Cross the BI-Web Analytics Divide - InformationWeek

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8/22/2008
02:20 PM
Tony Byrne
Tony Byrne
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Cross the BI-Web Analytics Divide

At the TDWI Summit this week, I had the opportunity to talk about Web Analytics with enterprise business intelligence (BI) execs. I came away concluding that the worlds of enterprise data and Web metrics still remain far apart... The separation is partly technical and partly cultural.

At the TDWI Summit this week, I had the opportunity to talk about Web Analytics with enterprise Business Intelligence (BI) execs. I came away concluding that the worlds of enterprise data and Web metrics still remain far apart.

I've argued before that the separation is partly technical and partly cultural. BI managers are wary of the firehouse of Web traffic data, and most Web managers just don't think much about non-Web data stores and the value of Web site metrics to the broader enterprise.Chatting with a BI manager at a major Omniture customer highlighted some of the issues. As Web Analytics Report readers know, Omniture is good at getting data into its system, but not very friendly about getting it out. This customer wanted a small subset of key Web data to bring back into the company's data warehouse.

The key word here is small: you don't necessarily need (and in fact can't handle) all that extra traffic data for CRM-oriented enterprise data marts. But you do want to know what your customers are doing. So, this enterprise put its own unique tag on key transaction pages (downloads, inquiries, and other form submissions) that wrote to a separate database, which could then be synched up with master customer data to get a more holistic view. It's a useful work-around that seems to be working well for the BI team there.

At the same time, it made me a bit uncomfortable, because now they run two different tracking systems - Omniture and the bespoke capture application - and experience suggests that they will generate different metrics. The Web managers will make decisions based on what they see coming out of Omniture, while the master enterprise data may show something different.

That's not the end of the world - at least this customer actually made an effort to extract some web data for long-term enterprise use - it's really just a first step.

Before you start to criticize Omniture, understand that no Web analytics tool has been built to integrate with enterprise BI systems (indeed, the free Google Analytics service has no data access API at all). I think the marketplace still reflects the fact that within most enterprises, Web managers and enterprise data managers live in two different worlds. But, if like the customer I met, you are trying to bridge that gap, be prepared for some custom development.At the TDWI Summit this week, I had the opportunity to talk about Web Analytics with enterprise business intelligence (BI) execs. I came away concluding that the worlds of enterprise data and Web metrics still remain far apart... The separation is partly technical and partly cultural.

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