of the article says), Airbus wouldn’t be able to build its planes, and Spain would never be able to lower its unemployment level (putting aside the euro-currency complication for a minute). But debt, like any medicine when exceeded the recommended dosage, can become poisonous as well.
In recent years we have seen two main situations that have allowed debt to exceed the tolerable limits and create a financial crisis: bad debt, and financial speculation. Let me explained how they worked (simplifying a bit).