Google Analytics Suffers Outage
Last week Google Analytics customers reported service outages that affected some for more than 24 hours. Worse, Google issued no official comment until Tuesday. As "Web Analytics Report" readers know, Google's official support partners fare no better than users, and in this case received no communications on the outage. As a free service, perhaps the offering is not supposed to be enterprise-class, but let's compare marketing hype to real functionality.
How Customers Should Prepare for Vendor Demos
Tony Byrne has provided some advice to vendors regarding product demos. Those ten points make essential reading for vendors and customers alike, but there is another perspective. Since I have personally sat in on those demos both as a buyers' advisor and as a vendor (system integrator), I need to add three points that customers should keep in mind when asking vendors to demonstrate their products:
Why Are Customers Frustrated With Web Analytics?
I spoke to customers and vendors at the recent Emetrics Summit to find some answers. Customers generally underestimated the level of effort required of them -- for example the tagging required to collect "basic" data, such as downloads of PDFs, Excel and Word files. Not understanding the need to develop a process for data collection, page tagging, and analysis, customers often assume that once the Web analytics solution is in place, it will run itself.
Crossing Channels: Q&A With Best Buy's Matt Smith
As Senior Director, Customer Insight at Best Buy, Matt Smith oversees Web analytics, one-to-one marketing, the Reward Zone customer-loyalty program, market-share measurement, in-store test-and-measurement and an analytics research and development team that serves multiple operating groups. Smith explains the retailer's move into cross-channel analysis, which he says is essential to transitioning from customer acquisition to relationship building.
Service Innovation: Survival of the Savviest
On May 30, a bunch of very smart people from a variety of industry and academic settings will gather in Santa Clara, Calif., to discuss service innovation in the technology industry, at a symposium organized by the recently formed Service Research Innovation Initiative (SRII). Service innovation is an idea whose time has come. The service sector now accounts for 75 percent to 80 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product.
Customer Insight: Complete the Picture With Cross-Channel Analysis
Are you looking at store-, contact center- and Web-based transactions in isolation? Employing cross-channel analysis, Best Buy learned that best customers are typically multi-channel customers, and it's now personalizing marketing messages with a complete view of customer behavior. Here's a look at the cross-channel trend and its implications for technology choices and operational decisions.
Ten Steps to a Successful Vendor Demo
I've been attending a lot of vendor demonstrations on behalf of clients recently. These are in-person demos, typically following a tight script, after a set of vendors has been selected following written proposals. More often than not, the demos don't turn out very well. Sometimes the customer is ill-prepared. But more frequently, the vendor just flubs it. Demos are important for vetting finalists for any proof-of-concept, and customers could really benefit from better ones.
On the Inxight and ClearForest Text Analytics Deals
Buying Inxight is a smart move for Business Objects. Folding the capability to extract information from text into their technology stack is a natural next step for the company. This acquisition affirms the text-BI/integrated-analytics strategy being pursued by other vendors, notable Attensity, Clarabridge, Intelligent Results, SAS and SPSS. It also follows the precedent of data-integrator Informatica's late 2006 purchase of text-analytics vendor Itemfield.
IBM Eases Content Classification
IBM this week announced self-learning content classification software designed to automatically categorize large volumes of information. The offerings are intended to help organizations find content and understand whether it's important and how it should be handled. The software is particularly aimed at classifying content that is unmanaged so it can be more easily found and retrieved.
EMC Bows 'Transactional Content Management'
Transactional document management (high-volume throughput of relatively static documents) has long been dominated by IBM and FileNet. EMC this week announced that it, too, wants to compete in this lucrative market. Hence as part of its forthcoming Documentum D6 release, they have announced "TCM" (Transactional Content Management). For now, TCM is essentially a user interface module for high-volume scenarios…
On BI Bake Offs and Vaporware
At TDWI in Boston last week, attendees of the course "Evaluating BI Toolsets" got to see Business Objects, MicroStrategy, and Oracle demo head-to-head… Some of the questions from attendees during the course made me think of vaporware. Vendors love to put out press releases well in advance of product release dates. This is smart marketing as it takes time to build awareness… but in some cases, confusion on dates seems purposeful to me, leading buyers to think it's all vaporware.
Appian Upgrade Makes BPM More Accessible
Appian Enterprise 5.6 adds Ajax-powered interfaces, real-time analytics, Microsoft Office plug-ins and RSS capabilities to make it easier to access and control business processes.
Business Objects Deal Advances BI-Search Combo
Business Objects announced this morning its intent to acquire Inxight Software, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company specializing in search technology including federated search, entity extraction, natural-language processing, text analytics and data visualization software. The deal, if closed as planned in July, will advance Business Objects' efforts to gain "streamlined access to unstructured information such as e-mail, documents, notes fields and Web content."
Put to the Test: WebTrends Analytics 8
The granddaddy in the Web analytics space, WebTrends has more customers and more data collection and deployment options than its competitors. The vendor's software- and SaaS-based offerings are robust and well supported, but they're also complex and potentially expensive. Here are a few cautions and caveats to keep in mind when navigating the 'dizzying array' of reporting and licensing options.
SAP Improves Outlook on Performance Management
SAP has decided to retool its financial performance management offering. Why? The reason is the business software giant's announced acquisition of OutlookSoft… OutlookSoft comes with a strong Microsoft-based technology approach and capabilities for budgeting, planning, consolidation, reporting and analysis. If it can harness these, SAP has the potential to be a significant player for financial performance management.
Opinion: Enterprise Search Is This Year's Hot Topic For Business Intelligence
Will enterprise search become part of the business intelligence sector of enterprise IT? Plenty of analysts and experts said 'yes' at last week's Enterprise Search Summit, yet many practitioners have yet to forge a real search strategy. Here's a bit of advice on how to make the most of current investments and how to choose a new search platform.
Data 'Switzerland' Stretches Out
Informatica's goal is to be the hub that brings together structured and unstructured data and lets it flow easily across enterprise boundaries… Its stature as the biggest "Switzerland" in the data integration tool market makes it a welcome systems integrator partner. With IBM owning the former Ascential Software products… Informatica's nonaligned status has strong appeal.
Prepare for the Combination of BI and Search
Want a single interface to all information in the enterprise? That's what 83 percent of survey respondents said they want from the combination of business intelligence and search, but better access alone won't justify an investment. Customer information integration and specific revenue-enhancing goals should be a cornerstone of your plans. Here are eight steps every organization should take before jumping on the BI-search combination bandwagon.
When Search and Content Management Collide
"When Search and ECM Collide" was the title of a tutorial I ran in New York this week. It's an important topic to explore as both Search vendors and ECM vendors both seem to believe that either A. they can do without the other, or B., they understand the other fully and see the opposing technology as simply a minor supporting or interfacing toolset.
Text Analytics Comes of Age
An Accelovation briefing earlier this week was doubly helpful in affirming my take on the maturity of the text-analytics market and in showing me that I might be doing my job wrong… The company is pitching solutions to business analysts and not to IT geeks like me, a sure sign that the underlying technologies are stable and capable.
That a vendor can center its message on "what" rather than "how" is a hallmark of a maturing market.
BI and the Law of Diminishing Differentiation
I recently read a good book that explains how to use analytics to gain competitive edge. The book got me thinking on what constitutes "competitive advantage" in the context of BI. All technology has the potential to provide competitive advantage… until, that is, your competitors use it too, at which point it becomes a commodity. But that's not the case with BI. Here's why.
Open Source BI Firm Targets Integration Needs
I profited from my recent Rome visit to learn more about an aggressive open-source business intelligence contender, SpagoBI. The software is produced by Rome-based systems integrator Engineering Ingegneria Informatica and uses some of the same components as software from Pentaho and JasperSoft. It's packaged, however, in a framework said to be more flexible and extensible than those of open source rivals.
Forrester Research Names Leaders in ETL
Extract, transform and load (ETL) technology is still heavily used for data warehousing and BI, but it's also being tapped to support complex challenges including real-time and near real-time data integration. How do the latest ETL products stack up for these broader needs? The latest Forrester Wave Report on Enterprise ETL evaluated leading vendors across 68 criteria and found that…
Was Outlooksoft the Best Choice for SAP?
Saugatuck Technology really went out on a limb last week characterizing SAP's planned purchase of Outlooksoft as a reaction to Oracle's recent acquisition of Hyperion. What's next, a stunning revelation that Microsoft is using its BI strategy to help drive sales of Office 2007? The deal is certainly a positive move for SAP, but I don't know that I'd use the word "significant" to describe the boost it will give the ERP vendor.
Cognos Launches BI Appliance
Cognos Now stems from the recent acquisition of Celequest. Besides the appliance, Cognos is also offering BI as a hosted service.
Open Source Business: Altruistic or Profit Driven?
Open-source businesses are universally hybrids, whether they seek to profit from their altruism - those companies such as CentricCRM and Pentaho that sell support for software offerings that are completely free, open source - versus those such as SugarCRM and JasperSoft that are altruistic only to the point where they can attract paying customers for the closed parts of their software stacks.
Ballmer on BI: Microsoft's CEO Looks Ahead
Steve Ballmer wrapped up Microsoft's first-ever business intelligence conference calling for the 'democratization' of information and forecasting services-based delivery of Office and BI components.
What Wasn't Discussed at Microsoft's BI Conference
Microsoft has every reason to be pleased by the results of its first BI Conference. It was well organized, closely watched and, most importantly, well attended, with more than 2,800 making their way to Seattle for the May 9-11 event. It was a coming-out party for Microsoft as a credible, large-enterprise-ready BI vendor. But in addition to those wowed by the presentations, I did encounter a few critics who raised legitimate questions.
Capture and BPM: Final Reflections on AIIM 2007
If John Mancini mentioned business process management (BPM) once in his keynote address at last month's AIIM Expo he mentioned it a dozen times. Then there were the enterprise content management (ECM) vendors themselves talking up the connection with BPM. To me, the combination is a natural as good old document management, imaging and workflow, so I won't be surprised to see a big BPM push at AIIM 2008.
Microsoft and Business Intelligence for Everyone
If a user conference is a barometer for market leadership, then Microsoft's first ever BI conference clearly shows they are in the top tier. More than 2,500 attendees have gathered here in Seattle to learn and share tips on Microsoft BI as a data warehouse platform, provider of BI front-end tools, and soon, performance management (due late summer)… Microsoft most differs from other BI vendors on two points…
Cognos Go! Mobile Goes Live
Delivering reports and KPIs directly from Cognos 8 to Blackberry devices, Go! Mobile starts shipping, gains adoption.
Opinion: Where BI And CRM Need Major Home Improvement
Home Depot and Lowe's use IT and pricing power to gain strategic advantage over small local competitors. But recent experiences at these chains show that both retailers have room for improvement in the use of customer relationship management and business intelligence.
BPMN Gaining Traction in Process Analysis Tools
BPMN is the de facto standard for process modeling, but many leading modeling tools, particularly those within high-end business process analysis (BPA) suites, so far don't support it. That appears to be changing. Recently IDS Scheer announced that ARIS, generally considered the leading standalone BPA suite, would be supporting the full BPMN notation in the v7.0.2 service release this spring. The announcement was surprising to me.
'Adaptive BPM' Takes On Unpredictable Processes
Ultimus updates its business process management suite to handle changing products, roles and tasks. Real-time rule tuning and enhanced collaboration help businesses take exceptions in stride.
Does IBM Understand BI?
IBM software executives have long insisted that [BI] components are applications and not middleware and that IBM is not in the applications business. Recently, though, that monotone is fading, to be replaced by a new note: They now say "No Comment," or when they do comment, talk about Hyperion-like technology as though this part of the BI market involves just the writing and delivering of reports.