Omniture’s SiteCatalyst HBX

Well two months ago I wrote about how the end of HBX wasn’t quite here yet. And it still isn’t here, quite yet. However it may be a lot closer than I anticipated two months ago with the announcement on Thursday 17th that the merger had officially completed. I’ll take you through the interesting points of the press release and the ‘welcome’ email that we got on the same day.

HBX Analytics will be rebranded as Omniture SiteCatalyst HBX, and will continue to be supported until the key features have been integrated into Omniture SiteCatalyst.

May be a bit too easy to read between the lines on that one. The email told us that they are “going to continue to support the HBX product line” which kind of follows from the excerpt from the press release above. However this doesn’t appear to move away from the “migration program”.

Hmm all interesting, but what does it mean? Well as I mentioned last time there are a couple of options going forward for the customers and it really depends on their user base (of the tool, not the site) and the purpose of the site.

Let me put this implicitly at the start – moving analytics tools is not simple. I’ve done enough implementations in my time to know that even if you can create a template to follow, you’ll spend long periods afterwards tweaking it to make it right. So when we redesigned a website recently, we went through the whole rigmarole of working out what our users wanted and marrying them up with our business goals. In theory, choosing your web analytics tool should be no different. You need to know who is going to be using it and what they want to get out of it. Then you have to marry that up with the goals of the website (or company if there are many websites).

So lets start from the beginning. I suspect that most sites will fall into a couple of groups (but there may be other ones that I am missing out on).

eCommerce, many analysts, few users – this is probably a common situation. When I say many analysts, I’m probably still thinking of between 2 and 10. What happens in this case is that the analysts use HBX to produce reports, analysis and recommendations to the Business. The Business don’t use HBX, because the analysts understand it better and can provide better recommendations or they tried to once in the past, got the wrong end of the stick and caused a storm in a teacup when they blamed a whole department for not working properly. In this case it is entirely up to the analysts what they want to use. It’s personal preference.

Site Catalyst works quite well and a migration would be smoothed by the fact they don’t have to explain to anyone who to use it. Also because they are now the same company as HBX they won’t have to think about paying for two tools at the same time whilst they migrate. Equally they could think about taking up core metrics on their offer of migrating for free. Both these tools give a few more reports that HBX doesn’t, although they may cost more. The other advantage this lot have is that whilst the analysts work their socks off to ensure that it is right, the users of the reports (the Business) may never know what has happened.

eCommerce, few analysts, many users – given a lack analysts skills and the ease of use of HBX as an interface this is also common. Here you have not only the issue of migrating to the new tags (not easy without analysts), but you have to train more users on how to use the system. This means you need to give this more thought – either the users think using it is Business critical or they use it for ease. Before you know it, they’ve got fed up and are going back to the data adwords or affiliates give them and don’t worry about conversions.

Critical in this situation is firstly overlap of tools so that you can migrate the users in your own time. Secondly is that you have someone who understands the Business enough that they can explain to users (who aren’t going to be as web savvy) where to find the things they used to look at and why they should look at new metrics. Here the advantage that Core Metric has is the added consultancy, but the disadvantage is the less ease of use. The people may choose to move to a tool like Web Trends which is fairly intuitive as to where things are – but this will require consultancy to set up properly in the first place. The SiteCatalyst is probably a good option too – because this will reduce the costs of the overlap period.

eCommerce, few analysts, few users – it wouldn’t surprise me if this was fairly common as well. There are a couple of simple options here (apart from giving up and going home). You can either hang around on HBX for as long as possible and hope someone develops an interest so that you can move into one of the two above (that’ll give you a good excuse to leave HBX behind). You can question why you are paying any money at all and move onto Google Analytics or the soon to be released Microsoft Gatineau. You won’t be able to do as much in depth analysis (probably) but then you weren’t doing much anyway.

Media, few analysts, many users – ok, this is a web first world when it comes to media these days. If you don’t fall into this category I’d be amazed. Unless of course you happen to be in the fortuitous position of having many analysts. Here it is a bit complicated. If you’re anything like my company, we have 50 odd websites, with 3 different sections on most of them, all owned by three different people. In the end you have 500+ users when you add in dev, creative, user research, sales, Marketing, etc. Also because you are a media site you probably want to keep costs down to a minumum.

You have two options: Run into SiteCatalyst as fast as you can and hope that you can ride the wave of help from the Omniture ‘migration program’. This will hopefully allow you to give your users the ability to do simple things very quickly (good). Meanwhile going hell for leather with the developers to retag your site in as similar way to how you set it up in HBX. Things to think about here are your API linking data into the front end may have to become manual for a little while, as will your report builder reports.

Or, alternatively, you can hold out on HBX as long as you can until you are the only one left that they are supporting and they tell you that you can’t stay or they find a way of transferring your data without you changing your tags. This way at least you can spend a long quality time looking at SiteCatalyst and working out how to set up your tags in the optimum way for all of your users. Plus it gives you licence to work out how to set up the API from Omniture and set up any excel reports.

Easy decision? Don’t bet on it.

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