We have started to pull together our 2006 Web Analytics Buyer’s Guide and it’s clear that a lot has moved on in the last few months.

Should we re-name this topic entirely in the face of criticism that the title Web Analytics doesn’t do justice to its strategic importance and growing role in delivering valuable business insights?

This issue has occasionally reared its head in the past but is now becoming a subject in need of resolution if the sector is to gain more traction.

Neil Mason, of Applied Insights, says that Web Analytics should be called something along the lines of e-Business Insights. He adds:The name Web Analytics doesn’t really mean anything or do justice to the outcome or value. It’s not just about the web – it’s about business over the web. Similarly, it’s not just about analytics – it’s about insights.”

Meanwhile, Malcolm Duckett, of speed-trap, which sells e-business intelligence, says that our buyer’s guide should be re-named the “Online Business Intelligence Buyer’s Guide.”

Their views reflect the opinion of many industry experts that there is a perception and branding issue associated with the current name for this fast-growing industry.

For more enlightened organisations, Web Analytics feeds into a wider function of the business which can have a variety of different names including Customer Insight, Management Information (MI), Management Information Systems (MIS) or Business Intelligence (BI).

Online data is only part of the business intelligence picture and it is therefore increasingly important for companies to pull together and analyse data from different sources.

It was clear from our February Web Analytics roundtable – or should I say our Online Business Intelligence roundtable – that companies are having varying degrees of success in terms of unifying different data sources (e.g. web analytics and CRM software) and getting a single view of the customer.

While many organisations recognise that they should be more strategic in their use of online data, it is often difficult to reach a single-view nirvana which will enable the most valuable strategic insights.

But despite these logistical and political difficulties, the good news for vendors and businesses is that there is now much more impetus towards turning data into actionable recommendations.

The vendors realise that they need to help businesses interpret their data, while their clients realise that they need to employ business-minded analysts who can turn the information into something meaningful.

The upshot is that, while we feel it is too early to abandon the name Web Analytics, the buyer’s guide will come with a strap-line or sub-heading which makes it clear that this subject is about business decisions and strategic insights, and not just data for the sake of data.