Back To The Future Of Online Testing

I’m pleased to announce that we’ve published "The Forrester Wave™: Online Testing Platforms, Q1 2013." The Wave methodology is Forrester’s time-tested, exhaustive, and transparent approach to vendor evaluations. We base this research on data gathered through extensive vendor briefings, product demonstrations, customer reference calls, and online user surveys. We evaluated seven leading vendors against 53 criteria and gathered feedback from 132 user companies.

This Wave focused on established vendors that offer full featured online testing solutions targeted at enterprise clients. Based on this criteria, we evaluated the following companies: Adobe, Autonomy, Maxymiser, Monetate, Optimizely, SiteSpect, and Webtrends. Forrester clients can read the full report and access the underlying scorecard details for each vendor. And don’t forget that the Forrester Wave scorecard also includes an interactive tool allowing users to customize the Wave model with personalized criteria weightings. 

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The Shifting Sands Of Tag Management

I published Understanding Tag Management Tools And Technology about six weeks ago. The research has been a valuable resource for documentating the vendor landscape and - most importantly - identifying how buyers deploy and benefit from tag management solutions. But as we've regularly noted, tag management is an early-stage market undergoing rapid expansion and evolution. Strictly speaking, "Understanding Tag Management Tools and Technology" was fully accurate for about a week. Since we published the research in mid-August, the TMS vendor landscape has continued to exhibit highly dynamic (and exciting!) behavior:

  • August: BrightTag acquires SiteTagger. US-based BrightTag sets its sights on establishing a strong foothold in the EU by acquiring UK-based SiteTagger. You can read about it here.
  • September: Mediaplex launches a TMS offering. Digital media powerhouse Mediaplex jumps into the TMS market with its own offering - named Master TMS - to further enhance their stack of advertising technology and services. You can check it out here.
  • October: Google launches a TMS offering. This is the big one. Web and tech giant Google launches its own TMS offering - named Google Tag Manager - to make digital marketing easier to manage and to bridge their broad portfolio of analytics and media products. You can read the official announcement here, and check out Justin Cutroni's blog for a more technical overview.
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Understanding Tag Management Tools And Technology

Last week Forrester published Understanding Tag Management Tools And Technology. The new research couldn't have arrived at a better time; by any standard, 2012 has been a banner year for tag management as the market momentum I wrote about at the end of last year continues unabated. JavaScript tagging is the instrumentation technology of choice for a wide variety of digital marketing and analytics solutions, but managing tags over the long term is an expensive, time-consuming, and error-prone endeavor. Ultimately, tag management systems (TMS) help provide control, flexibility, and efficiency to ensure the efficacy of digital intelligence. Ever since the enthusiastic reception of Forrester's inaugural report on tag management, it's been abundantly clear that deeper and ongoing research on this topic is essential. I've been bullish on tag management for the past couple of years because it's one of the rare technology solutions that truly addresses a pervasive challenge for practitioners. But I'm hardly alone; tag management is top of mind for several other important constituencies:

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The Impact Of Corporate Culture On Digital Intelligence

I just finished reading Corporate Culture: The Ultimate Strategic Asset by Eric Flamholtz and Yvonne Randle. The book is based on the premise that company culture is a critically important yet often uncredited driver of success and failure, even correlating to financial performance. And, like other aspects of modern corporations, culture requires active management. Companies with great cultures don't get there by accident. The book is a worthwhile read for those with an interest in general management and the implications of culture for mid-sized to large companies.*

The book defines corporate culture as the "values, beliefs, and norms that influence the thoughts and actions (behavior) of people in organizations." The connection between cultural attributes and actions made me think about applying the concepts of culture directly to digital intelligence. Why is culture important in the context of digital intelligence? Because simply hiring people or implementing technology isn't enough to achieve digital intelligence proficiency. I see proof of this on a daily basis as I work with clients who struggle with digital intelligence despite substantial investments in the best technologies and most talented teams. These organizations have many of the individual pieces but cannot put the puzzle together. Culture is the connective tissue that binds technology, people, and action together.

To take the idea a bit further, let's look at the five key components of corporate culture according to the book and their digital intelligence implications:

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IBM And Tealeaf: Assembling The Digital Intelligence Puzzle

On Wednesday, May 2, IBM announced its agreement to acquire analytics industry veteran Tealeaf. You can read the official press release here. The financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed, and the deal will conclude in Q3 2012, following a customary closing period. IBM anticipates that all Tealeaf staff will continue with the company. Tealeaf, a private company, was founded in 1999 as a spin-off of tech giant SAP. Tealeaf is best known for its interaction analysis — or session replay — software.

Truth be told, I'm surprised it took this long for a major analytics vendor to acquire an interaction analysis tool. After all, web analytics is great at telling us what happened, but interaction analysis provides an additional layer of contextual insight to evaluate how events unfold. This highly visual, qualitative element of analysis connects the dots between traditional web analytics and VOC programs and has many applications across site analytics, support, marketing, and design. Although interaction analysis has always been a niche market, it's logical to assume that the two capabilities would be paired up in a single platform eventually.
 
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Announcing Forrester's Tag Management User Survey!

Is your firm using a tag management system? If so, we want to hear from you!

Today we're launching Forrester's inaugural Tag Management User Survey. This survey accompanies my upcoming research on the tag management vendor landscape. The survey will provide valuable contextual insights on industry trends and usage patterns to enhance our understanding of tag management technology, best practices, and opportunities. Tag management has gained tremendous momentum over the past year, and we're really excited to do a deep dive on the topic this spring. 

Click here to take the tag management survey now. Our goal is to complete the survey by Friday, May 25th. As a token of our appreciation, we will send you a complimentary copy of the completed research, scheduled for publication in early summer.

And please feel free to share this blog post — or a link to the survey, http://forr.com/KA1SdK  with friends and colleagues who are involved in tag management.

Thanks in advance for your support; we truly appreciate your participation and look forward to sharing the results with you soon!

Digital Intelligence: Innovation Is The Name Of The Game

Forrester has just published the second installment in our research series on digital intelligence, titled The Road To Digital Intelligence. This piece is the follow-up to Welcome To The Era Of Digital Intelligence, which introduced Forrester's vision for the next stage in the evolution of digital analytics.

I've been very busy recently speaking about and socializing the concept of digital intelligence. The response from Forrester clients and presentation attendees has been extremely enthusiastic. And while there is general agreement on the concept of digital intelligence, savvy practitioners recognize that it's not a quick fix. Digital intelligence involves tracking complex customer interactions across touchpoints, managing massive volumes of data, and delivering actionable analysis. Ultimately, digital intelligence is an analytics strategy rather than a singular project or technology implementation.

As organizations consider shifting to the digital intelligence paradigm, two very perceptive questions arise time and time again. "The Road To Digital Intelligence" aims to address these questions and provide a launching off point for the digital intelligence journey.

Question 1: How should I think about implementing digital intelligence in my organization? 

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Welcome To The Era Of Digital Intelligence

I’m excited to announce the recent publication of Welcome To The Era Of Digital Intelligence. This idea has been brewing for a long time, and it shouldn’t surprise anybody who follows interactive marketing or web analytics. The macro marketing environment has changed – and continues to rapidly evolve – to accommodate new touchpoints, sophisticated consumers, and highly coordinated multichannel customer experiences. And as the remit of marketing expands, so too must that of marketing analytics.

It’s clear that traditional analytics approaches were not designed or intended to handle the breadth of channels, devices, volume, and speed that fuel today’s digital interactions. The endemic symptoms of these gaps are plain for anyone to see: the proliferation of analysis tools, the explosion of data warehousing projects, and the struggle to translate analytics into actionable insights. It is abundantly clear that we need to take a step back and re-imagine an analytics framework that adequately supports modern digital marketing.

Forrester calls this updated approach to marketing analytics “digital intelligence,” defined as:

The capture, management, and analysis of data to provide a holistic view of the digital customer experience that drives the measurement, optimization, and execution of marketing tactics and business strategies.

Digital intelligence comprises six “layers”:

  1. Digital data inputs – incorporating data from all digital marketing touchpoints
  2. Business data inputs – putting digital marketing data into context with data from the business
  3. Data processing – collecting, integrating, and managing data with a high degree of speed and granularity
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The Year In Web Intelligence: 2011

I've never made New Year's resolutions. Well, that's not exactly true. Last week, I promised my dentist I would floss my teeth more in 2012, but that's about the extent of it. But this shouldn't be interpreted as a lack of optimism; I'm absolutely certain that 2012 will be another great year. I fully expect that this will be the year we bring gamification to big mobile data in the cloud or some other delightful confluence of buzzwords.*

Although I haven't traditionally written an annual retrospective, 2011 was a particularly interesting year for the analytics community. So I couldn't resist taking the opportunity to recap the most significant events and trends that I saw over the course of the year. I've selected a few choice items that were both meaningful in 2011 and are likely to have an ongoing impact in 2012:

  1. Google Analytics Premium launches. In September, Google entered the paid web analytics market with Google Analytics Premium. The new offering takes Google Analytics' (GA) capabilities quite a bit further than the free version and introduced a new option for enterprise web analytics buyers with upgraded processing power, support, and product features. As we move into 2012, it will be really interesting to see how Google continues to develop GA Premium to close the gap with competitors and to what degree they fine-tune the commercial and support models.
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Participate In The 2011 Online Testing User Survey

Does your firm have an online testing program? If so, we want to hear from you!

Today we are launching the 2011 edition of Forrester's Online Testing User Survey. Our goal with this survey is to collect data that will help further our understanding of online testing trends and identify best practices. Last year we ran the survey alongside the Online Testing Wave report and published the findings in The State of Online Testing 2010.  This year we're fielding an expanded survey to address a wide array of factors involved in managing an online testing program, from benefits, goals, and challenges to budgeting, staffing, experiments, and suppliers. This is valuable information that will help firms benchmark themselves against the rest of the market and discover opportunities to enhance their online testing efforts. 

Click here to take the 2011 Online Testing User Survey now. As a "thank you" for your time and effort, we will send you a complimentary copy of the completed research, scheduled for publication in Q1 2012.

And please feel free to share this link - http://forr.com/ub7Mwx - with friends and colleagues who are involved in online testing.

Thanks in advance for your support, we are looking forward to sharing the results with you shortly!