Thursday, July 23, 2009

Forrester Wave: Just the Facts Please

In my line of work, sometimes you strive for shock and awe, while other times, you just write the facts. In the case of the Forrester Wave™: Web Analytics that published today, I did the latter. While it felt somewhat anticlimactic because there was no sizzling scandal and no juicy uproar (at least not yet), I’m confident that the report is an accurate reflection of the state of the Web analytics market today. Somewhat ironically, Web analytics practitioners told us throughout this study that accuracy of information was atop the list of most important vendor selection criteria. As such, data accuracy is critical in all things analytics and I too aim to please in this regard.

This research was six months in the making and was an arduous (yet rewarding) process for me and hopefully for the vendors that participated as well. With excruciating detail I assessed eight vendors at the top of this field. I held strategy discussions with their executives; interviewed their clients by phone and via online survey; and validated their capabilities in exploratory demos. The end result revealed an extremely tight field of highly capable solutions. As much as I tried to push the evaluation criteria to the limits of analysis, vendors met the challenge with their standard offerings and ability to customize their tools to perform seemingly endless tasks. The result produced 5 leaders amid a field of 8 with nary a laggard in the bunch.

This research will help Customer Intelligence professionals understand the complex Web analytics landscape and determine which vendor is best suited to meet their needs. Key findings revealed:

    Web analytics is the decisive tool for measuring online customer intelligence. Our past research illustrates that 73% of organizations surveyed already have Web analytics tools in place. Readers here are probably on this train already – if not, it’s time to start worrying about the commitment to your online channel. I suggest bootstrapping some tags onto your site today using one of the highly capable free tools as a start.

    A highly competitive vendor race ends in a photo finish. I used this analogy because a photo finish requires that one look closely at the field of competitors to determine which one wins. While there is no single winner identified in any Forrester Wave, each vendor evaluated has capabilities that differentiate it from its peers.

Discerning the details of who provides the strongest social media measurement or which vendor excels at attribution measurement is critical. But these considerations also need to account for which vendor provides the best overall package for any organization. My evaluation of these vendors is meant to serve as a guide for Web analytics users. A little known fact about the Forrester Wave is that the weightings of categories, subcategories and criteria can be modified to suit individual business needs. While the scores remain constant, Forrester clients can adjust the weights applied to each area, which changes the placement of vendors on the graphic.

Thus, while I feel this reflects the state of the market, it’s presented in a way that applies to enterprise organizations on the whole and should be tweaked for individual use as a decisioning tool. Please feel free to reach out to me with comments or if you’d like a better understanding of how the competitive field stacks up. I’m happy to help.


Anand_Madhavan said...

I think what you said about starting with a free tool is great. To be honest, 80% of businesses in this world don't need much more then the functionality that Google Analytics provides; being able to use this frequently, and wisely and making you more savvy about your Interactive position is the name of the game. Otherwise you're down a ton of money and tracking so many things that it becomes insignificant.

Anand_Madhavan said...

I enjoyed what you said about using as free tool to begin with. I've been doing analytics for about 3 years and I've worked with both small and big firms. The truth is that 80% of firms don't need more then that of the functionality that Google Analytics provides (especially with its nifty segmentation and event tracking capability). The trick about analytics is being diligent and understanding that the accuracy is arbitrary; the numbers are close enough and doing some sort of common-sizing of your data is what needs to be done. Over paying for analytics and tracking how many people click a certain portion of the screen is fine and dandy, but most people don't need that to improve their site, they need usable information they can act on and make decisions on. Officially, I am coming down from my soap box.

Bruno said...

I agree with anandimus, most businesses don't need more than google analytics. Furthermore, the problem is that businesses go for a paid solution to solve people problems... going for an enterprise version web analytics solution does not solve the fact that companies are not set up for a web world. It does not get an employee that understands web analytics nor does it get key stakeholders to understand the numbers presented by an analytics expert.