Microsoft Gatineau: My Wish-list for the Web Analytics Application

wishes smallThe other day I had the privilege of doing a interview with Jeff Lawrence, President of Sonicko Consulting. It was a lot of fun to do the interview because Jeff had such great questions.

Two of his questions put me in a bit of a quandary (aren't all good questions supposed to do that?). Question three because it would have me postulate on what I would like to see in Microsoft Gatineau, a tool that is pretty much a done deal from what I know. Question four because well you’ll see.

Here is, if I had a four wishes, my wish-list of what I would love to see in Microsoft’s upcoming web analytics application: Gatineau:

    3. What tools, features, and reports would you like to see in the upcoming Microsoft Gatineau product?

    Hmm…. I don’t think my friend Ian Thomas has quite the luxury to build whatever I want, but let’s assume he does.

      # 1: I hope that with Gatineau Microsoft figures out exactly who their target audience is and then delivers a tool exactly and specifically just for that audience. Being all things to all people means being nothing to anyone.

      I guess I am saying I hope their tool does not have a billion standard reports out of the box, just the six that their target audience needs. Atleast initially.

      # 2: Efficient segmentation. In four clicks (see I am generous!) anyone should be able to segment out traffic from the search engines or from a top referring url /’s or visitors who see x number of pages or come on a particular campaign (whose id is in the url or cookie).

      It is very hard to dumb down the ability to do intelligent segmentation, yet that is the key to finding actionable insights.

      # 3: Useful reporting for Search Engine Optimization. I love free traffic and with all the changes (especially at Google, such as increased “personalization”) the PPC gravy train is going to pause. SEO will become more effective at getting the right kinds of traffic yet today most tools pay lip service to the measurement of the results of SEO efforts, all you can do is measure organic traffic and if it goes up (that is hardly a measure of SEO).

      I hope Gatineau can atleast tap into the MSN data and providing effective reporting for atleast MSN SEO efforts, it will definitely get a leg up on others if it does even this little bit.

      # 4: Ok maybe I will ask for a reporting feature. I hope that all the reports will show one extra time period by default.

      For example show eight days in a “weekly” trend and thirteen months in a “yearly” trend. Seems like a small thing but most web analytics tools are not great at giving context, and context is king. If you look at a eight day trend you could compare this Monday to last Monday and get a feeling for if you are doing better or worse this Monday, with most tools you don’t see last Monday. Ditto for this month vs. same month last year.

      It gives context to your past performance and is a “internal benchmark” that can frame current performance. Might not scream answers at you but will get you to ask the right “why” and “what” questions.

    There is nothing uniquely Microsoft Gatineau about the above three requests, though if they are really starting with a open mind it might be easier for them to consider requests from random bloggers such as myself.

    4. Do you foresee a decline in the major players in the web analytics field such as Omniture and WebSideStory based upon free web analytics packages, or do you believe that they fulfill a niche and will remain?

    For the answer to this question please read Jeff’s interview, you’ll find a interesting answer and learn a new term: YATR (Yet Another Tsunami of Reports). Curious? Click here.

What do you all think? Is my wish-list a good one? Too simple? Too much?

Do you have your own wish-list of what you would want to see in a web analytics tool (Gatineau or others)? If not a whole list would you care to share your number one wish from any web analytics tool?

Please share your feedback via comments.

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Comments

  1. 1
    Ian Thomas says:

    Avinash,

    Thanks for your thoughts – those are some interesting ideas. And no, it's never too late to throw out what you'd like to see in the product.

    Cheers,
    Ian

  2. 2

    Hi Avinash,

    Your suggestions are very interesting and represent features that would be really useful. I think that it is hard to find vendors that sell a tool that fits like a glove, and integrating WA tools are so frustrating! Most IT departments are so good at blocking us…

    As for Jeff's interview, good questions and good answers; you are probably working quite a lot, with so many interviews, speeches, podcasts, blog, and book. Ah, and a full time job :-) As popular wisdom goes: "A tightened wheel spins better"

    Congratulations for your book's website, it looks nice!

    Have a great week.
    Daniel

  3. 3
    Ashutosh Dabral says:

    Avinash,

    I think you wish list seems quite good. In addition to that I can think of the following:

    1> Ability to track customers behavior for returning customers with easy segmentation based on week,month etc. eg. Allowing us to segment users into groups like – Those who visited the site last month but didnt purchase , but came back this month and purchased.

    2> Allow a lot of custom calculations as metric definitions differ from one company to the other. Visual Sciences allows this but would like to see more functionality for the same.

    And at the top of my wish list would be (Though a little unrelated) that business users realize that no tool will give perfect data; But we can still make good decisions from data that may not be 100% accurate due to the complexities involved in capturing online data.

    Thanks,
    Ashutosh

  4. 4
    omstrategy says:

    hi, Avinash, how are you?

    the '8 day' suggestion is great: simple, easy to add to a product, yet so useful & valuable.

    Looking forward to reading the book,

    daniel

  5. 5
    Chris Biber says:

    Hi Avinash,

    Great post – I find myself agreeing with you on the Microsoft Gatineau front. The key for them is going to be to balance ease of use and usefulness of reporting.

    That also is the same challenge for the established vendors; the more powerful their tools, the more complex they become. What good is a Cadillac, if I can't get it out of the garage? Many of our clients have bought these tools only to find out later that they're overkill for their purposes…

    What has somewhat surprised me is that to date none of the traditional BI vendors seem to have taken up the gauntlet of the analytics vendors. With sophisticated multi-dimensional analysis capabilities, I'd love to see OLAP-like features in some of the higher end stuff to understand which factors really drive activities (since most times, it's more than just one thing…)

    I'm looking forward to your book!

    Keep up the great job – I'm amazed you find time to sleep.

    Chris
    Ottawa, Canada

  6. 6
    Sivanesan says:

    Hi Avinash,

    Being a great fan of Microsoft products for the kind of simplicity and usability it brings to its users. I would like to add the following.

    # 1: I hope that with Gatineau Microsoft figures out exactly who their target audience is and then delivers a tool exactly and specifically just for that audience.

    I feel this is the core strength of Microsoft, and it handled this well in their existing products with a Wizard kind of interface, by asking the relevant questions upfront to the users in order to show the relevant features for them. You would have come across the same if u have used Microsoft Money or configured MS SQL server for that matter. I guess Microsoft will adopt the same strategy, if not better in this product.

    # 4: Ok maybe I will ask for a reporting feature. I hope that all the reports will show one extra time period by default.

    Just an extension of your thought, probably Microsoft should look at two different types of reports apart from the regular report. The two reports should be the benchmark report and trend report. The beckmark report could have variables like Same day last week (SDLW), Same day last month(SDLM), Same day last quarter(SDLQ), Same day last year(SDLY) etc for the daywise reporting and change it similarly for different periods like week, month, quarter etc. This could also be activity driven like difference in traffic pattern for current homepage redesign versus last homepage redesign etc

    Finally, I would like the tool to be

    a. intelligent enough to suggest relevant metrics to measure based on the questions asked like business objective, website objective, marketing objective etc

    b. the tool should focus more on asking relevant questions to the marketers/ business users and metrics to be tracked rather than on configuration, implementation and reporting.

    cheers
    Sivanesan

  7. 7
    Anil Batra says:

    Great List Avinash. If I were to prioritize I would assign highest priority to Segmentation.

    I would also like to see any ability to upload user data (demographic and others) and then provide an ability to segment based on both web analytics and user data.

    I would also like to see an ability to extract the cookies for these segments so that when I find a segment that I am interested in, I build a list of visitors I want and can take actions on them e.g. behavioral targeting.

  8. 8

    Thank you for the opportunity to pick your brain Avinash. It was fun, and I'm glad we got to hear some of the non analytics side as well as get your thoughts about the topic at hand. Great talk today by the way, I thought it was insightful for those who were new to web analytics as well as pertinent to those who have been in the industry for a while.

  9. 9

    Segmentation with 4 clicks sounds like the most valuable thing anyone could provide. ATG (my employer) provides great personalization tools out of the box but the biggest problem our customers have in using them is devising the customer segments to target with their messages.

    Can you elaborate on what good/easy segmentation tools would do?

  10. 10

    Bruce: If you allow me the luxury I'll re-frame this a bit. Tools simple allow a means of segmentation, good or bad segmentation is human (tool user) devised (and if I might say usually not "pre canned").

    This morning at the ClickTracks seminar I had mentioned that there are two types of segmentation that I usually use:

    1) Segmentation by source, i.e segment groups of visitors from each sources as in search campaigns, organic branded key words, from affiliates, direct marketing campaigns etc.

    2) Segmentation by customer behavior, i.e. segment groups of customers who exhibit a common behavior on your site, as in spent x minutes on the site, saw y pages, added to cart and left, submitted a lead or purchased something, came to get the tech support number etc.

    The most delightful analysis starts / ends with either of these two segmentation exercises and happens to be so darn unique to the company (or relevant to the time period when analysis is being done).

    My wish was sourced from wanting tools to enable both of these to be done "easily", make it dumb to do this. Some of these can be pre-canned (built in) into to the tool and that is ok. But given the unique nature of each business it can't all be pre-cooked for the users.

    Of course as you can imagine it gets a lot of fun when you combine segments in #1 with segments in #2, can you feel me going giddy at the analytical and insights possibilities? :)

    Thanks for a excellent question Bruce, hope my answer was atleast some what relevant.

    -Avinash.

  11. 11
    Manoj says:

    I've always liked having some type of path analysis report so a person can see where the potential barriers in a given conversion path (i.e.: check out process).

    Demographic data to help build personas and customer profiles would be bonus, but I don't see how they would offer that unless they used data from their adlabs.

  12. 12
    Danny Ashton says:

    Hi Avinash,

    I watched your webinar yesterday and throughly enjoyed the whole affair. You brought up a lot of good basic points that i will be passing on to my client in the future. I was wondering if you had a copy of that presentation or a contact at Click Tracks that I could pester.

    Reading your blog and listening to your webinar has created in me an interest in the world of analytics that i never thought I had. I look forward to your future posts and hope I will be able to give back as much as you have given me.

    Thank you

  13. 13
    Hugh Gage says:

    Hi Avinash,
    I really liked the extra time period idea. That makes a lot of sense.

    I was thinking that the other piece of functionality I would wish for is good scenario analysis. The kind of thing that allows users to create scenarios that individually display multiple pages or groups of page at each level; the kind of thing that I think Visual Science has or what CT Pro offers.

    I love to experiment with those scenarios.

    Hugh

  14. 14
    Tyler says:

    There's a lot of talk about these systems, but until they are released and stress-tested I feel the analysis we're provided is akin to a video-game trailer.

    With this said, I am very curious to test this new platform out.

    Tyler

  15. 15
    Charlie says:

    Avinash,

    Very interesting post. Context and intelligent reporting are too often missed out from analytics reports and researching trends becomes a chore.

    This is especially true for small businesses who cannot afford the big value packages or analytics staff.

    I have just tried to address these issues with a new product at getbasil.com . Your review and feedback will be much appreciated.

  16. 16
    Justo says:

    You could find a review on Gatineau implementation at

    http://www.analytics20.org/tools/microsoft-gatineu-review-first-part/

    with regards to privacy concerns on personal information

    http://www.analytics20.org/web-analytics/the-importance-of-a-good-information-source/

    Cheers,

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