What's Google doing that Omniture could benefit from? As Jessica Vascellaro writes in the Wall Street Journal, November 5, 2007, "[Google] hopes to entice others to develop features to exploit the mobile web.... If Google succeeds at rallying developers ... it could open the way for consumers to start doing more easily on their web phones what they can already do on the Web." Why is Google doing this? It's not because they are a philanthropic organization. It's because they want to own the market and they realize that they cannot provide all the features that consumers want as fast as they want them. They can, however, own the platform.
Omniture is in a similar position. With Web 2.0, technology is changing too fast for any one company to provide all the functionality that customers of web analytics software will need. The scope and complexities of rich media are such that Omniture will always be in a catch-up mode if it tries to do everything itself. Take Flash for example, Omniture is finally getting it's act together, but it's taken awhile.
During this catch-up period, what did customers do? Some suffered in silence. However, others wrote their own code. Since Omniture did not provide a robust API, these customers wrote code and placed it below the line line in the Omniture js file that says "Do not modify below this line". It usually worked until a new version of the js file came out. Then the customer had the choice of staying with their modified js file or figuring out how to modify the new js file so that they could continue using the capabilities they had developed. Let me tell you it wasn't always a very prettry picture. Another popular capability to add "below the line" is enhanced link tracking. The list goes on.
There are also features that customers would like, but even going "below the line" won't help. In particular, enhancements to the Excel interface. The existing Omniture Excel interface has a very nice GUI and is fine for new users or users with limited Excel expertise. However, there is a large group of web analysts who are not only experienced Omniture users but also very proficient at Excel. These users would love a robust Excel API. With a robust Excel API, Omniture could take credit for the power of Excel in reporting and analyzing the web data it collects and make lots of analyst very happy.
With Omniture's purchase of Visual Sciences, does it have any incentive to become a platform for web analytics and provide robust APIs so that others can develop Omniture features? In the short run probably not. However, who knows how short the short run will be. As Web 2.0 continues to take over, a smart competitor may take the software platform route and entice developers to develop enhanced features for their platform and eventually take over the market. Look at Apple. It had a better user interface, but didn't open it up and didn't capture the market. If they had, Windows may have been an also ran operating system.
In the meantime, what's a web analyst to do. You don't want to go below the line, but yet you need features that Omniture does not easily provide. Well, we can help. Our Omniture implementation guide (http://www.semphonic.com/analytics/impguides.asp) provides all sorts of tips on how to get the most out of Omniture without going below the line. We also provide an implementation review that provides solutions that don't require going below the line. In the longer run, let's hope that Omniture will learn from Google and start thinking of itself as a web analytics platform and not as a provider of all things to all people -- an impossible task.
Any features you'd like to see in Omniture that a 3rd party developer could add if there was a robust API. Do you have any horror stories related to modifications to the js file?