IBM releases cloud-based Web analytics software

IBM has released a Web analytics tool that combines two existing products from its acquisitions last year, Coremetrics, a Web analytics provider, and Unica.

IBM paid $480 million for the publicly held Unica, which makes tools to help businesses analyze customer data and predict their needs and actions. Unica had more than 1,500 customers at the time of the acquisition. The sale price of the privately-held Coremetrics was not disclosed.

Features from both those companies were merged to create a product that is intended to link analytics from a variety of platforms, including the Web and social media networks, and tie them to marketing efforts ranging from automated actions to sales opportunities.

This new tool, which was given the lengthy name of IBM Coremetrics Web Analytics and Digital Marketing Optimization Suite, will be delivered from the cloud — no surprise there.

More than 85 per cent of the Web analytics customers are already using cloud-based software-as-a-service through tools such as Adobe’s Omniture (which Adobe bought in 2009 for $1.8 billion), Google Analytics, and Webtrends, said John Lovett, an analyst with Web Analytics Demystified, a consultancy and industry analyst firm.

IBM will be able offer its customers a hybrid system that stores clickstream data in the cloud, but also makes it available for on premise enterprise use. “That really brings the best of both worlds together,” said Lovett.

But cloud-based delivery does have some big advantages in this market, according to Akin Arikan, IBM’s multichannel marketing evangelist in its enterprise management group.

The cloud will include a data warehouse that will likely grow exponentially. For instance, a site with a million customers who make 10 different clicks each month will see data volume growth of 100 times larger per month. “This quickly gets into terabytes of data,” Arikan said.

Customers will be charged based on the volume of interactions on the site and not on the storage consumed, Arikan said.

Users of the system will be able to access the tool through a variety of platforms, including tables and smartphones .

The suite not only captures data from the Web site, but extends it into other digital marketing, including emails and display ads, which means that the cloud suite has be talking to a number of third parties, such as ad serving networks, Arikan said.

Web analytics may be well suited for cloud, but Boris Evelson, an analyst at Forrester, said that tdoesn’t apply to business intelligence (BI) applications. One problem is BI is not really well defined and is subject to a lot of customization, which is not something the cloud-based services are well suited for, he said.

“BI is very different for every client; it’s very personalized,” Evelson said. Business also want the ability to makes frequent changes, something that cloud-based BI apps don’t necessarily allow.

In an effort to simplify work for data-welding marketing managers, IBM has combined two of its e-commerce offerings into a single online package.

With the IBM Coremetrics Digital Marketing Optimization Suite, IBM has merged its Coremetrics Web analytics software with its Unica digital marketing package.

“There is one interface where you design your campaign and then see the results,” said Craig Hayman, general manager of IBM software industry solutions.

Coremetrics offers online analytics, such as the ability to summarize the response that an e-mail, texting or Facebook campaign gets. Unica provides tools for managing digital marketing campaigns and customer information, such as customers’ e-mail addresses and preferences.

Combining the two allows organizations to both execute an online marketing campaign and quickly evaluate the results to make adjustments, Hayman said.

IBM obtained both of these technologies in company acquisitions last year. It purchased Unica in August for US$480 million and Coremetrics in June for an undisclosed amount.

Both packages were acquired to be part of IBM’s recently launched Smarter Commerce practice, which aims to offer advanced computing and analysis capabilities to retail establishments. The company estimates the retail market could demand up to $20 billion in software by 2015.

“We’re pretty confident this platform will be better than anything else out there,” said Yuchun Lee, vice president and general manager of enterprise marketing management at IBM, who also was a co-founder of Unica.

Lee noted that most Web analytics software, such as Adobe’s Omniture and Google Analytics, can track response rate, but no off-the-shelf software or services combine these results with customer behavior data into a single presentation.

“I think we’re finally at the point where we can clean all this up with this release,” he said.

The suite will be available as a service within the next week, Hayman said.

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