Visual Sciences’ Promise


René is trying to get me to adopt his wonderful Mac. Actually he started by begging me to write an article about Visual Sciences as I promised Eric I would do.

Yes, I’ve been silent because I haven’t been doing my homework actually. Just digesting my US eMetrics experience and taking care of my clients as well as the integration of a new team member to my little panEuropean Web Analytics business unit. Welcome Julien, our French team member. So busy, busy, or as Siegert would say with his smiling Flemish accent druk, druk, druk 😉

Visual Sciences - Visual Site Interface

But yes, of course, Visual Sciences.

There hasn’t been a day since our return from Washington where I haven’t thought about processes. This, of course, refers to Eric’s inspirational presentation about processes related to Web Analytics.
 Today for example, we encountered an SDC issue with one of our WebTrends clients. Apparently something had changed in the configuration. It would be an interesting idea to start thinking about access rights to the SDC machine and list possible interfering activities that might hold consequences on the SDC’s main objectives, which is… as we all know: collect log files.

But yes again, of course Visual Sciences.

I wrote an very short, very vulgarized and terribly bad article today about Web Analytics and Business Intelligence. Yes, I must admit, my written French is even worse than my English, I solemnly promise. And also, I had about 23 minutes to write something sensible in 2.950 characters about business intelligence and web analytics.

So, yes Visual Sciences.

Where to start…
Amazing? Disruptive? Challenging? Different!
I know very few companies that will actually get, really get, what this product is about. I know for a fact that not all competing vendors actually really, but I mean really understand what the hell Jim, Eric and their lot are talking about.

Where to start… René suggests the visual and graphical aspect of the product. Yes, nice, indeed, gamy. As many OX2 members are both former game developers, current players and hefty comic readers and even some drawers, we can of course appreciate the dark background and cool 3D stuff.
Thanks guys, it’s fun and inspiring to our generation…
Because, I don’t know about you guys but I recently sat with a CEO (must admit it didn’t go that well, wasn’t prepared but hey, there are difficult waters out there) and he didn’t really strike as the kind of Playstation or XBox players. But hey, that’s us over here in Europe maybe. What do I know?

It’s not that. It’s the atomic bomb stuff. Or as Eric described it during his demo, he was “using an atomic bomb” to analyze behavior on his WebAnalyticsDemystified website. Jumping up and down with excitement, eyes tinkling and proud as a ponitailed peacock (sorry, couldn’t help myself).
And as an analyst, I must say that during that presentation, suddenly the limited shutters I had related to analyzing online data blasted away.
Seriously, any question I would have, any kind of segmentation I could think of was there, reachable, on the fly. And in 3D 😉
And even more seriously, it’s not only about online or web technology driven data. It’s more than “just” that. It’s about the ultimate holistic view of your company, expressed in measurable, down-drillable, comparable financial terms.

It’s about being a data driven company. It’s about taking decisions based on hard facts and embracing the will to do so, truly and honestly for the benefit of your company and your stakeholders. Naturally, your stakeholders will be your share holders, in this connected world we live in. Hopefully, being a visionary company, you would also want to include your employees shared efforts.

Clearly Visual Sciences will attract some of the best analysts in the world. Hopefully the guys from Visual Sciences, with their atomic bomb, will also come with knowledge related to the type of team you’d need to get those little Hiroshimas glowing…

It’s interesting to see also how, in the light of the public presentation that Bob Chatham Jim MacIntyre made at the eMetrics at Washington how this all fits into WebSideStory’s strategy. the presentation was insightful and makes sense. For now and for the future. For those other vendors that were there as well, I hope it steered up quite some discussions on the trip back home. I do know that Greg Drew was paying attention, I caught a glimpse of our Danish friends and I’m sure John Marshall from ClickTracks wasn’t that far either. As for Omniture, well I hope Matt was not at the bar.

So, when WebSideStory Inc. (Nasdaq:WSSI) announces on the 30th of November that Jim MacIntyre replaces Jeff Lunsford as CEO, it would be comforting to know that Wall Street would understand what the hell we are talking about.

In Jim’s terms:”We have the best team in our industry and the best products to deliver to our customers at just the right time – as leading businesses are realizing the importance of real-time customer analytics to their competitive position, customer satisfaction and bottom line.

Visual Sciences is a promise. A promise to the Web Analytics industry, a promise to all those frustrated analysts. As Jim Novo pointed out in a previous eMetrics summit, we business analyst seek refuge in the online world because there was data but our knowledge is certainly not limited to this. It’s limited by the data access!

I’ve been looking at company strategies all my professional life. I’ve been reading books like Strategy Maps by Norton & Kaplan, Stiglitz on The roaring Nineties, Globalisation & Fair Trade, Naked Conversation by Scoble & Israel, The Long Tail, the Innovators Dilemma (I’m not sure this is the Christensen book you refer to Avinash. Could you help me on that one, please?), HBR, the Economist and many other stuff that I find.

These readings have inspired my economic vision upon the world. I’m an economist and even though I’m not quite convinced by Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand, I do believe we should do all that is in our power to make life easier to this wrongly categorized capitalist force. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not for strong government control as I believe there is a third way. And this way is through more symmetric information. One could also see it as less friction in decision making. This can be rendered through the increased use of “new technologies”.
As more and more of our processes will be handled online, they will also become more measurable (I won’t use the term real time, today). These processed will therefore be potential candidates for improvement. Surely at least Japanese companies should at least grasp the interest of such an opportunity!

Data driven decision making where every member, every process, every product, every client, every call, every contact, every purchase, can be matched together in a big wide web of data. Interconnecting bits & bytes, zeros and ones.

And in this mass of data, questions will be asked in a lofty board room. Answers will have to be given rapidly enough. Options will be discussed and further action taken. 
In the best interest of your companies’ stake holders. This is what Visual Sciences is about.

Which CEO is up for the challenge?


11 Responses to “Visual Sciences’ Promise”

  1. Oliver Schiffers Says:

    Hi Aurelie, I can not agree more about the specific reasons why Visual Sciences is disruptive you wrote here. It is about knowledge and knowledge access helping to drive business and afterwards economic decision. Technology is able to prevent this, and most when not all Web Analytics tools and suites prevented this more or less till now… Analysts and methods have been getting very sophisticated in the few years (also in europe 🙂 and if they get access to a tool like VS now a lot of Web Analytics vision we had in the past 6 years can get closer to become real…

  2. Jacques Warren Says:

    Hi Aurélie,

    Wow! VS again. You’re certainly adding to the legend. I wish they would do a demo for me, but all I’m hearing are strories getting close to cult ones!! BTW, I heard that VS is very high end in terms of pricing (i.e. darn expensive). Do you have any idea? As disruptive as they can be, not all businesses (and I mean large ones here) have reached the point where it make sense to invest huge amounts on WA (or they just still lightyears from recognizing they should). I have myself been fighting for over 4 years with budgets, but WA is still very much under funded, and will be for some time still. So, the best app can be the best, but it also comes to how concretely we can expect to implement it if it’s always off the charts price wise.

  3. Eric T. Peterson Says:


    I loved your characterization of my enthusiasm (“Jumping up and down with excitement, eyes tinkling and proud as a ponitailed peacock”) and was happy to see your review of our technology and the demonstration I was able to provide to you and Rene. I also love that you and Rene clearly “get” what I’m talking about when I evangelize the process through which web analytics makes companies successful. While some criticize my call for process in web analytics, I think in the long-run companies will see the value of this vision and make investments accordingly.

    I did want to correct one common misconception that some folks have about Visual Sciences, one that Jacques Warren brought up — the notion that Visual Site is “darn expensive.” While we offer a managed services option that allows companies to deploy our technology without deploying software themselves–an offering that is functionally similar to any other tag-based implementation–we sell licensed software and thusly offer a variety of pricing options. Companies familiar with Enterprise software purchasing will recognize our term and perpetual licensing models, our managed or in-house deployment options, and make the choice that is most appropriate for their needs at the time.

    Our belief is that when prospects make apples-to-apples comparisons and examine these costs on a two- to three-year time horizon, that our prices are actually very reasonable. The challenge is to ensure that our competitors include pricing for functionality that we provide as standard in every Visual Site deployment–including unlimited data warehouse access, unlimited visitor segmentation capabilities, the unlimited ability to generate custom reports, native controlled experimentation functionality, etc.

    Regardless, I was delighted to provide you and Rene (and many others at Emetrics) a demonstration of our technology. Yeah, I’m pretty proud of what our customers are able to do with Visual Site–I’d be crazy not to be. And I will be out there doing my best to evangelize realistic strategies for companies to create value from their investment in web analytics, regardless of which vendor they work with.

    I promise.


    Eric T. Peterson

  4. Jacques Warren Says:

    Hi Eric,

    Well I’m happy to see that your pricing structure can accomodate smaller budgets. Again, I was basically quoting hearsay (which maybe I should never do ;-)).

  5. Lars Says:

    Yeah, I somehow made it back to this post again. I came back here through a different post (in French). I’m happy to see that Visual Sciences has left stealth mode. Been following Eric’s posts as well.

  6. liveswordfish Says:

    Euh??? what video game have you been playing lately???

    If they’re aiming for the so cool GOW spirit, why not build up the marketing buzz and time their launch with the PS3? Or might they loose their audience…

    Hey, this could maybe compensate for the A4 color printed paper stuck on the wall at the 1er eMarketing Forum 😉

    Keep it real.

  7. Aurélie Pols Says:

    You noticed that too, did you?
    Yes, thought it strange as well but on the other hand, I can actually understand why.

    Don’t forget that they acquired Visual Sciences last year and since then, they’ve been integrating quite fast.
    This integration, as Jim McIntyre showed during the eMetrics in Washington – you were there as well, were you? – shows a Web Analytics roadmap for companies, stretching for longer periods of time.

    As you might have understood from my posts – and this was also repeated by George Anidjar during his Unica presentation – I’m starting to consider that as products are actually getting quite similar, changing products between for example major leaders like Omniture, WebSideStory or Coremetrics is not really worth the hassle. The learning curve remains steep.

    What I like about VS is that they are not only aware of this but are also looking into the future. They have a vision of how Analysis could actually enter the boardroom in order to truthfully and rapidly respond to questions that might be asked.
    This long term vision unfolds itself within the migration path of worldwide customers between the current HBX and how VS sees the future.

    The thing is, and I’m really sorry to disappoint you, that the technological barriers are not really the problem but the mentality barriers are very much a reality today. I witness it daily!
    Therefore, Europe and certainly France are utterly not ready at all for Visual Sciences.
    Reason enough for me to be present at the 1er eMarketing Forum as WSS & HBX and only mention VS. But indeed, they could have done some design effort 😉

    Overall, I thought the presentations were interesting, except for the 3rd one. I really, really have a problem with their solution and philosophy!
    Weborama was an interesting way to see WA from a more advertiser perspective, unica showed the integrated view and WebSideStory shows a reassuring long term solution.
    We’ll be posting soon about what we saw, together with Julien, in Paris yesterday. I just haven’t had the time due to the flue, sorry.

    Let me know of your thoughts, kind regards & good evening from Brussels,

  8. liveswordfish Says:

    France is unique. And tough for US vendors. With few exceptions.

    Exceptions? Maybe Microsoft and its Xbox360 😉

  9. Web Analytics Demystified » Blog Archive » On promises and porn stars … Says:

    […] can begin to understand my decision (at least philosophically) by reading posts written by Aurelie Pols of OX2 in Belgium and Gary Angel of SEMphonic in San Francisco. Aurelie’s post about Visual Site is pretty long […]

  10. Emetrics San Francisco: WebSideStory passed away, long live Visual Sciences! « Blog Says:

    […] year, at Emetrics Washington Bob did already a very interesting presentation explaining the positioning of WSS after VS acquisition: going towards ‘Customer […]

  11. wanalytics » Blog Archive » Web Analytics Enterprise Lösung in München gesichtet Says:

    […] Visual Sciences ist schon vor einiger Zeit viel Richtiges, Begeistertes und Disruptives geschrieben worden. Erst in den letzten Wochen ist in der Branche jedoch etwas eindringlicher zu […]

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