Statistics is rather a staid subject to study till one discovers the utility of data and its patterns. Post this it begins to be a magical world and enables amazing insights into whatever activity you want to track and monitor. Website analytics is no different and if the system goes wonky people become anxious and complain about it real-time.
Even as an amateur blogger I can’t quite resist looking at my stats and feel satisfied when it indicates growth and progress against my own benchmarks. Invariably one runs into a lean patch at times and again it eggs you on experiment and make changes to one’s approach. A mixture of trial and error helps the blogger discover some levers that do the trick and the activity in itself becomes exciting and rewarding. Anyone who has been a student of statistics would know the concept of measurement error and the means to minimize it if not eliminate it altogether. Gauge R&R is a familiar term to us. And the human instinct spots any issue early on if the System were to become a bit wonky.
So last week when I logged into my account and did like a look of my stats, I sensed there was a problem. I spent about an hour doing a root cause analysis. The devices I employed were a familiar routine but just reminded me of the fascination for getting the data right. My first concern was that the website visits were not reflecting properly in my stats. Easiest check was to become a ‘visitor’ myself to the blog by using an alternative browser. Presto that showed me in a jiffy that there was a problem. The next step is quite idiotic but many find comfort in doing it – just log out and log in again to hope that the problem resolves itself. No such luck.
The next option was to visit the Forum page to see if others were experiencing a similar problem. And that was an easy option since I could see the page dominated with complaints and feedback. Someone had intelligently tried to gather various thread together to enable coherent feedback to our support team.
Knowing there is a problem is not quite an end – you are tempted to keep on checking on whether it is fixed or not. Eventually the issue was resolved before the end of the day and one got back to a routine. Unfortunately the next day stats were not encouraging and unconsciously you blamed the outage for having disrupted your rhythm and discouraged visits. There is no logical rationale for this given that at no point I faced a problem in the upload of my blog page. All the same we tend to become a bit illogical on all this.
Thankfully the rhythm recovered fully by the next day and one could spend a while lovingly analysing the data and patterns that emerged every day on a real-time basis. So I am yet to meet a blogger who does not like to watch for his statistics – no matter whether he hated Maths itself when he was in High School. Reminds me of my Economic prof who said that engagement is the best way to create lasting learning. So to help us the world of commerce and economics, he moved make each student create a fictitious company and run it just like companies are run in the real world. So it was like all gain without any pain.
I felt the same as an amateur blogger – I had just lost a bit of time and a day’s fun when the data was down. But one view of the forum page convinced me that there were a lot of professional people out there who were impacted by the glitch and it made a significant impact to their operations. No wonder ‘big data’ is such a hit concept – analytics is serious business and a lot of money rides on making the wise choices in a timely manner.
So here is a wish that we should value our blessings a lot more and hopefully not suffer a data outage any time soon again.