Digital technologies open the door to new kinds of data collection for the analysis of business processes. As you travel the Web, everywhere you go and everything you do leaves a trail of bits — a virtual calling card that can illuminate your online activities. For example, your visit to this site is being logged by a server. This page is configured to return some of the information about you below:
Remote host: 18.104.22.168
Browser/platform: Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; heritrix/1.8.0 +http://www.accelobot.com)
HTTP referer: https://digitalenterprise.org/
The remote host is the IP address or domain name that identifies the location of the computer network you are using. Information about your browser and operating system are also logged. The “referer” is the web page with the hyperlink you clicked on to arrive here. This information and more is recorded in the server logs (here is an example). Every request to a server is recorded and assigned a status code, which describes how the server responded.
The data logged by servers can be analyzed to help optimize network infrastructure, improve web site architecture, measure the effectiveness of site design and advertising campaigns, and much, much more. The analysis of log data can be rudimentary, such as simple summaries of basic activity. However, the tools are becoming increasingly sophisticated and the amount of information gathered about each individual web site visitor can be quite extensive. Much work is being done to develop analytics that yield meaningful statistics for decision makers (see below). As impressive as these tools are, the analysis of web activity has only just begun to scratch the surface of what may be possible in the future.
The collection of web data, and especially the use of of “cookies“, raises important concerns about individual privacy, a subject we will discuss at length later in the course.
Commercial Tools for Web Analytics
|ClickTracks||ClickTracks provides an innovative line of products and hosted services in the field of web site traffic analysis. ClickTracks focuses of presenting meaningful information about user behavior visually in context.|
|Coremetrics||Coremetrics 2005 is a Web analytics platform that captures and stores all customer and visitor clickstream activity to build LIVE (Lifetime Individual Visitor Experience) Profiles that serve as the foundation for all successful e-business initiatives.|
|Google Analytics||Google Analytics offers free web analytics services with integrated analysis of Adwords and other keyword-based search advertising. Based on Urchin, which Google purchased in 2005.|
|IBM SurfAid||IBM SurfAid Analytics provides web analysis tools that track how visitors are interacting with site content as well as consulting on best practice measurement and data interpretation.|
|NedStat||Nedstat is a provider of software solutions and services for monitoring websites and reporting on website-visits.|
|NetIQ||WebTrends offers both an On Demand service and software solutions to measure campaign performance, search engine marketing, web site conversion and customer retention.|
|Omniture||SiteCatalyst is a hosted application that offers a comprehensive view of activity on a company’s website that includes historical (data warehouse) and real-time analysis and reporting.|
|SAS||SAS Web Analytics applies SAS Customer Intelligence software to online channels so that every customer interaction is powered by a complete view of the customer.|
|Visual Sciences||Real-Time Analysis Platform (RTAP) and suite of applications to collect, process, analyze and visualize their data for decision making, including Internet sites and services.|
|WebSideStory||WebSideStory is a provider of on-demand web analytics services. WebSideStory’s services collect data from web browsers, process that data and deliver reports of online behavior to its customers on demand.|