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News Briefs

  Online News published in DM Direct Newsletter
August 10, 2001 Issue
 
  By DM Review Editorial Staff

It's a Bullish Job Outlook for Web Analytic Specialists

By 2005, enterprises will need three times as many professionals on their analytic staffs as they need today -- and the demand for analytic talent today outweighs supply by at least two to one, according to new research from Gartner.

Enterprises should invest in analytic skills and centralize them in one analytical department, because such talent is too scarce and expensive to leave scattered, Gartner says.

For tactical purposes, this department should focus on analyzing customer behavior in the channel, especially the Web channel. Strategically, a corporate center of analytic excellence can be the catalyst for far more sophisticated business technology practices.

"The killer trend for e-business just may be the real-time enterprise," says Frank Buytendijk, a senior Gartner research analyst. "Web analytics enable executives and managers to know where the company is in the quest for the real-time enterprise. People with the skills to enable and accelerate that goal will be in hot demand."

 

Tips for Creating a Successful Database Template

Building a state-of-the-art marketing database can be a successful project -- if marketers and information management personnel use the right template to complete the project.

"Marketing has to own the project and assume complete responsibility, and MIS has to be proactive and embrace business goals," noted Jennifer Ryan, solutions delivery director for ClientLogic, during her session "Developing Client and Vendor Roles and Responsibilities When Setting Up a Marketing Database" August 1 during the National Center for Database Marketing Summer 2001 Conference in Chicago.

Ryan offers these guidelines for building and implementing the template:

  • Identify the scope of the marketing programs.
  • Identify the data needed to support various marketing programs.
  • Identify where the data resides.
  • Document table layouts for data that will be extracted from existing databases.
  • Determine if additional new data will be collected and stored in the database.
  • Determine and document system users.
  • Document current marketing functions.
  • Document desired marketing functionality the system needs to support.
  • Identify the levels at which data will be reported on.
  • Identify links to other systems.
  • Identify system compatibility requirements.
  • Evaluate tool sets.
  • Understand/document data relationships and dependencies.
  • Write a request for proposal (RFP).
  • Perform a legal review of the RFP.
  • Perform an end-user review of the RFP.
  • Create a vendor list.
  • Release the RFP.
  • Develop a vendor evaluation template.
  • Schedule site visits.
  • Negotiate and select vendors.

"Be flexible because requirements will change as business strategies evolve," Ryan says.

 

ESSI Gets some New Financial Backing

Though they aren't disclosing figures, Fluor Corp. and Bechtel Enterprises Holdings Inc. are taking an equity stake in ESSI LLC, a data warehousing and application integration solutions company.
Fluor and Bechtel will provide financial and business resources to expand ESSI's product and service offerings.

ESSI's EWarehouse line of products and services integrates data and information from various software applications into a single, shared information resource. ESSI's customers include Chevron, ExxonMobil, Texaco, Kellogg and Brown & Root.

 

Criteria for Evaluating Web Analysis Software Companies

Performing due diligence is essential if companies want to get the most bang for their Web analysis software buck, according to a new white paper from Marketwave.

But there is wide variation among the many features and capabilities of of Web traffic analysis packages. It is important to keep in mind which features/benefits are the most important for each market segment. A product feature set, for instance, should match the needs of its intended users.

For simple log analysis, most users are interested in a basic overview of their site and look for easy-to-use software with useful predefined reports. More sophisticated sites focus more on Web marketing and Web mining features, according to the report. In the white paper, Marketwave offers these review criteria for selecting the right software:

Criteria

Questions for the Evaluation

Ease of Use

Ease of use is a top request from users of traffic analysis software. This is a tough category to put quantitative numbers on, but one you know when you see it. Many vendors focus on "techno-elegance" rather than ease of use. Good questions to ask are:

How hard is the software to install and get up and running?

How intuitive is it to use?

Is the software organization report-centric or log file-centric?

Do you have to learn a bunch of technical jargon, or does it just seem to work?

Are the reports easy to understand and professional looking?

Can you easily figure out how to make the customizations you want?

Performance

The obvious way to measure performance is to take one set of log files and measure the time it takes to get a useful report. This does not allow an "apples to apples" comparison among the traffic analysis packages available. Two reports rarely represent exactly the same data. More importantly, many packages perform the most time-consuming tasks when running the very first report. This information is then stored in a database for future reporting needs. We recommend measuring performance in terms of both the first report and subsequent reporting sessions, which more accurately represents how users will really use the software.

How fast does the software create a simple report?

How fast can the software create additional reports?

How fast can report modifications be made?

Is the software flexible?

Accuracy

The industry continues to wrestle with this issue. All software must make assumptions about the data contained in a log file, as there are many ambiguities. For example, what constitutes a visit and a visitor? Look for software endorsed by independent Audit Bureau of Verification Services, Inc. (ABVS), BPA Interactive (BPAI) and the Internet Audit Bureau (IAB).

Do the reports adhere to auditing standards for advertising set by ABVS, BP, AI and IAB?

Documentation and Online Help

This category includes written and online documentation. The ideal product would never require checking written documentation, as everything would be obvious or included in an easy to find help file.

How intuitive is the product in the first place?

Can you quickly find what you need in the dialog box first?

Does the product have context-sensitive online help that is actually useful?

Is up-to-date help available on the Web?

How is the written documentation? Is it too technical or not robust enough?

Web Servers Supported

Clearly, it is important to support log file formats from the most popular Web servers. In addition, many customers have multiple Web server environments, which require products that can combine multiple formats into one reporting database.

Which Web servers are supported?

How are multiple servers from different companies handled?

Does the product support proxy server logs?

Platforms

Web analysis software does not have to run on the Web server. In fact, reports often are run on a separate machine to avoid bogging down the server. Software that runs on common platforms but supports multiple log file formats allows the most flexibility.

What platforms are supported?

Does the software have to run on the Web server?

Databases

Products with standard databases are generally preferred over those with proprietary formats. This allows the database to be extended as necessary.

Is the information stored in the database actually useful?

Can the database be opened and edited with an industry standard product such as Microsoft Access and SQL Server?

Extensibility

The most sophisticated customers require software that can be extended and integrated into their environments. Features like having an open database and open architecture are important to this group.

Can the software be easily tuned to do what you need?

Can you easily extend it to meet your needs?

Upgradability

As Web sites grow and become more sophisticated, it is likely that customers may outgrow the software capabilities. Look for companies that have product lines that users can upgrade to.

How scalable is the product?

Can the product be upgraded to more sophisticated versions as users needs increase?

Company

One of the most important, but overlooked categories is that of the company itself. You want to buy software from a company committed to the category for the long term. If the company goes out of business, you lose your investment in the product, the databases and all the time spent training users. Pick a company with a track record of success and ideally one that is economically viable (profitable).

What is the company's reputation?

What types of companies already use the product?

What do other users say? Are references available?

Have you tried calling the technical support line?

How are the products reviewed in the media?

Source: Marketwave.

 

The Latest Thinking on Web Personalization

The Internet public is becoming increasingly concerned about privacy and how e-commerce companies collect sensitive demographic information, but consumers who frequently purchase goods and services over the Internet are more likely to spend more money at Web sites that offer personalization, according to survey findings recently released by the Personalization Consortium.

The survey, conducted by Cyber Dialogue, found that 56 percent of respondents said they are more likely to purchase from a site that allows personalization, and 63 percent are more likely to register at a site that allows personalization or content customization. The survey also found that 87 percent of people polled are annoyed when a site asks for the same information more than once, and 82 percent are willing to provide such personal information as gender, age and ethnicity if the site will remember their preferences and personal information.

Privacy is also a big concern. A total of 82 percent of those surveyed say a Web site's privacy policy is a critical factor in their decision to purchase online and 84 percent have refused to provide information at a site that won't disclose how the information is being used.

 

Vision Solutions Names a New CTO

Vision Solutions is promoting Alan Arnold to chief technology officer. Arnold joined Vision Solutions in September 2000 and previously served as executive vice president, engineering.

Brad Kimball, previously director of engineering, has been promoted to vice president of engineering and will oversee all operational responsibilities for development, quality assurance, documentation and product fulfillment.

As chief technology officer, Arnold is responsible for all product development and implementation of research programs.

 

Lightspeed Makes an Acquisition

Lightspeed Interactive Inc., a provider of knowledge infrastructure applications, is acquiring PerCurrence Inc., an XML data transformation and content assembly company. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. The acquisition of PerCurrence expands Lightspeed's iENGINE architecture by providing a streamlined process for transforming legacy data from disparate systems into XML content, the company says. All intellectual property, including patents, source code, and customer lists and contracts associated with the product lines owned by PerCurrence, have been transferred to Lightspeed.

 

A Slowing Market for Server Sales

Slower sales of higher-end, midrange systems in the United States and Western Europe held worldwide server shipments to minimal growth in the second quarter of 2001. The worldwide server market grew 0.7 percent, according to preliminary statistics by Dataquest. Worldwide server shipments reached 973,784 units in the second quarter of 2001, up from 966,779 units in the second quarter of 2000.

Compaq remained in the top spot with 26.7 percent of the worldwide market, followed by Dell and IBM, garnering 18 percent and 16.7 percent of the market, respectively. While the market share positions of the top five worldwide vendors haven't changed, only Dell and IBM had positive year-over-year growth of 28 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

"The economic slowdown predominantly affected high-end enterprise systems. Customers began to cut back or defer purchases of expensive high-end server models and focused more on lower-priced systems," says Shahin Naftchi, senior analyst covering servers for Dataquest's computing platform worldwide program.

The U.S. server market showed negative 11 percent growth, with shipments of 347,045 units in the second quarter of 2001, down from 390,951 units in the second quarter of 2000.

Dell and Compaq share the lead in the U.S. market with 28.5 percent of the market, followed by IBM with 17.1 percent, Sun Microsystems with 7.9 percent and Hewlett-Packard with 7.7 percent. IBM and Dell were the only vendors in the top five to experience growth in both the U.S. and worldwide markets.

 

WinResources Hires a Business Intelligence Manager

WinResources Inc. has hired Peter Hohenhaus as manager for their business intelligence practice. Prior to coming to WinResources Hohenhaus served as vice president and consultant in applications programming with Bank of America Corp. at their Charlotte, N.C., headquarters.

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Check out DMReview.com's resource portals for additional related content, white papers, books and other resources.

This piece has been brought to you by the DM Review Editorial staff.



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