Thursday, February 22, 2007

Assessing an Array of Analytics Application Acquisitions

To an industry analyst, one event is interesting, two are a coincidence, and three makes a trend. Last week has (at least) three acquisitions of analytics vendors: TouchClarity by Omniture, Decisioneering by Hyperion, and Pilot Software by SAP. So what trend are we witnessing?

Actually, the answer is quite obvious: companies are trying to add more intelligence to their products. This particular trend has been under way for a long time. What’s important about it from a customer experience management viewpoint is it shows the vendors believe their customers are looking for more advanced analytic solutions.

This wasn’t always the case. Although Pilot is a fairly generic “operational performance management” system (nothing wrong with that), both Decisioneering and TouchClarity involve some pretty sophisticated forecasting. Until recently, most managers who were not themselves statisticians have been leery of such tools. It’s possible they still are, but presumably Hyperion and Omniture are responding to some sort of demonstrated demand. I’ll be optimistic and assume this means that managers are now more willing to employ advanced analytic software even if they may not quite understand what is going on under the hood.

This is unusual. Most managers are control-centered and risk-averse. Presumably they have been convinced to overcome these tendencies based on hard evidence that systems like this bring real business benefits.

This is good for customer experience management because CEM value calculations also rely on complicated forecasts. Managers’ willingness to employ systems that do such forecasts suggests they will be more receptive to accepting CEM forecasts as valid. Managers’ interest in these systems also suggests a more analytical orientation in general. This is another hopeful sign that they will accept CEM measurements such as Lifetime Value as tools for guiding business decisions.

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