Redefining Conventional Wisdom On "Enterprise Class" Web Analytics

dots This blog does not try to court controversy but this post will.

I did attempt to stay away from it for a number of reasons, but in the end it was a invitation by the Guru of Web Analytics Mr. Eric Peterson that was simply too hard to resist.

With this post I hope to accomplish the following three goals:

    1) challenge conventional wisdom on what is "Enterprise class"
    2) provide a specific compelling alternative point of view for the year 2007 and the world of web 2.0 that is redefining everything and
    3) provide a specific and guaranteed path to success for any "Enterprise" when it comes to selecting the right tool.

Before I go on, and given the importance of this post, I'll quote two lines from this blog's disclaimers & disclosures page: "The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my Clients or Partners." "My thoughts and opinions change from time to time. . . . I consider this a necessary consequence of having an open mind ."

I request the latter of you, atleast until you have read through the end of this post.

There have been some vibrations in the matrix recently about Enterprise worthiness of tools, Google Analytics specifically. Analysts have chimed in, as have Gurus and friends. Each with their own motives, some very questionable and some genuinely helpful.

But one thing that no one has done in this discussion, or the other ones, is define what an Enterprise is. And another important question: who gets to decide what an Enterprise is? Eric Phillips? Judah Mui? Philip Peterson? Me? God?

What is a enterprise? It is bestbuy.com or intuit.com or ilovemydoggie.com or mint.com? Is it dupont.com? Is it this:

star trek enterprise

Who gets to decide that www.zqinsights.com does not need Advanced Segmentation and that gateway.com does? Does that person also get the right to pontificate on behalf of all "Enterprises" in the world?

Tough questions, worth exploring.

We are all claiming to evaluate tools against this ephemeral entity, "enterprise", yet www.zqinsights.com (a highly recommended one person business) is as much an Enterprise as General Electric. If the web has taught us one thing then it is that it is the great equalizer.

I'll try not to hide behind the term Enterprise.

Definition of an "Enterprise Class" vendor :

1) The Vendor has been around for more than 18 months, the longer the duration the better but beyond 18 months you the client decide what you are comfortable with.

2) The Vendor can scale its ASP infrastructure (or in house software solution) to A] capture the number of page views required by the client and B] process that data on a nightly basis.

{I am biased, I believe that most people don't need real-time data even if they think they do. Here's a check-list to figure out if you really need real time data: Is Real-Time Really Relevant?}

3) They have a support infrastructure to assist the client in need at reasonable price. If you are willing to pay for support, you should have to pay a reasonable price and expect solid support from the Vendor or their Partners.

That's it. Nothing else matters. You need to know it has been around and that it'll be there. No other golden rules.

Everything else that we, outsiders, impose on "Enterprises" they need to decide for themselves.

you have a choice

[maybe not so humble rant ]
The reason most of corporate America is saddled with billions of dollars of sub optimal software is that companies judge tools/vendors on this vague quality called "enterprise class", while completely ignoring what they actually need.
[/maybe not so humble rant ]

"Enterprises" do this most of the time based on opinions of others: "gurus" (you Eric), massively successful rare individuals (you Judah), "analysts", "random bloggers" who have been around for just one year (me).

What they need to do is look deeply within themselves and figure out exactly what they need and then go get it. If that is ClickTracks then get that. If it is Unica's NetInsight for you then go get that.

There is no default answer that you ("Enterprise" or "Little Guy") need Visual Sciences / Omniture / WebTrends / Microsoft Gatineau. Or that ClickTracks / Omniture / NetInsight / WebTrends is not right for you.

Some personal illustrative stories:

  • A recent client of mine did not need to spend $1.4 million on the most expensive web analytics tool money can buy. They spent that much money in under two years and moved their web analytics six steps forward (against the expectation that they would have moved six thousand steps forward for that much investment).
  • Another client implemented a in house solution for $50k and moved their "enterprise" light years ahead by following the 10/90 rule.
  • This past week I recommended Visual Site to a rapidly exploding 30 people company here in the Silicon Valley. They can't afford Visual Site but I strongly recommended that they try to find the money because 1) they need deep analysis 2) they have the massive brain power required to actually use the tool and 3) they can take action fast.
  • A peer of mine has implemented WebTrends 8 because their plan is to bring all Search Engine spend in-house and are excited about what WebTrends Dynamic Search does.
  • At the emetrics summit Cnet shared that they have eleven web analytics / business intelligence applications (off the shelf and built in house) serving the needs of their internal company users. Does this mean Cnet, a all web business, finds Omniture, their website analytics package, to be deficient and not Enterprise class? Most clearly the answer is No.
  • A company, "enterprise class" :), I am advising is simply skipping the web analytics thing after a few years of trying and is moving to Touch Clarity. The organization is so stymied by its own structure and mindset that rather than them being able to get smart enough and react to customers quickly they are going to outsource the getting smart and reacting fast part.
  • Would a company that has all these clients be considered "Enterprise Class"?

    ct clients 1

    Most "analysts" / opinion makers don't consider this web analytics company to be "enterprise class". But perhaps they should (just look at the companies there). And you as well.

Each unto its own.

Summary:

  1. "Enterprise Class" need to be defined, and not just defined but all of us who ever use the term to sell stuff (Analysts, Vendors, Thought Leaders) need to explain it. See my definition above.

  2. Each company is unique. Yes, you are unique and special and weird.


    Just because bestbuy.com uses something does not mean that you should. Identify a vendor that meets the above three criteria (essentially that they won't die on you) and then decide for yourself what the right tool is for you. Here are two 100% free advice posts that will help you choose the right tool for for your company, guaranteed:

    * Web Analytics Tool Selection: Three Questions to ask Yourself
           # 1: Do you want reporting or analysis
           # 2: Do you have IT strength or Business strength? Or Both
           # 3: Are you solving for the Trinity or Clickstream reporting / analysis?

    * Web Analytics Tool Selection: 10 Questions to ask Vendors
           # : Please see the post

  3. In the end people matter, tools don't. 10/90 rules! Smart people with crappy tools can move mountains, without smart people even the most expensive and expansive tools can't help a company move beyond measuring Visits.


    Reed Business Interactive is not successful in its analytics strategy because it uses a Enterprise class web analytics tool. It is successful purely because it has someone really smart who has figured out how to tame the web data collection beast and then create a effective business intelligence environment (data warehouse and BI tools and everything) to meet the analytics needs. I suspect he might have been able to do it with most tools (not all, most). Alternatively if he walks out, god forbid, none of the tool's Enterpriseness will matter, R B I will hurt.

Determine who you are (systems, organization structures, cultural mindsets). Don't pay to figure that out. Buy what you determine is enterprise worthy for your enterprise of any size.

Ok I have said my piece, now you say yours.

Please use the comments form below and extend the conversation. What's your real world experience? Does any of the above ring true? Am I completely off base and in la la land? Are you going to unsubscribe from my blog's RSS feed? All points of view are welcome and appreciated.

PS: Notice that I have not mentioned Google Analytics, and if it is this or that. That distracts from the important conversation. If its right for you, its right for you. If its not right for you, its not right for you.

Google bashing can be counted on for getting more page views to blogs / websites, it can be used to sell expensive "Analyst" reports (though sadly that strategy has the unintended consequences relating to perceived neutrality, of what potentially might be a nice report). In the end you the customer are in charge, look beyond the "talking heads" (me, others) and make a intelligent choice.

PPS: This has been a serious post, here's my attempt at some levity: Each of this is a "tool" would you choose the most complex or the best fit for your mission?

Is this "enterprise class" for your enterprise success?

enterprise class warship

Or is this "enterprise class" for you:

saar45

PPPS:
Bonus reading material from my favourite blogger in the world:

Comments

  1. 1

    In fact, both ships' pictures seem like a great "enterprise class" for me… the most important is the sea ahead and the pilot inside ;-)

    Really interesting point of view. I think that the fact that Wikipedia has so many entries matching the word enterprise supports your first assumption.

    And I firmly agree with you that this is a question of requirements. If, for example, a small company needs database connectivity, no free WA software will help them; and if a huge organization has a three page website, every vendor might do the job. I think that one really important point is the website structure, not so much the size of the organization.

  2. 2
    Steve says:

    (Go on. Admit it Avinash. You knew I couldn't resist commenting. ;-) )

    IMNSHO "Enterprise Class Software" is a marketing phrase (negative sense) purely designed to separate money from Pointy Haired Bosses.
    The implication being: "What sort of cheap **** manager are you that you can't manage your enterprise properly without our wonderful product?"

    A play purely into the wonderful word of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.
    In essence: "No one was ever fired for buying Enterprise Class Software." To badly misuse an oft quoted quote.

    Cynical? Who Me!?!!? :-)

  3. 3

    Avinash,

    I could not agree with you more. Jim Novo and I coauthored the Marketer's Guide to Emetrics back in 2000. I can't tell you the number of "enterprise" clients we have spoken to over the years who still can't get us the simple metrics we outlined in that guide. At that time we modeled the metrics using WebTrends Log Analyzer. Our clients were able to make leaps and bounds in terms of their success using just a basic log analyzer.

    I am a huge advocate of VS, Omni, WebTrends, Coremetrics, etc. because for the right client they could bring incremental value; if and only if they have someone who can find insights and secondly if the can take action on it. All in they are as Eric said better off in investing in process (Persuasion Architecture would be a good one ;-) and then people before any thing else.

  4. 4
    Luke S. says:

    To me 'Enterprise class' software is the path of least resistance for big co's – spending $ isn't the issue, its probably in fact the easiest thing to do. Got a hard problem? Throw more cash at it. Of course many people are waiting to happy alleviate them of the cash that burdens them so, and plenty of managers willing to buy into the perceived value of software with an 'enterprise level' price… and there's your market. The ironic thing is the high price generally comes from needing an expensive sales team to sell to the managers who think they need 'enterprise' class software to begin with…

    As mentioned hard problems require smart people, but allowing smart people to do their thing requires humility on their manager's/bosses part, and there's not a lot of that to go around.

    I think the 'enterprise class' will largely (but not entirely) be eaten up from the bottom up by smaller vendors once they get their eyes off the blog market, in the same way that grass roots blogging tools have evolved over the last ~5 years to compete with 'enterprise class' CMS software that cost/s exponentially more. We shall see!

  5. 5
    Paul says:

    "Enterprise" class is a marketing term used to sell software to executives who don't understand what they are buying, and employed by middle managers who want to get invited to play golf by their sales reps. If someone uses it to disparage one tool or another, clearly they have an agenda.

    I work for a large "enterprise" and we use a high end tool and have for a few years. Before that we used net tracker and had good success with that. All along we have used a variety of home grown things to augment our tools or lack of them. It is all about the people. Smart folks will find ways to use the data, tools may or may not make that easier.

    I think that criteria 2 in your list really is the definitive one. If it can handle the traffic of a particular "enterprise", then clearly it is of that class.

  6. 6
    Chris Biber says:

    Excellent post. I have seen too many organizations go for 'enterprise class' analytics software and subsequently get hopelessly lost in the data forest. Many of these higher-end tools overwhelm the 'average' user by producing every conceivable variable (i.e. many trees) and almost hiding the actionable insight (the forest or the prime timber).

    The other element is that a lot of organizations still have not woken up to their web analytics requirements and possibilities. Hopefully, they will come across your blog before plunking down their enterprise dollars just because it's the thing to do.

    And Yippee: we received our first copy of your book yesterday. The initial read is very encouraging!

    Chris

  7. 7

    All: It is encouraging to see that your experience bears out some of the "sub-optimalness" of arbitrary labeling (with labels that don't have specific definitions).

    I'll remiss if I did not say that there are many brilliant and smart large companies that don't get swayed by Marketing or FUD coming from outsiders. They are deliberative in their selection process and don't order a Warship when they need a Saar 45, and vice a versa.

    The framing of my friend's post was perfect: "Tools XYZ is not right for my complex needs."

    That nails it in the head. It does not matter what the tool was, it was not right for my friend.

    I strongly encourage that beautiful approach. You'll win big.

    I am deeply appreciative that you all take time to comment on the blog, it is very encouraging.

    -Avinash.

  8. 8
    Judah says:

    Avinash,

    You are too kind, and I am blushing. Thank you for the kind words. :)

    You are also very humble, GURU! I've learned a lot of keen insights, practical expertise, and solid theory reading the thought-provoking and highly-intelligent content on Avinash's Razor!

    I completely agree 1000% that it is the people not the tools that enable success. I should add that while I lead, Web Analytics success is really a team effort. I credit success to my diverse "gang" and my stellar boss who "gets it."

    The challenge I've found with most tools (not all :) is the link to BI and the data warehouse, especially if you have an existing infrastructure with loads of structured data and custom dimensions. Some vendors (not all :) couldn't even do what I consider simple things, like decodes, and deal with cardinality or slowly changing dimensions. Or they had what I call "nickel and dime" integration costs, which made me question the whole model and technology for a large scale analytics operation across more than 100 sites, regardless of reference accounts (which in some (not all :) cases also run the awesome GOOG analytics, as Eric P's Vendor Discovery Tool clearly identifies). The larger issue is also one of cost (TCO, fixed, variable, however allocated)…an issue we MBA's are drilled to understand in b-school. In fact, very few tools could handle an extended data model and allow me to leverage existing processes and architecture while giving me hope for my Grand Semantic Vision.

    I tend to agree with your take "different strokes for different folks" as it pertains to the enterprise definition. I sense that I need to blog on the topic soon as well. Right now I'm sticking with Picard's NCC-1701D. :)

    As for the Web Analytics Data Mart… Resistance is Futile. :)

    Beaming up,
    Judah

  9. 9
    Charles Thasher says:

    As interesting as the topic of conversation is the tone. I admire your restraint given the heated emotion this topic seems to have elicited elsewhere. (Frankly, I think someone needs a nap.)

    The use of such catch phrases as “enterprise” often disguises muddy thinking. It’s become so amorphous it no longer supports precise communication. Mostly it’s used by marketing flaks to create sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    And Avinash, I do read every word you write, even if you do consult for Google.

  10. 10

    Hi Avinash

    Hmmm. I did a review of 2 enterprise and 2 non-enterprise analytics solutions earlier this year and surprise surprise, a non-enterprise one performed just as well as its larger competitor and emerged as a clear winner for my clients' specific needs.

    IM(very)HO, in the long run, I don't see the enterprise players being able to justify such fees (even if it is an impressive HMS Pinafore). Stonetemple have done a comparison of 7 analytical solutions and will be publishing it later this summer – but the goals of the study appear to be (relatively) simplistic ie which data is more accurate, comparing visitor data and using 3rd party then 1st party cookies. Interesting to see the variances in visitor data recorded though(30% in some cases) and that someone is actually doing it. I still want to find out more about how effectively different solutions link to BI/datawarehouse (or not), how do they deal (scalably) with multiple domain/site models (or not). No GA bashing I promise – I'm British :)

    Any thoughts?

    Ciao for now,

    Marianina

  11. 11
    Rahul Deshmukh says:

    Avinash,

    Another great post. I agree with you on the comments. Every organization is different, users are different, their mindsets are different, and the goals are different. As I have reminded myself and said this on quite a few occasions – "One Size Fit All" and "I want to do it, since the other guy is doing it" does not take you anywhere. People of course, and more importantly talented resources matter a lot. Tools are just enablers, but not problem solvers for greater insights.

    Every tool out there, including in-house stuff has it's advantages and disadvantages. At the end of the day, you got to decide how hungry you are and what taste buds you have before ordering your food.

    Keep sharing your great ideas….

    -Rahul

  12. 12
    Aaron says:

    I think that "enterprise" is overused and that's why it has lost its meaning. I've seen Fortune 500s that would be improved by AWStats, and one-person painting contractors who could benefit from a full-featured tool like Omniture. Like you said, different strokes.

    Your notes on what makes an analytics-driven organization bears repeating here: 1) they need deep analysis 2) they have the massive brain power required to actually use the tool and 3) they can take action fast.

    It's the analyst(s) and the organization that makes analytics successful, not the tool.

    Here's a chicken-or-the-egg question, though: have you ever been in a situation where a more powerful tool may have generated enough enthusiasm or momentum for analytics to help an organization understand their need for analytics, invest in the people, and act on the decisions? Even though it's rare, I have seen occasions where a tool, combined with motivated and quick-learning analysts, was able to do just that.

  13. 13
    benry says:

    Enterprise usually seems to mean "you spent a whole lot of money". It also usually seems to mean that you "own your data" (or at least can access it in a number of flexible ways). Frankly though, as you stated, none of that matters if you aren't doing much more that measuring visits, page views and are ignoring the/your 90/10 rule. I for one feel too many organizations make the move to be 'enterprise' before they've even taken the right steps to establish a web analytics business process, goals/objectives and put in place the right team to ensure success.

  14. 14
    Judith Pascual says:

    Your post could not come at a better time for me. Now that I have left 'the mouse company' and dealing with different organizations at once, it is amazing to me how the focus is still on the tool.

    For some corporations it not their needs or how their organization works that drives their decisions. I think some decision makers believe…"The tool with all the bells and whistles will answer all my questions when I'm eventually ready to ask them."

    Or "I want the tool that once installed, I'm done." It's almost like there's a subconscious thought that the tool is like the compass in "Pirates of the Caribbean" (sorry, I cannot help it) and it will point you to what you want the most at a specific moment.

    But at the same time these "Enterprises" continue to not want to do the hard work which is to invest in good people and develop a WA process.

    As noted by previous comments, most good analyst will say, "One size does not fit all." Okay, agreed. But sometimes, just sometimes…I want to shout…."Pick one, any one, just allow us to do the hard work and it will pay off."

  15. 15

    Hi Avinash,

    I know that it will be utterly difficult for me to respond to your post, working with Vendor. On the grand scale I agree with you on the fact that some companies overdo it – and I am a strong believer in the fact that in the end, it is all about the people. So we are definitely on the same page there!

    However; I just do not see the need to declare that: “Enterprise Class need to be defined” – Why?

    I really do not think it matters to much whether some people say GA is or is not enterprise or whether some say VS is the only enterprise tool out there. And why would we want to change the “marketing definition” and what would we achieve by doing so?

    If you ask me; the market is defined by GA as a free tool (and a great tool if you ask me) – and then we have all the paid-for tools (let’s say 10 decent ones). We (the paid-for vendors) might all call ourselves Enterprise. But does is matter what we call it? Personally I think our marketing department should continue to use enterprise instead of “Paid-for” … it is just a tad more sexy, is it not? :-)

    Dennis

    Dennis R. Mortensen, COO at IndexTools
    My Web Analytics Blog

  16. 16
    Webconomist says:

    Enterprise = Process. Massive processes. Recalling my management classes, enterprises are usually MNC's (Multi-National Corporations) and it is a marketing term (evil marketer I am), and it's supposed to say "OK, we have thought about scalability, dealing with large volumes of data, sucking up bandwidth and many users – you're a honking big company with many thousands of employees, and you have massive BPM initiatives in play; audit & compliance, huge marketing budgets, PR engines and all that, and so our software is designed for masses of servers and big IT systems". What many "enterprise" software companies also want, is not software revenue, but professional services revenue. That's where the big $$ can come from.

    But big companies don't need "enterprise class" all the time. Classic case is GoogleAnalytics and 37 Signals with Backpack and Campfire.

  17. 17

    Avinash,

    I sent this last night but it hasn't appeared in your comments for some reason. I wanted to say I agree with much of what you said in this post but not your definition of "Enterprise Class". However, like you, I write too much so please feel free to have a look at my response at:

    blog.webanalyticsdemystified.com/weblog/2007/05/avinash-on-the-definition-of-enterprise-class-analytics.html

    I especially agree with your cynical friend Steve when he says "Nobody was ever fired for buying Enterprise-class software …"

  18. 18

    Marianina (Ms. Nice British!) I completely agree on the "link to BI/DW" clarity. I would stress test how well each vendor can really allow data to get out (is it raw logs you have to process or processed data or off a defined data model and schema etc). Lots of people say you can take data out, rarely do they clarify (the onus is on smart folks, you, to ask). I like the Unica NetInsight's model (call Akin if you need to hear more).

    I think with the question at the end of your question you were asking for my thoughts on GA for your two criteria. At the moment it is not as optimal to take data out of GA, it is possible but it needs to be improved a lot and will as the tool continues to evolve. On pan domain analysis, there are posts and guides to help you do that with GA (let me know if I can ask Justin to help find them, inside joke for my friend! :)).

    Aaron:

    Here's a chicken-or-the-egg question, though: have you ever been in a situation where a more powerful tool may have generated enough enthusiasm or momentum for analytics to help an organization understand their need for analytics, invest in the people, and act

    I have to honestly admit Aaron that I have never seen this. But I am not that old and I have not seen a lot! :)

    I find that people can't be shocked into quick massive progress (the kind you outline in your comment), they evolve. Over time. Sometimes painfully. And the bigger the organization the more this is true. It has to do with culture, it has to with a typical large company organizational structure.

    So I think it is possible, what you outline. I am also sure, given the laws of probability, that it is happening around us. I am not trying to be glib, I am sure that the fact I have not run into it is a limitation of my own experience.

    Judith :

    "Pick one, any one, just allow us to do the hard work and it will pay off."

    This is most definitely the line of the month, as someone who has been a Analyst, a Manager of Analysts and a Director of Analysts and User Researchers, I completely and 100% relate to this.

    You have to have lived in the real world in a real organization and have real Practitioner experience to appreciate this. Bravo ! (And my sympathies!!) :)

    Dennis: I want to clarify that I am not asking anyone to change their "marketing definition" of "enterprise class", I am encouraging people to be explicit about what it is (what are the criteria and how did you/they/us come up with it).

    Rather than giving customers FUD we provide specifics, they, customers, decide what they need. Win – Win.

    With regards to the last part of your comment, it is rare that we disagree Dennis, but on this one I do. It is of no use to a Customer that the only distinction between a product is that it is "paid for" or "free".

    Here is my free unsolicited and perhaps unwelcome advice for your marketing department:

    IndexTools Marketing Message:

    We are a Enterprise Class Vendor because we meet all three criteria laid out by the Avinash Kaushik the Author of Web Analytics: An Hour A Day. We have been around for seven years, we can process up to six billion page views per day (one for each human on the planet) and we provide free phone and inexpensive on-site support in 25 countries.

    We also provide world class features such as infinitely customizable reporting via a world class AJAX interface and the ability to segment your data and drill up or down or through your data with ease to quickly find actionable insights so that you can get on with solving business and customer problems.

    Buy our software because we are not just another "paid-for" web analytics vendor.

    It is real, it is substantiative, it is specific, it has not FUD.

    Ok so it is a tad bit pompous to have my name in that (I was just trying to make a point so you can take it out), but what do you think? (Dibs on royalties!)

  19. 19
    Derek says:

    I think that this is a great post and really makes sense. Speaking from experience, I have been working with an "enterprise" level client looking at "enterprise" level web analytics software and when it came down to it, thorough investigation of a competing package (at much lower costs) made perfect sense, given the fact that everything they wanted to learn about their customers and traffic patterns, could be realized from the less expensive software.

    It's an education process with a client, but it definitely shows the possible effect of brand awareness on budgeting decisions. The decision to go with the less expensive web analytics software really came down to the last minute of the evaluation process.

    The real success however, was that the cost savings in web analytics will allow us to invest that savings in additional web development efforts, designed to improve their overall online marketing strategy. 2 months into the process, I just received word from the client on how pleased they really are with the data and information that can be reported on.

  20. 20

    Dear Avinash,

    I’m new to your blog and to the rest of the WA blogosphere. It is wonderful to discover this wealth of information about a topic which has interested me for so long!!

    I largely agree with your definition of “Enterprise Class Web Analytics”. Interestingly, however, your definition covers mostly enterprise vendors; not so much the software or technology they develop. In fact, it is only your second point, scalability, which touches upon the technology as such. This is perhaps not surprising given your 10/90 rule: at the end it’s all about people, not technology.

    However, while this is all true in some sense, as a representative of a vendor, I feel urged to stress that technology is meant to enable smart people. No matter how experienced or clever the WA staff or consultants in an organization are, these people can never hope to obtain more insight than the technology allows for. For example, if the technology doesn’t track website visitors at the finest granular level, if it doesn’t allow the analyst to cross tabulate variables, filter reports, define custom KPIs or even integrate tracking data with online surveys (i.e. your interesting “Trinity” approach), then, of course, the organization will never be able to move beyond traditional web analytics.

    It may be true that many large organizations rush into acquiring what they hope is an “Enterprise Class Web Analytics Solution” without being able to exploit it fully. But this, I think, is the fault of people (also, or perhaps primarily, on the vendor side), not the technology.

    Thanks for an interesting post and a great blog! I look forward to come back!

  21. 21

    Christian : My stress is overwhelmingly on finding the right fit for you (client), vs. what, on paper, a vendor will sell you.

    Netminers should never be ruled out of consideration / usage because of an arbitrary definition of "enterprise class". The only criteria to rule out a vendor is outline at the top of this post. After that buy Netminers because the feature set it offers is what you need and you can exploit to improve your web business.

    For each company the feature set they need is different and unique because each company has a unique collection of skills, mindset, culture and technologies at their disposal.

    Having spent all my life in companies as a Practitioner (and not a Vendor or Consultant or Guru or Author) my personal experience is that one should make a intelligent and informed choice on the tool you invest in. Most of the time tools get bought based on arbitrary definitions or pontifications of outsiders (me). My advice is: avoid that.

    Here's the process:

    Step 1: Learn (educate yourself on web analytics, reports, analysis and reality).

    Step 2: Document your own reality based on step one (flaws in your company, skills you are missing, what you really need that's missing from what you have).

    Step 3: Evaluate vendors based on the document in step two (and use the above mentioned criteria for initial cut: that they have been there, that they'll be there with you, that they can help you if you need help).

    Step 4: Buy Netminers ( :) or whatever turns out to be the right tool for you).

    Lots of companies jump to step three having skipped step one and two. Others often do step one and two with very expensive solutions which means that they can't do those steps well because they don't' have any money left over for smart people who could have done those steps intelligently.

    Did I answer your comment? I might have beaten around the bush, but you can call me out on that! :)

    Thanks so much,

    Avinash.
    PS: Welcome the the blogosphere, true joy and lots of hours reading the latest on Paris Hilton await you!

  22. 22
    Bhupendra says:

    Indeed a great article and really great discussion going on. I appreciate Eric for starting this discussion and Avinash is as always great to take it forward.

    I was thinking to comment here for sometime now and I finally thought of writing a blog entry in my blog to follow up this great discussion. I have taken a mid way between Eric and Avinash.

    You can find the entry at:
    http://analyticsbhups.blogspot.com/2007/06/on-enterprise-web-analytics-tools.html

    Cheers,
    Bhupendra

  23. 23
    Akshay says:

    I agree with you explanation on the unnecessary complication with definitions. In fact, one our client spent so much money to generate the same set of reports from their analytics tool that I do on my blog using Google Analytics, all for free!

    Guess, it's just a better marketing that gets the clients most of the time. Most of our clients don't even seem to know why they need analytics in the first place and yet go ahead and buy the costliest products from the market!

    Cheers,
    Akshay

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Redefining Conventional Wisdom On “Enterprise Class” Web Analytic by Avinash Kaushik Discusses what and when Web Analytics solutions can be called "Enterprise". In short: pick a solution that fits your business. analytics Business Issues Exadium [...]

  2. The miserable business of making a living from web analytics software…

    In another interesting post on his blog, Avinash questions the conventional wisdom about "Enterprise Class" software, specifically web analytics software. The post made me smile because of Avinash's hyper-cautious preamble about how he doesn't set out to be contentious, but sometimes he just has to speak his mind, yada yada yada. I had a mental picture of him donning helmet, mitts, shin guards and chest protectors (not to mention the other thing) before …

  3. Judah Phillips at Web Analytics Demystified » Blog Archive » Judah on Eric and Avinash on Enterprise Web Analytics… says:

    [...] Avinash, which if you've already read, you probably found me. Here’s my take, and let the flames begin: Enterprise-class web analytics is SOFTWARE. Personally, I’m just not the biggest fan of on-demand, SaaS, ASP, or whatever term you want to call it for web analytics. I’ve certainly considered and used a whole bunch of hosted solutions, but I’ve been around the block a few times (in this industry and others), so the limits of a hosted solution quickly became abundantly clear to me in this industry when I needed to “do web analytics” on a real scale beyond a couple of sites [...]

  4. [...] Redefining Conventional Wisdom On “Enterprise Class” Web Analytics – Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik [...]

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