BACKGROUND: StudioNorth is a communications firm specializing in cross-media business communications solutions for companies ranging from midrange to the Fortune 100 as well as prominent software developers and business/technology consulting firms. Among its offerings, StudioNorth develops and maintains business-to-business, Web-enabled applications which are housed on either public, Internet, intranet or extranet sites.

PLATFORMS: StudioNorth runs Visual Insights' eBizinsights on our production and staging Web servers, each running Windows NT 4.0, dual Pentium 450 MHz CPUs, 512MB RAM with dual 8.7GB hard drives.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Seeking new ways to make their Web sites more successful, our clients have asked us to do Web tracking and monitoring for which we have used a variety of Web log tracking and reporting products. More sophisticated clients now want us to measure and analyze traffic and behavior at their sites to ensure they are getting a return on their e-business investments. They want information about traffic patterns, how visitors use the site, what they do, how long they spend, how much they spend and whether they respond to enticements such as banner ads and sales promotions. eBizinsights will take us to a higher level ­ from raw data and static reporting to intelligent data, in- depth analysis and dynamic, visual reporting.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: eBizinsights is an e-business performance analysis solution designed to enable companies to sell more products, increase customer loyalty and decrease operating expenses in their online businesses. eBizinsights focuses on analyzing promotional effectiveness, visitor demographics, customer acquisition and site performance to enable decision-makers to design more effective strategies across the entire customer life cycle. Visual discovery replaces static charts and graphs with interactive visual displays that help users identify trends, make comparisons and take immediate action; and flexible Web-based reporting provides ubiquitous access.

STRENGTHS: eBizinsights is the only product we've seen that allows us to correlate multiple business inputs simultaneously to achieve precise results. For example, static reports might show that a certain promotion referred a lot of visitors to one of our sites. With eBizinsights, we can quickly drill down to see if those visitors turned into buyers or if they abandoned the site and why. In this way, we can determine whether the promotion was a universal success or really hit the target on a specific visitor demographic. The application has a wealth of visual display tools and runs on our standard Microsoft-based platform.

WEAKNESSES: Because eBizinsights gathers so much information from our Web logs, it is not as fast as some other Web-tracking solutions in parsing gigabytes and terabytes of raw data. For our clients, however, understanding what is happening on their Web sites is more important than speed. B2B applications are being used to generate business or improve operational efficiencies, so interpretation of Web behavior has to be on target.

SELECTION CRITERIA: For the 40-plus Web sites we monitor or maintain, running standard boilerplate reports just doesn't cut it anymore. We need specific information about who is doing what on these sites. Our clients are demanding more directed information on their application's effectiveness, and they are building specific Web architectures to meet customer relationship management needs. Today, we have to be able to measure more than just monthly averages or totals in order to help clients become more nimble and responsive. For example, how did a certain customer segment respond to an online promotion at a particular date and time? The ability of eBizInsights to probe into this type of question in real time is what makes it a next-generation solution.

DELIVERABLES: With the tools we've been using, delving into a particular question or mining for a specific piece of information usually meant a lengthy process of running and rerunning increasingly more focused reports. With eBizinsights' visual discovery, the analysis and reporting that used to us take days, or even a week, can now be accomplished in hours or minutes.

VENDOR SUPPORT: As the world's largest developer of data visualization-based e-business performance analysis solutions, Visual Insights has proven to be a responsive and reliable partner.

DOCUMENTATION: Visual Insights' documentation is clearly organized in a step-by-step manner. Tutorials are available electronically in .pdf format and contain screen captures and animations to walk users through the application.

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