This fabulous cartoon was clipped from the Bloomberg BusinessWeek site and describes the uneasiness that many have about the data that appears as gospel in many reports about website effectiveness. The data that is captured is useful but, must be viewed with a bit of skepticism if it is not going to lead the user down a false path. No one is vetting the information to make sure it is valid. How many times have you viewed the headline only to find a different story in the details?

Much of the information captured is valid and useful in determining trends so that a better product or service can be built. However, one must be careful in making decisions that the information is valid, useful and does not just show the user what they want to see. For example, Facebook is starting to discuss the initial public offering with the market this week. The statistics are impressive with the huge number of users but, the average revenue per user is only $1.17. Not many coffee shops can even make a profit at that average sale.

Validating the data is as important as gathering large amounts of data just as profitability is as important as revenue. Using one without the other reminds me of when Yoshi said in the movie Mr. Baseball, “difficulties surround her”.