IBM rolls out cloud-based Web analytics tool

New tool, product of Unica and Coremetrics acquisitions, links analytics from platforms including Web and social media with marketing efforts

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% 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.

Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at  @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com.

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