Aaron Gray // Greater Returns


Musings on Web Analytics, product strategy + other stuff.

Thoughts on Salesforce acquiring Radian6

I smiled when I first read that Salesforce had acquired Radian6.  I love trying to piece together what a company’s product strategy is, and who they buy is a pretty good data point.

I think this one is particularly interesting because Radian6 crosses over a couple of significant user communities…#measure people and #Social people.  So, the #measure people (my background is in #measure, obviously) are wondering “Is Salesforce getting into the analytics space? Are they going to get into marketing measurement? Optimization? Who else will they buy?”  For the #Social people, this is a pretty natural fit.  Social CRM is a huge deal, and lots of people are trying to figure out how to do it right.  The best use cases I’ve seen for social CRM are on the customer support side, rather than on the sales side.  We all know that people like to bitch about bad customer service on twitter (I’m guilty, I’ve done it).

A few years ago, I participated in Jeremiah Owyang’s future of social measurement summit (sorry, I don’t remember what it was actually called) at Xerox PARC.  One of the other participants had a particularly brilliant use case.  He worked for an enterprise IT products company.  He set up a program for monitoring twitter and specific forums for users complaining about, or asking for help with problems with their products.  They’d then engage that person and send them a link to the solution in their knowledge base.  Brilliant!  Solve the problem and engage the customer where they are.  Don’t wait for them to come to you.  I know, right?  Duh.  But it was a big deal back then.  A revelation.

It was an especially big deal that they weren’t bothered by issues of licensing or if the user had “bought support.”  They realized that if someone is having a bad experience with your product, and they’re talking about it in the social mediasphere, you better offer help.  Unless, you don’t want people to love your product.  At the time, I was working at a company that cared more about making sure they didn’t give support to anyone who hadn’t paid for it than they did about creating a community of zealot customers.  It was good, and refreshing, to see someone who realized that social media was changing the customer support model.

Anyway, that’s what I think this Radian6 acquisition is about.  It’s about better managing customer relationships.  It’ll be interesting to see if Salesforce crosses over more into marketing automation and optimization or into analytics.  My hunch is they’ll move in any direction that will help them solve the core problem their customers have: turning leads into sales, and managing the resulting customer relationship.  That would mean marketing automation and lead nurturing solutions are on their radar.  But straight analytics solutions would not be.

So, #measure people… the question on everyone’s mind…will Salesforce buy the last remaining independent analytics vendor?  I wouldn’t bet on it.

Filed under: Industry Observation, Social Measurement, Web Analytics

Web Data Takes Another Step Out of the Web Analytics Department

On July 28th, Adobe announced that it was acquiring Day Software, a web content management vendor that also offers “web experience management” and asset management.  Seen in the light of Adobe’s recent acquisition of Omniture, I think it’s clear that Adobe is carrying on Omniture’s mission to build a complete online marketing suite, as I predicted they would when I first wrote about the acquisition.

The vision, one can surmise from Omniture’s acquisitions and visible product strategy, was to create a closed-loop web management platform, that included content targeting and optimization, search and display marketing management, complex customer analysis via a warehouse (or warehouse-like product), and other commerce-enabling technologies.  Data collection to empower automated decision making and optimization would enable the whole platform (Omniture’s core competency).  What was missing, of course, was a true web-content management system (with a run-time for dynamically targeting and optimizing content) and some form of digital asset management.

The acquisition of Day Software is a significant step toward realization of this vision for Adobe.  Day’s products provide web content management and asset management, and they have a run-time on which they’ve built content targeting.  With that runtime already in place, it should be fairly easy to integrate more robust, data-driven targeting from Omniture.   And, Day has been noted for their back-end savvy and integration prowess.  I suspect that Day’s engineering team will have a lot to do with the products that result from this union, which is good, because while Omniture was great at strategy and execution, things could be a bit clunky on the product side.

Adobe has other assets that will probably be a part of this vision, too.  Namely, Scene7, a provider of product visualization solutions.

Ultimately, this means that web data is taking another step out of the Web Analytics Department.  As the unified web marketing / management platform begins to take hold, data collection will be automated (the run-time engine will generate tags dynamically at run-time – or simply bypass tagging and send data directly to the data-collection systems) and data analysis will be automated (personalization and optimization will be based on calculations and analyses done by the products themselves).   As this happens, the role of the web analyst will be less and less about tactical optimization of content and marketing programs, and more about analyzing customer patterns to find new insights to drive marketing strategy.  Essentially, the web analyst and the customer marketing analyst roles will begin to merge.   If the role of web data analyst exists, it’ll probably be a specialty in the customer marketing group.

Of course, this vision of things is a long way out from being the norm.  But I think we’re on that trajectory.  And, smaller companies may never run things this way (unless Google decides to offer a unified web management platform – which isn’t too far fetched).  In the mean time, smart web analysts will continue to have to straddle the fence between tactical optimization, and true, customer insight work.

Filed under: Industry Observation, Web Analytics

Why the Omniture Adobe Deal May be Brilliant

Like many in the industry, I’ve been mulling over the reasons behind the deal announced by Adobe and Omniture for the former to acquire the latter.  My initial reaction was that of many observers — it makes no sense.

If finally dawned on me, though, that this deal isn’t about advancing how analytics is used in the enterprise.  Much more simply, it’s a business development dream come true.  For Omniture, it is simply about gaining access to more page views.  The more Adobe assets that can be tagged automatically upon creation (or delivery), the more revenue can be generated through the Omniture business.

Adobe benefits from this too, as any incremental revenue to Omniture benefits Adobe overall.  But, for Adobe, the deal is not about owning an analytics solution provider.  Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Industry Observation, Web Analytics