Are you inspired? I’m not.

Let me work my way backwards from offending anyone or causing a stir. But that, of course, requires a stir.

We web analytics people suck. We don’t inspire me at all. We don’t inspire anyone around us. I’m sorry, but it’s true.

Now the working backwards part.

Who are the people who you think of as inspiring? Maybe a CEO. Maybe an athlete. Maybe Seth Godin or Eric Peterson or Avinash Kaushik, if you’re thinking a little more locally. What these people have in common (beyond charisma) is some sort of power. People listen to their instructions. They have a talent, a gift, or just a position that affords them leverage and control, and they inspire us because we seek the same control. Their inspiring words illuminate a path that, if followed, feel like they’ll bring us to a similar level of status, influence, and control over our own destiny. But if you think that someone gifted them this power, you’re kidding yourself.

I feel like I hear a lot of complaining, though, among people who do web analytics, usability, information architecture, among other trades. The complaints mostly center around the theme of not being able to get traction, that people don’t understand analytics (or these other trades), that decisions are made stupidly without them. And I think that people start to believe, really believe, that they aren’t that important.

If you don’t think you’re important, who will?

Let me tell you this. As a web analytics geek, you hold the keys to new product development, new marketing plans, new levels of profitability, new levels of operational excellence, to name a few. You are incredibly important, and it’s time to start acting like it.

Over on Wall Street, there are a bunch of people in suits doing work very similar to ours. They pour through financial statements, talk to executives, understand the climate for businesses, and ultimately can tell whether the future is bright or dim for a publicly-traded company. They know that their hard work will translate into billions of dollars of capital for these companies, and successful retirement plans for greying couples in Miami Beach. They raise their work up the flagpole and let it fly, because they know how valuable and important it is. And the world respects them for it. Proof? Analysts on Wall Street inspire thousands of college graduates to gallop bullishly to NYC every year to get heard and make big bucks, they are quoted everywhere, and they have tremendous influence (and obviously sometimes dangerously so).

Those guys have had a while to prove their value and get settled in. We’ve had less time. But in that time, we’ve been doing a lot of whining. We’ve been talking a lot about pageviews, bounce rate, and time on site. People don’t give a crap about these things. Do you hear Wall Street talking about pension coverage and operating lease expenses, or do you hear them talking about cash flow? Cash is what gets people talking. Cash is what gets people asking questions. And those questions will eventually lead to operating leases and stock dilution (which they are absolutely prepared to discuss), like questions from our CEOs will eventually lead to bounce rate and new visits. But that’s not where it starts.

So, it’s time for us to change the conversation. Let’s get inspired by the potential of the work we do, and the real, financial impact of effective web analytics, which is absolutely mind-blowing. Get into the executive suite, however you have to. And when you’re there, don’t blow it by talking about web analytics. Inspire yourself a little bit. You are incredibly powerful. You control a lot more than you realize. You just need to give the organization a taste, and you’re king.

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