Analytics continues to be a very manual process because of the great disconnect between data collection tools, data analytics tools, data vizualiation tools.

The analyst frequently takes data out of the collection tools and puts it into an analytics tools (sadly, an excel spreadsheet where it’s tortured) and then from an excel spreadsheet into a communication medium (Powerpoint, Word, GGOBI, another excel spreadsheet).

This movement of data from one place to another is touching.

Should human fingers touch data?

There have been great advancements within the data measurement tools in 2009: Google, Omniture, Coremetrics, Web Trends, Unica. We’re able to slice and dice and vizualize data like never before within these tools. I applaud that. Progress has been made.

I wouldn’t necessarily call any of the collection tools ‘analytics’ because, aside from summary statistics on segmentation, there isn’t any real statistics in there. To be sure, Google Intelligence is a giant leap forward.

The data collection tools, speaking generally, frustrate analysts who are trying to find cause and effect. They’re great for answering what happened in the past, and can occasionally suggest why what happened in the past happened, but not all too often. They continue to be a data collection tool.

The world would be all well and good if we only had a single source of data. But we don’t. We have email analytics, search engine marketing analytics, video analytics, and the world of social media analytics. We have loads of data that resides in disparate systems: from CampaignMonitor, DoubleClick, YouTube, Twitter, 4Q, ForeSee, GWO, and on and on. Data is literally scattered everywhere.

And this would be fine if customers were centralized. But they’re not. Customers are everywhere too.

The grand unification thesis that “x” (insert any of the big 5 data collection tools) is all you need isn’t fully adequate:, since systems j, k, l, and n don’t talk to “x”. And worse, in some cases, once data goes into “x”, it isn’t easy to get out.

And so human fingers touch data. A lot of it.

The consequences show up in error, frustration, waste, and a hangover of excel spreadsheets.

There has got to be a better way.

Do you believe that human fingers should touch data?