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Analytics - who's really buying whom?
Thursday, 13th October 2011
Tim Buckley Owen
Following Twitter’s recent launch of an analytics service (made possible by its purchase of BackType – LiveWire coverage here), Google has now also upped its game with its announcement of Google Analytics Premium. But as business activity in the analytics field becomes ever more febrile, one veteran information commentator thinks the industry is missing a trick.
Democratisation was the guiding principle behind the creation of the original Google Analytics, the company explains – giving all website owners, big and small, the ability to learn from their visitors. But back in 2007 CMS Watch concluded that the service wasn’t “enterprise ready” – so the new Premium product adds extra processing power, advanced analysis, dedicated support and guaranteed service level agreements to the basic offering.
Business analytics is also “the latest IT takeover battleground”, according to marketing and PR specialist Eira Hayward writing in the Register newsletter. Hewlett Packard’s recent swallowing up of Autonomy is one example (LiveWire coverage here) and she also perceptively points out that IBM has made 24 analytics-related purchases in the past five years (here’s LiveWire coverage of a couple of recent ones – i2 and Algorithmics).
A couple of small players also feature in Ms Hayward’s article, and the likelihood is that the number of niche analytics specialists just waiting to be discovered is legion. One such (not mentioned in her article) may be the Boulder, Colorado, based firm Lijit, which provides audience analytics and reader engagement tools to online publishers.
It’s just been bought by Federated Media Publishing, which helps smaller independent publishers to connect with advertisers. Rather more interesting than the deal itself, though, is the philosophy of Lijit’s chief executive Todd Vernon. Confessing to mixed emotions when first approached by Federated Media – Lijit wasn’t for sale and didn’t need to be – Vernon was eventually seduced, on the principle of “go big or stay home”.
The principle is a good introduction to recent musings by information industry sage David Worlock. As information services move from pure publishing to data services (he instances data mining and workflow) he postulates a sequence of events where the publisher first seeks to reduce risk by buying the software supplier they originally contracted, then discovers that the real innovation is taking place outside the supplier’s range; so they opt for strategic partnership instead, and finally find the increasingly valuable partner looking to buy them.
If the information services industry does succeed it will one day attract the attention of the major enterprise software players, Worlock suggests. There should be rich pickings for both parties – but through being client-focused, not “one size fits all”.
Consultancy and customisation are the best defence for niche providers, he declares – yet most of the participants seem to dislike both.
By Tim Buckley Owen
Tim is an information skills trainer and writer on the information industry with over 40 years' experience in the profession. His career has encompassed information management, writing, editing, training, government policy advice and corporate media & marketing.
Besides writing for FreePint, Tim runs courses for training providers and private clients on enquiry handling, abstracting & summarising, information packaging & presentation and information management. The sixth edition of his classic handbook Successful Enquiry Answering Every Time is published by Facet Publishing. You can find details of Tim's training services at www.buckleyowen.com.
Tim can also be reached at email@example.com
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