So why all of a sudden has analytics becoming hot! I mean its been around for twenty years with multiple players in the field. Customers have always requested integration with analytic products but have never really had them as showstoppers if the requirement was not initially fulfilled.
The answer is that customer facing web sites are now being recognized as an important component for the business. Initially they were a requirement as a complement to the companies marketing strategy but they were never critical to the bottom line. Now they are important element to establishing the brand and generating revenue (directly and indirectly). Before business would compete at the store level or through direct/indirect sales while now they compete directly through their web site.
So companies need to know who is using their web site, how is it being used, what is working and what isn't, and what do they need to do to increase their ROI per click. This information is important because now large enterprises spend big money on their customer facing sites. It can be up to $20 million or more. The major expense is not the software or hardware, but rather the human resources required to make it. These resources come from all IT and business areas.
People associated with an enterprise customer facing web site get high visibility which enable opportunities for career enhancement or destruction, depending on the results. So analytics provide some control and the ability to turn an "art" to a science.
If you want to read a good book on the importance of analytics, I recommend Competing on Analytics: The new Science of Winning.