In almost eighteen months of blogging this is a first:
a comparison of two tools.
I have not done comparison of various tools thus far, by design, mostly because this blog is less about tools and more about mindsets (Web Analytics 2.0 for example) and life lessons. And of course the 10/90 rule!
But last week Diana asked a great question about comparing Coradiant and Tealeaf (the former along with Maxamine was my recommendation for your Multiplicity Web Analytics 2.0 strategy). The answer to Diana's question means a temporary breaking of the rules, but I hope that you'll find it interesting.
At the very minimum this post is a peek into how I think when I evaluate tools and what I place more or less importance on. For what its worth, food for thought.
[If you are here for Web Analytics only, here's a post: Web Analytics Tools Comparison. Also please see the update at the end of this post.]
Diana asked me to elaborate a little more on my recommendation of Coradiant as a foundational tool, and not Tealeaf given that they are quite similar.
It is important to stress that my perspective on Coradiant is for the unique application that I am recommending it for:
Proactively identifying issues / trends of your users at a atomic user level to understand why your website technologically stinks at meeting the needs of your customers.
Why your conversion rate might be sub optimal, why your customer segments are not happy, why you are leaving money on the table (ecommerce or not)?
In my mind there are three main differences as you compare Tealeaf and Coradiant:
With Tealeaf you'll buy software and consulting services and put them on hardware you'll buy. You will work with your IT folks for a bit of time on multiple threads simply to get is all going.
With Coradiant you'll get a box, it has two holes, you plug in power and network and you are good to go. You need IT but in a substantially reduced role and with less of their weapons aimed at you.
The Coradiant solution has a much faster time to use.
# 2 Time to Usefulness:
Tealeaf will provide you with completely unstructured data that you can slice and dice any which way to find anything you want. So will Coradiant. (There is one important difference: Tealeaf will allow you to replay the Visitor session. Coradiant won't, it will only give you all the data and reports.)
I am very impressed with the analytical tools that Coradiant will give you on top of the unstructured data. The AIM app will not only give you a report, it will actually analyze the data and proactively identify trends / problems that need your attention and, this you'll like, what changed before and after.
The biggest problem with saying "here is all the data in the world" is that I don't know where to even start. I like the mindset that "here is all the data in the world, start looking at these five things because there is something "funny" about them.
I also like that mindset because its you, the solution provider, not just being provider of a large amount of data.
I like any application (including Maxamine) that does not assume that there is a intelligent person on the other end. There usually isn't one. Then you have just wasted a quarter of a million dollars plus.
Coradiant has a much higher time to usefulness and hence, critically, action.
# 3 Cost – Benefit "Equality":
I grew up working in my dad's factory (mechanical engineering) and my upbringing taught me to always look for value, to make intelligent trade-offs to solve for the cost benefit equation to get the best bang for my buck.
There is a cost difference between Coradiant and Tealeaf, and for the applicability I am covering here there is also a benefit difference.
As I consider feature set I am willing to make tradeoffs, and with every extra dollar I am going to ask for five or ten or fifteen dollars of actionable insights in exchange. If I can't solve for then after a certain point I stop spending for the incremental 2% benefit.
Call each vendor, have them give you a specific written quote for your specific requirement.
Three simple things to consider when you buy anything to ensure that your company gets what it needs, at a price that is optimal with the shortest possible time to use or usefulness (unless of course you are on your way out then you can leave that for your successor to sort out!! :)).
Before I close some disclosures, my biases, to put all the chips on the table:
A] I have met senior executives from both companies and spent time with them (Tealeaf execs were kind enough to come meet me here in Mt. View and I met the Coradiant team in San Diego on a consulting engagement). I have talked to customers of both.
B] I do not fundamentally believe that video replay by itself is useful. Many people disagree with me, my feelings are crushed but I am ok with that.
On a website that has a million visitors a day, or a hundred thousand, how would you decide what sessions to watch? How would you know that you have watched enough to get a statistically significant sample so that you can take action? How many individual sessions can you actually watch?
I am deeply biased towards finding segments of problems with areas of the site, or pockets / segments of customers, not individuals. You can action both of those with confidence. Personalization has come to nothing, for a set of specific reason. Segmentation rocks.
C] I continue to believe that Privacy will define who we can identify and what we can track, and that most websites will essentially remain a anonymous experience for 95% plus visitors to the website. When I call you or walk into your store, you have no idea it is me (cookie id: 234A2D345EBC2342898F) or avinashk. :)
You might not agree with me, that is 100% ok. My biases could be leading me in the wrong direction. But now you know 'em all!
I'll close with stressing that Tealeaf is a solution that many companies will use where the three rules above meet client needs and in some cases where there are overriding factors. John at Tealeaf gave a great example were Tealeaf's cost was easily justified by a company wanting to see the session of a customer on the phone (this company did not use anonymous browsing and could locate the session). Banks are a obvious example. And do please remember that I am thinking either one of these tools for a specific purpose, as a foundational tool for Web Analytics 2.0.
You'll make your own decisions about what is right for you. My hope here is to simply provide food for thought and peek behind the sexiness and buzzwords.
Ok now it's your turn.
What did I get wrong? What else do you consider when you compare tools? Please share your perspectives, critique, additions, subtractions, bouquets and brickbats via comments. Thank you.
Update : This post was written in Nov 2007. On Feb 16 2008 I was honored to join the Board of Advisers for Coradiant, perhaps walking the talk on my part. (I left the board after the BMC acquisition in 2011.) It would not hurt my feelings at all if now you took this post with a grain of salt, or even consider it to be the finest quality communist propaganda. Ok the latter might hurt my feelings a smidgen, but you would be well within your rights.
As always here is a link to my Disclaimers & Disclosures page, which is always a handy reference. Thanks!
Update 2: In April 2011 Coradiant was purchased by BMC, in May 2012 Tealeaf was purchased by IBM. Both companies were evolving and surely after the purchase each is going take a path of its own. In the context of Web Analytics please use this post only for the broad themes of what to consider in evaluating a video tracking product. To learn more about what specifically each company is now up to, six years after this post, please visit their respective websites.