Interview With Barry Parshall, VP Product Strategy at Webtrends (at the time – 2009)

On from Web Analytics

Another post coming from The Big Integration which I will close soon, since there just a couple of post I want to republish here for posterity (!). This one was done with Barry Parshall, then VP Products Strategy at Webtrends, who has since left the company.

Today, we got a top guest for our tbi interview : Barry Parshall, VP of Product Strategy at WebTrends. Barry has been at the heart of product evolution for several years. Prior joining WebTrends in 2001, he ran Crystal products for 4 years. Barry talks to us today about WebTrends Connect within the context of web analytics and BI integration.

I’m very happy Barry could take the time to answer the following questions. Each one of them would have stimulated many others, but this is a blog after all!

JW – Tell us more about WebTrends Connect. It doesn’t seem to be an actual product, nor a module of WebTrends Analytics.


BP – Connect is a collection of components (APIs, libraries, data models, drivers, etc.) that are an intrinsic aspect of all WebTrends Products. Connect is geared to fully expose the underlying data that drive our customer’s businesses and our analytics products. More importantly, Connect is the manifestation of our corporate philosophy predicated in customers being active participants in the development of their and our solutions to improving their businesses. A good illustration of this is our upcoming customer conference in which we provide a forum for customers to help design the agenda and content.


JW – What do you see as more common? Companies exporting aggregate data from WT and dumping it to their warehouse after some ETL, or using their BI application to connect directly into WT?


BP – Intuitively I’d say it’s a 50/50 split, as we haven’t performed a formal analysis. We know many of our customers use our ODBC driver to build their own Excel scorecards. More and more, though, customers are directly loading their Teradata and other warehouses with our WebTrends Marketing Warehouse data to garner a more complete view of the customer’s behaviors and transactions.


JW – What are the respective roles of WebTrends Analytics and Marketing Warehouse/Visitor Intelligence in the Connect/BI environment?


BP – Both products are supported with the same drivers, APIs, etc. – the difference is in the data they provide. WebTrends Analytics is an aggregate reporting solution that it provides operational reporting needs to help direct all aspects of your online marketing strategy. As such it contains much of the data to populate dashboards, scorecards and daily reports in external spreadsheets, portals or reporting systems.


The Marketing Warehouse provides a detailed accounting of every action taken by every visitor on the site. Just like a CRM system maintains a record of every phone call, every email, indeed every interaction with a customer, Marketing Warehouse maintains a physical data record of everything the visitor has done on your site. The data itself is stored in a SQL Server 2008 database with a fully documented and exposed database schema (as well as a library of abstraction objects). The role of the Marketing Warehouse is to provide the non-aggregated detail visitor-level behavioral data needed to drive the specific audience segmentation, data integration and rich analysis requirements of a given organization.


Visitor Intelligence is a packaged business intelligence solution extending the Marketing Warehouse. It utilizes a true OLAP data store and OLAP slicer/dicer component, along with other BI components and or course pre-built cubes and reports. It’s built on top of the exact same data models and APIs exposed in Connect and is a great tool for companies that don’t have an existing BI system they wish to utilize instead.


JW – How do you see the role of a high-end product such as WebTrends within the BI suite in enterprises? In other words, do you see WebTrends as becoming the application of record for Web – BI analyses? Doesn’t Analytics run the risk of becoming a kind of Web data pre-process application ?


BP – We believe that both approaches will be used for the foreseeable future. Many organizations will continue to operate their online marketing optimization within the silo of web analytics information – it’s a proven model and it works for basic marketing and operational needs. But for an increasing number of organizations, online data is seen as one piece of a broader business intelligence solution. These are organizations with firmly established practices, processes and investments in enterprise BI systems. For this organization, the reporting solution provided by the web analytics vendor has increasingly marginal value. It’s the data that’s gold, along with what can be done with it. There’s a reason why there isn’t a universal business intelligence solution … every organization has different BI needs. Packaged solutions like we see in the web analytics market can provide much of an organization’s needs out of the box, but as organizations become more sophisticated, requirements grow beyond what a typical vendor can provide in a “packaged” offering. This is when the data (un-aggregated) and the ability to leverage entrenched BI systems becomes vital.


So will web analytics turn into a pre-process application? To some extent, yes, in that some organizations will want nothing else from the web analytics provider (“just give me the data”). But I think a better way of thinking of this is that web analytics will adapt to greater business value which we believe is richer forms of analysis. Basic reporting tools, which are well down the path of being commoditized, will give way to more advanced analytical applications, such as those that mine relevance with high-value audience segments, statistical analysis of campaign attributes across all prior touch points, and so on.


JW – Can you comment on what WebTrends Connect is bringing to the table compare to Omniture and Coremetrics’ data integration efforts?


BP – What makes WebTrends unique with Connect is our commitment to industry-standard technologies, open and published data models and both deployment options (hosted and software). As a rule, data warehouse and business intelligence savvy organizations are frustrated by proprietary data stores, flat data dumps or any hindered access to the original detail data via rich data objects. All vendors provide APIs, but if the data has already been aggregated, it thwarts many of the integration and analysis needs.


JW – Thanks a lot, Barry.

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