RE: [webanalytics] What applications are other people using?
Excellent comments! While I cannot share specific data regarding the cost of switching, these costs generally emerge from three specific areas: IT resources, training and relationship development.
IT resources is pretty obvious - if you're moving from a log-based solution, ala WebTrends, to a tag-based method there is the cost of tagging pages. I mention this since this is a pretty common direction for companies to move, away from log files. Some of the hidden costs here include the time it takes to devise a hierarchy and implementation plan for data collection, establishment of custom variables, segmentation strategy (if the application does not allow ad hoc, historical segmentation).
Training is also fairly obvious - your company is likely pretty used to the kinds of reports they've been getting and now you need to retrain them to use different reports/language/concepts/etc. Providing your new provider has an experienced team to provide training support this is less of an issue but I caution my clients to be careful when examining training options. Analytics training is not a "one size fits all" endeavour - different levels of training should be offered, from "basic training" on the interface all the way up to "expert user" and "business objective" focused training programs (typically delivered by analysts, less often by CSR or training teams).
Relationship development is the cost that is usually overlooked - the time it will take you to establish a strong relationship with your new vendor of choice. The top-tier players in analytics all have a slightly different approach to customer support and some of these approaches work better than others. While I obviously cannot advise anyone about which vendor has a strategy that would work for them, I can say this. It's not a bad idea to ask to talk to/meet the person or team that will be responsible for your relationship after the ink dries DURING the pre-sale process. Time and time again we see that companies that have a strong relationship with their vendor - software or services, does not matter - are more likely to make good use of the application.
Regarding your comment about portability of data, this is tricky. If you're tied to historicals then I recommend you examine "why" this is the case. Companies that place too heavy a reliance on historical data are often not taking advantage of the tactical value of said applications. Switching data collection devices - even from tags to tags or logs to logs - almost always concern about comparison to historical data. My advice is to focus more on recently collected data, take advantage of emerging tools for A/B testing and site/marketing optimization, and select the best tool for the job NOW, not year over year.
P.S. I do hear rumors that one of the vendors has devised a way to either import data from other applications/data formats and/or co-opt competitors tags and collect partial data without massive re-tagging. If anyone has more details about this rumor I'd love to know!
---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
From: "Braden Hoeppner" <braden.hoeppner@...>
Date: Fri, 2 Jul 2004 09:23:34 -0700
>---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
>Any chance you can post that information about the cost of switching vendors?
> I believe that this is an important 'feature' of an analytics vendor: how easy is it to get your data if you decide to switch? Not only a problem with web analytics, but as software companies move online, and packages move to a subscription based approach, it becomes difficult to 'get your data'
>out in a usable form should you decide to switch vendors at some point. If you switch vendors and they have a different methodology of tracking, or do not have a good export tool, your historic data could be useless.
>I understand that offering a good export package seems to be something that would promote churn, but as the market becomes more competitive I don't think people will put up with the inability to have full control over there data - this is probably even more true as web analysts become more adept and
>manipulating data to produce important metrics for their businesses needs.
>From: Eric Peterson [mailto:eric@...]
>Sent: Wednesday, June 30, 2004 8:43 PM
>Subject: RE: [webanalytics] What applications are other people using?
>Interesting points, all, Matt. While I am inclined to agree with you regarding customer-centric organization I'm slightly more pessimistic about the ultimate depths current and future vendors will take their feature sets. Your comments about companies like Cognos, SAS and epiphany providing
>critical insights into customer intelligence are well put but do you think that "Web analytics" should be bounded somehow? I guess what I'm asking is, if the current analytics vendors start to analyze the multitudes of data types currently available to the realm of "marketing" and "customer
>analytics" how will we know that they are Web analytics applications vendors anymore?
>Certainly it's an open question, what features and functions should be included in the toolsets provided by companies like WebTrends, WebSideStory and Omniture (just to name a few). As we see each of the top-tier vendors, as well as a handful of the so-called "mid-tier" vendors, expanding into new
>realms - WebTrends acquires Web Position Gold, Coremetrics partners with ATG, WebSideStory partners with Atomz, etc. - we as relative outsiders are forced to sit back and adopt a "wait and see" attitude regarding their likelihood to succeed with these endeavours. To this end, and my point about the
>feature/function wars, we can be fairly sure that if any one vendor gains traction in a new market that the rest of the pack will follow. Think about the analytics vendors recent interest in search (site search, bid management, SEO, SEM) and ask yourself how long it will be before the entire
>top-tier has some significant investment/partnership in online search capabilities.
>Finally, I strongly agree with Mr. Belkin regarding his advice to "quibble12345" taking a closer look at each vendor before making a decision to switch vendors. Data we've collected in my day job indicates that the costs associated with switching are much higher than often thought -- both in terms
>of retraining and reimplementation/reinstallation -- and thusly companies should look for better criteria to drive vendor change than any claims that a vendor, a company, or even an analyst makes ;-)