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EDS narrows sights on Web measurement tool

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When Electronic Data Systems Corp. sought a Web measurement tool, it quickly found more than 30 companies claiming to meet its analysis needs. But the Plano, Texas-based computer services giant, with greater than $20 billion in annual sales and operations in 55 countries, had leading-edge requirements that quickly narrowed the field.

After two months of evaluation, it landed on high-end Web analysis tools from Naperville, Ill.-based Visual Insights Inc., which released last Monday the latest in its product line, eBizinsights XL 3.0.

"Visual Insights emerged as the only product to meet all of our key considerations," said Michael Minchew, manager-online commerce in EDS online marketing and communications department.

Raising the bar

EDS required that its Web measurement system accept customer information from a wide variety of older databases, dispersed throughout its operation. Also, EDS needed ease of use, so the average, non-technical business manager could structure inquiries against EDS 30,000 daily customer interactions on the Web. Finally, EDS wanted to add up to 100 new employee analysts without incurring additional "per seat" costs predominant in the Web measurement industry.

A key to the selection of Visual Insight was indeed cost. Visual Insight charged $12,500 per computer dedicated to running its software, instead of charging based on the number of employees accessing the application, Minchew said.

EDS is especially interested in learning whether Web site visits generated by broadcast brand campaigns translate into completed sales transactions, he said.

A team of executives from all four of EDS operating units is currently working with Visual Insights to develop measurement techniques that will make EDS more profitable on the Internet, he said. EDS is also using Visual Insights in the offline marketing arena, where it is crunching promotional advertising information.

Visual Insights newest product, eBizinsights XL 3.0, includes a three-dimensional, animated interfacedubbed a "marketing dashboard." It simplifies the process of structuring questions, and allows executives to pick the best graphic representation of the information. Also, it includes built-in applications to measure the efficacy of marketing campaigns, site content and e-commerce areas.

EDS strategy is significant because few companies have demonstrated a return on investment from their enterprise Web site, said Bill Gassman, senior research analyst for Gartner Inc., Stamford, Conn.

Scouting the competition

Visual Insight is not the only Web measurement vendor developing new wrinkles. Earlier this month, competitor NetIQ Corp. repositioned its brand of measurement products with the release of WebTrends Reporting Center 4.0. The product includes applications to qualify visitors, measure campaign efficacy and analyze customer shopping cart activity.

Portland, Ore.-based WebTrends is probably the most closely watched company in its industry because it launched one of the first Web measurement applications and dominates the low end of the industry with use by an estimated 55,000 sites. WebTrends has been trying to gain traction in the high-end market with competitive pricing.

Compared with customer relationship management and business intelligence, Web analytics is a small market, Gartners Gassman said. Its less than $100 million in sales today, but is projected to grow to $500 million by 2004, he said. Now is the time to experiment with these technologies but expenditures over $50,000 arent recommended, Gassman said.

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