Web analytics vendors broaden their offerings

Following in the footsteps of bigger business intelligence vendors, the niche players focusing on Web analytics are trying to reinvent themselves and bring customers the ability to analyze a variety of data sources.

Analytics vendors of all ilk have been working over the last year to broaden their horizons and connect with as many data sources as possible in an effort to give customers a more complete view of their enterprise operations.

On Monday, Web analytics vendor WebTrends Corp. announced that it is reorganizing its product line to incorporate more types of analytics and is delivering the first product in the new lineup.

The company now offers two product categories: Web analytics and VRM (visitor relationship management). San Jose, Calif.-based NetIQ completed its acquisition of WebTrends in late March.

"We're looking to reinvigorate the WebTrends brand," said Colleen Carey, WebTrends director of product management.

The first deliverable, available immediately, will be the WebTrends Reporting Center, which is aimed at the mid-market and large enterprises and provides Web-based reports.

WebTrends sees the new product, along with two important add-ons -- one for collecting and aggregating data, the other for connecting to BroadVision, Vignette and Macromedia programs -- as a means to move up in the enterprise, according to Carey.

On the VRM front, Carey said that the company is looking to include both Web site data and offline customer information for enterprises.

"All of our products are on the path toward VRM," Carey added.

Accrue Software Inc., in Fremont, Calif., aligned with IBM Corp., in Armonk, N.Y., to enable its analytics to work with Big Blue's DB2 database, thereby extending Accrue's reach to a broader range of data sources.

NetGenesis Corp. last week announced Version 5.5 of its platform, which company officials said reaches out to more data types in order to provide more comprehensive insight to customer behavior.

"The goal is to help customers improve their Web initiative in a multi-channel environment," said Ann Estabrook, Cambridge, Mass.-based NetGenesis' vice president of corporate strategy and marketing. "We look at other touch points so customers aren't looking at the Web in isolation."

Meanwhile, traditional analytics vendor, also are extending the reach of their products only toward Web site and customer-related data, including Cognos Inc., Informatica Corp., Information Builders Inc., Crystal Decisions Inc., Hyperion Solutions Corp., MicroStrategy Inc., Spotfire Inc., nQuire Software Inc., and WhiteLight. Database vendors Oracle Corp., Microsoft Corp., IBM, and NCR Corp. are also incorporating analytics and broadening their products' reach. In turn, applications vendors Siebel Systems Inc., PeopleSoft Inc., SAP AG, and Oracle also are working to connect their analytic capabilities to a variety of data sources.

Doug Laney, an analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group, said that the Web-oriented functions of the traditional business intelligence vendors are by no means best-of-breed, and there is more intelligence built into the software by the Web analytics vendors, particularly when it comes to Web farms and IP address resolution.

That said, Laney added, the Web analytics vendors are being forced to expand their capabilities as the meat-and-potatoes business intelligence vendors add Web analytics.

"It's a multi-channel world, and anyone analyzing data within a single channel only is dead meat," Laney said. "It seems, therefore, that the Web site analysis vendors are merely prolonging their ouster and eventual atrophy or acquisition by adding 'me too' functionality that is much more mature elsewhere."

Customers that already have Web analytics in place can, in the meantime, use the expanded software and the newer pieces as building blocks to create a more inclusive analytics system.

One user of Accrue's software has implemented it over the past two years to monitor how changes to the Web site affect how visitors navigate the site, said a source requesting anonymity. More recently, the company is looking to analyze offline customer data with online data to track customer behavior more effectively. "Now we can generate better reports than with just the [analytic] application," said the source.

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More about Accrue SoftwareBroadvisionCognosCrystal DecisionsHyperion solutionsIBM AustraliaInformaticaInformation BuildersMacromediaMeta GroupMicrosoftMicrostrategy AustraliaNCR AustraliaNetGenesisNetIQnQuire SoftwareOraclePeopleSoftSAP AustraliaSiebel SystemsVignetteWebTrends

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