Trends in web analytics (and performance monitoring)

Philip Howard

Written By:
Published: 8th July, 2008
Content Copyright © 2008 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

Traditionally, web analytics have been used to monitor page hits, dropped shopping carts and the paths taken by site visitors. This is fine, as far as it goes, and it is useful in a generalised way but doesn't actually tell you much about either the individual customer experience or the performance of your web site. However, two companies that I have been speaking with recently are addressing these issues.

The first of these companies is SAS with its Customer Experience Analytics. Where this differs from traditional approaches to web analytics is that what Customer Experience Analytics does is to collect and analyse the web experience for each individual customer building up a profile, over multiple visits, of what exactly that customer is doing on the site and thereby getting some idea of her user experience. You can also link the software to SAS' Marketing Automation software so that you can use these web analytics as part of multi-channel analysis. And, of course, you can combine the collected analytics with other analytic information you may have about the customer.

For best results it will be preferable to have the site visitor register and then log on to your site but if you do this then you should include an appropriate consent box so that site visitors can opt out of having the details collected in this way, since there may be data protection implications related to the collecting of this data.

The second company is Application Performance Ltd which has a product called WebTuna. Again, this will monitor down to the individual customer level based on inserting code into web pages (the same way that SAS works) but here the emphasis is not on collecting customer analytics but on improving the performance of web pages (specifically web transaction monitoring) by being able to analyse performance at a very low level. Specifically, WebTuna monitors the response time of all web pages for all users all of the time and can provide alerting and detailed SLA reporting. It is available as a fully hosted solution with a monthly subscription option so that you can try the software out to see if it suits you.

Further, WebTuna works alongside the same company's DBTuna, which does a similar thing at the database level, measuring wait states in a similar fashion to Confio's Igniter Suite. Both products support performance oriented wait state monitoring for Oracle and SQL Server, but Confio otherwise supports DB2 and Sybase while DBTuna supports MySQL. And what Confio doesn't have is this extension into web performance monitoring, though as a more mature product it will have advantages in other areas. In the UK at least you don't have to make a choice right now because Application Performance is a distributor for Confio.

So there are a couple of interesting things here: on the one hand a move towards deeper and more personalised understanding of what goes on on web sites, and on the other the integration of performance monitoring across back-office systems and onto the Internet. Apart from the proviso about data protection these all seem like significant steps forward.

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