Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Coghead: democratized web development

Back in October I read a post about CogHead from Guy Kawasaki, the author of the best seller book "The Art of the Start".

CogHead simply looks amazing. It brings democratization of one of the most common web development task: create forms and workflows to support them. I haven't had the chance to play with it since the beta is still limited, but from what we can glean on the site, the service takes all its sense from several aspects:
  • zero install, everything is web based and makes good use of Web 2.0 concepts
  • intuitive visual design of web forms, simply drag and drop rich interface elements
  • collaboration throughout the conception, the development and the operation of the application
  • easy data collection and manipulation
  • amazing visual design of "actions", the workflow attached to a web form
  • of course, this would be of little use without system integration, so everything can be hooked up (or from) using Web Services
  • final touch is versioning, a must in any serious environment that evolves over time
Other similar solutions: FormBuilder from FormAssembly LLC and InfoPath from Microsoft. FormAssembly doesn't seems to go as far as CogHead. Although very powerful, InfoPath is still limited in its capacity to deploy rich internet applications, even in its latest 2007 incarnation.

I'm eager to be able to play with CogHead!

Note: I don't have any benefits derived from any of the aforementioned products or companies.

What makes a good manager?

A few days ago I read about the skills to look for in a web analytics manager.

This reminded me of two things:

  1. Early in my career I read a book called “Becoming a technical leader”, by Ken Orr, where he highlighted the skills of a good leader, but also the fact that not everyone can/should follow what appears to be a natural path to management, and would be better off becoming a “guru” in their field of technical expertise. He highlights that "Innovation", "Motivation", and "Organization" are the three key components of being a technical leader.
  2. The second thought is that oftentimes, a good manager can "feel" your passion, your emotions, and your frustrations because he/she had a similar "way of the cross". We now hear more often that an MBA diploma doesn't have anything to do with being a good or a bad manager. Experience and enlightenment doesn’t come with a nice piece of paper...
As a closing point, I wanted to share the following anecdote:

Between 1994-1999 I worked for Softimage, at that time a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft. I was hired to put the anti-piracy mechanism into high-end 3D animation softwares used in special effects found in movies and games, but I was also the "webmaster" of softimage.com (check out how the site looked in 1997! The Wayback machine is soooo useful!).

Back to my story...

One day we had a visit from a Microsoft guy who's job was to travel the world and talk about security. I don't remember a darn thing about what he said, except this little statement:
Always make your boss look good
And he went on to explain that if the boss is really good, he will get a promotion and you will take his job. On the other hand, if he is a complete idiot, he will get fired and you will still get his job!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Tag you're it! The 5 Things Meme

I first noticed the tag game on Avinash Kaushik's blog and honestly, I was secretly hoping someone would tag me! Today I was tagged by June Li from ClickInsight. A nice idea that started way back and is getting crazy all over the blogosphere. The idea is simple: part viral, part social, when you get tagged you're supposed to reveal five things about yourself, and pass the tag along to five other bloggers.
  1. For about 2 years I was a first responder in my community, the nice town of Bromont in Quebec's Eastern Township region. Ski, snowboard and mountain bike accidents were common, even occasional horseback. From minor injuries to deadly car accidents. The call that changed my life came when I went for cardiac problems just a few houses away, on the same street were I lived. 42 years old, first heart attack, was known to work long hours. Father of two, a 15 years old daughter and a 10 years old son who was sleeping upstairs and woke up in the morning without a father. One of my own son's friend. I was taking the men's heartbeat, then it stoped, we were there, we did everything we could, including use of AED (Automatic External Defibrillator). He was confirmed dead at the hospital.
    I still remember every second of it, every sound, every smell... every cry from his wife. That night, I hold my wife and kids in my arms in a very different way.
  2. When I want to completely disconnect from web analytics, from the job and the little annoying things in life, I get away at our camp. No phone, no television, no Internet and no one around.

  3. In high school I had weak results, so university was out of reach for me. I graduated with a college degree in computing in 1997. In 2003 I skipped the bachelor degree and started an eBusiness MBA. I now figure on the honor roll with a cumulative average of 94%.

  4. At age 24 I was married, had a house, two kids and a dog :)

  5. My Myers Briggs Personality Type appears to be ENFP, which means I would tend to be Extraverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, and Perceiving. The MBTI description is surprisingly accurate about me:
Warmly enthusiastic and imaginative. See life as full of possibilities. Make connections between events and information very quickly, and confidently proceed based on the patterns they see. Want a lot of affirmation from others, and readily give appreciation and support. Spontaneous and flexible, often rely on their ability to improvise and their verbal fluency.
Just for the fun of it, here's where it came from:

June Li < Kathryn Lagden < Michael Seaton < Mitch Joel < Ana Farmery < Heidi Miller < Tom Vender Well < Drew McLellan < Liz Strauss < Phil Gerbyshak < Pam < Wendy Piersall < Holly < Kelly < Simran < D.T.Kelly < Dawno < Victoria Strauss < Cathy Clamp < Jackie Kessler < Heather Brewer < Erica Orloff < Sara Hantz < Alyssa Goodnight < Amanda Brice < Tara M.Leigh < Karen (I stopped there... might continue later)

Since I like thinking about the Internet and its impacts on our social behavior, this tag game is very interesting. Notice the ratio of female to male, could it be that females are more inclined to play this kind of game? Getting closer to me, the background is more web analytics, then marketing, up to the early root where people profiles are more book writers and authors.

Now I need to tag five other people:
(I'm cheating a bit and I tag six people instead of five, the last two entries are not active bloggers but are closely involved with the Web and the Internet)

I also like Robbin Steif from LunaMetrics idea of turning the blog tag upside down: what do you like or dislike about my blog? What would you like to see more about? Blogging shouldn't be just writing about my interests, it's sharing it with others, and this inevitably requires some feedback and conversations :)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A book by Avinash Kaushik

While looking for some books on Amazon on few weeks ago, I stumbled on an upcoming book from someone I would consider a "guru" in web analytics: Avinash Kaushik. The Amazon.ca entry, simply titled "Web Analytics", is later stated as "Web Analytics: An Hour a Day", the book description says:

Web analytics expert Avinash Kaushik goes beyond web analytics concepts and definitions to provide a step-by-step guide to implementing a successful web analytics strategy. His revolutionary approach to web analytics challenges prevalent thinking about the field and guides readers, step-by-step, to a solution that will provide truly informed and actionable insights.
The book will cover those topics, partially gleaned from the very good posts on his blog :

  1. The web analytics field and where it’s going
  2. How to start the analysis process and the importance of qualitative data
  3. Web analytics strategy and implementation as well as a quick-start guide
  4. Advanced analytics concepts (statistical significance, SEM and PPC, segmentation, conversion-rates, etc.)

I was surprised there was no word about it on Avinash's site, and no traces on the Yahoo! Discussion Group. I thought I had stumbled on a little hidden secret, so I posted to my blog immediately. I got a very nice email from Avinash a few hours later kindly asking to keep it "low profile" about his upcoming book. In his own words, he said "This might sound a bit kooky but I am trying to keep the book a secret". Of course, I have the highest respect for Avinash so I removed my post, up until someone elses posted about it on the Yahoo Group yesterday.

A lot of people in the web analytics field suggested, asked, pleaded for a book from Avinash! I'm sure this will be a delight to read.

Guess what I did?

Pre-order on Amazon.ca or Amazon.com

Monday, December 11, 2006

Remember Bob? Here's Ms. Dewey

Remember Microsoft Bob? The annoying little gizmo that always wanted to help you out?

Well... Microsoft is at it again in a different way. Meet Ms. Dewey, she is there to help you out with your searches. It features an attractive woman named Ms. Dewey and through seamless audio/video interactivity, she does the searches for you. Watch it out, it's worth it and way cool... but one has to wonder the real usefulness of such a tool. It's powered by Microsoft Live Search and knowing Outlook 2007 includes VOIP, there might be some relations. More info on Wikipedia.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

WASP - Web Analytics Solution Profiler

Update: WASP v0.2 has been released on February 3rd
WASP v0.2 has been released on February 3rd.
WASP is the Web Analytics Solution Profiler, a Firefox extension aimed at web analytics implementation specialists, web analysts and savvy web surfers who wants to understand how their behavior is being analyzed.


Couple of easy steps to get running:
  1. Download & install Firefox if you don't already have it
  2. Install the extension.Get Firefox
  3. Restart Firefox.
  4. In Firefox, use View/Sidebar/WASP to display it.


This version of WASP is as an early beta release aimed at web analytics implementation specialists for evaluation and feedback. Although some features and aesthetic elements are missing, no major bugs were identified (i.e. your browser shouldn't be slowed down or crash...). Your feedback is highly valuable and appreciated!

Current features

  • Easy to install Firefox extension
  • Detects 14 web analytics solutions

    Google Analytics

    Omniture SiteCatalyst

    WebSideStory HBX


    Web Trends


    Google Ad



    IBM Surf Aid

    Visual Sciences




Upcoming features

  • Extend the list of supported tools and provide more extensive Query String analysis
  • Allow switching between URL Encode/Decode views
  • Display information about 1st and 3rd party cookie status
  • Display HTTP headers
  • Display P3P status
  • Put supported tools in a configuration file editable trough preferences
  • Allow sorting of value-pairs, copy (or export) of values
  • Add knowledge base links allowing to get additional information on any piece of data being sent
  • Document the detection mechanism for easier contributions by the web analytics community
  • Handle frames and iframes
  • Add a tab to show Alexa and Google PageRank information about the page currently being displayed
Please post a comment for new feature requests.

Known bugs

Things happen!
  • Use a different accelerator than Ctrl-W to toggle the sidebar display... Ctrl-W is used for closing Windows!
  • Actually process even when the WASP tab is not shown
  • Some values displayed as "undefined" when null
  • Should process when switching tabs or on initial open
  • If page is loading slowly WASP seems to hang until "onload" completion
  • If replacing WASP sidebar by another one, then show it again, WASP doesn't work anymore
  • Need some XUL display adjustments (scroll/resize/focus)
Please post a comment if you discover new bugs.

Tip of the hat

Some credits goes to the following people for their inspiration or simply helping me out with some bugs!
  • WAVcheck, from Webbanalys, extends on the same idea with an executable version which can detect up to 27 different vendors.
  • Rahul Revo posted on his blog a request for a Greasemonkey extension that would detect Google Analytics. Mohnsish Rao proposed a simple solution.
  • Mike Keyes, on his blog "On the trail", created a simple bookmarklet (a one-liner JavaScript you can put in your favorites) that will detect a bunch of different vendors. Cool, simple and works in both Firefox and Internet Explorer.
  • Vendors sometimes provides their own debugging aids, usually in the form of a bookmarklet that will display the parameters being passed to their data warehouse.
  • Some have proposed developing Unix-based scripts with grep and wget or perl but it looks to me like a pretty complex endeavors that have its own limitations.
  • Or you could get help from your vendor or ask for a independent consultants to help you out. Maxamine is one of them.
  • Other "complementary" solutions that might help: Watchfire WebQA is particularly good at crawling a site and looking for specific code.
  • Fiddler or ieWatch are two useful tools for Internet Explorer.
  • Charles is a proxy that records every communication between your browser and the Internet and will work with both MSIE and Firefox.
  • I use a bunch of Firefox extensions to help me in my day to day Web development activities. Look for FireBug, Live HTTP Headers, View Dependencies and Web Developer and View Cookies.
  • AlertSite recently posted a Firefox extension named DejaClick. Not only is this extension wonderful as a very powerful macro recorder, but it is also one of the best packaged extension I have seen so far.
  • I found out the spirit of the early days of the Web is still alive in the specialized groups I relied upon to help me out with some development issues. Thanks to Neil & Nickolay from mozzila.dev.extensions

Revision history

  • 2006/11/30 - 0.1 - Early beta release to the WA community

Sunday, November 26, 2006

From shamel.blogspot.com to immeria.net

Welcome "immeria.net"

I decided to switch from Blogger's free hosting at shamel.blogspot.com to my own domain at immeria.net. A few years ago I owned immeria.com but didn't renew it... this was a mistake since getting it back now would be much more difficult.

Once again, the excellent blogging tips on Avinash Kaushik web site was an inspiration. I've been generally satisfied with Blogger since I started blogging in the autumn of 2002. The new Blogger version also looks very promising and while changing my configurations, I decided to switch to it immediately. In the meantime, immeria.net will simply redirect to shamel.blogspot.com, hopefully Blogger will release its new software version soon!

What's in a name?

The word immeria refers to the notion of immersion or flow: an experience that is at once demanding and rewarding. (Flow: The psychology of optimal experience). It is also inspired by the german word "immer", which mean "always", "forever". Combined together, this would mean being "constantly immersed in a rewarding experience", in this case, web analytics, which is the main subject of this blog and a key element in understanding the user experience on the web.

Ongoing projects

Being able to administer my own domain is also important for my ongoing and upcoming activities:

  • I'm still pursuing my eBusiness MBA (in French) and was recently honored for achieving superior grades. I'm using my own hosting to provide Wiki and other group collaboration features to the remote team's I'm working with. For example, I worked with 5 other persons from around the world on a semester project. Although we never actually met face to face, we used Skype, MediaWiki and activeCollab and were able to achieve outstanding results.
  • My involvement in the Web Analytics community can also benefit from the control of my own domain. Features such as the Web Analytics Google Co-Op Search, Google Calendar, Web Metric Quebec, Web Analytics Conversations, and such will be revamped to take advantage of immeria.net
  • WASP, the Web Analytics Solution Profiler, is getting closer to a first public beta and some features will be relayed trough immeria.net

If you notice some problems with the site, let me know, and stay tuned for the upcoming design refresh, new features, and new posts!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Beginning in Web Analytics

Recently, on the Yahoo! Web Analytics Group, we've seen a couple of people asking how to get started in web analytics. Today, someone asked the same question on the Web Metrics Quebec forum. There is no "Web Analytics for Dummies" yet... but one should be published in the spring of 2007. So here are a few selected sources to get you started:

Friday, November 10, 2006

New discussion group: Web Metrics Quebec

Following the latest Web Analytics Wednesday, we decided to create a discussion group dedicated to Web Analytics in our local market. There are a couple of reasons to do so:
  • The Quebec/Canadian market are very different in terms of business size
  • The Canadian laws related to privacy are slightly different than those in the US and other countries
  • There are some cultural differences, notably language in Quebec (french)
  • A local discussion group will foster exchanges between practitioners, consultants and providers
So if you want to better understand your web site visitors and answer their needs based on actionable data, this group is for you!

Google Groups Beta
Web Metrics Quebec
Visit this group

Although the discussions are likely to address local concerns and often be in french, everyone is welcome to participate.

P.S. You might be tempted to ask "Why is this group named Web Metrics Quebec rather than Web Analytics Quebec?". Simply because Google, in his great wisdom, made sure we couldn't insert bad words in our Google Group name, such as the first four letters of the word "analytics"!

Thursday, November 9, 2006

November Montreal's WaW

Yesterday's WaW in Montreal went well, about a dozen people attended. Again, great discussions around the products themselves, mostly WebTrends, Omniture, HBX, Coremetrics and the inevitable Google Analytics.

We also talked about the pricing structure for our Canadian/Québec market, difficulty of getting management buy in (quick win approach seemed the most frequent) and lack of professional resources. Those seems to be recurring topics everywhere!

We talked about organizing a thematic day on web analytics where we would present local case studies and try to get some vendors to present. Our local market is so small that we would have to piggy back on another event and include usability, design, web development in general, etc. Kind of a mini eMetrics summit... that would require much more organization than the WaW!

Next WaW: January 10th (we take break during december...)

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Protect Your Customers’ Privacy Ethically, Not Legally

Following the recent posts about privacy and web analytics, it appears that ChangeThis was at it too with a new Manifesto entitled "The Seven Principles of Privacy: Protect Your Customers’ Privacy Ethically, Not Legally", authored by David Holtzman. I guess this will be covered in depth in his book "Privacy Lost: How Technology is Endangering Your Privacy". The manifesto highlights 7 ethical principles which might be worth looking at:
  1. Don't spy on me because you can
  2. Thou shall erase my data: Don’t keep data any longer than you have to; you can’t give up what you don’t have.
  3. Keep my information to thyself: Require customers to opt-in for each additional use of their information.
  4. Don't judge me: Never create a profiling system that labels your customers in a way that you’d have trouble justifying if they ever saw their file, because some day they probably will.
  5. Protect my data like it were thine own: Provide the best computer security that you can afford.
  6. I am who I say I am: Let your customers pick their own demographics.
  7. Don't humiliate me: Avoid embarrassing your customers by mishandling their data.
Some of those points really focus on corporate employees, while others could be applied to anonymous data, and some are really closely tied to personal information management.

I really like the conclusion of the manifesto:
Laws make poor privacy guidelines. Business people need better directions when navigating their customer relationships than simply to be told to steer around legal roadblocks. Boardroom discussions should be less about what is permissible and prohibited and more about what is positive and proactive—in short, what is ethical. The question should not be “Can we do this?” but “Should we do this?” “What’s the right thing to do?” If your company handles the electronic representation of the customer the way that they’d deal with them if they were standing face-to-face, you’ll do fine.
It is more a general view on privacy and anonymity not specific to web analytics, however, there are some good tidbits in the complete article (plus, the ChangeThis format is fantastic, check it out if you never had the chance before!).

Monday, November 6, 2006

Web 2.0 Measurement Working Group

This week-end I really experienced for the first time the power of social networking. I submitted my point of view entitled "Google growing larger than Microsoft?" to Digg and within hours, my site traffic skyrocketed to about 40 times its usual traffic. The post made the top 10 ranks of the Tech Industry News for November 6th.

From an analytical standpoint, this is interesting for many reasons:
  • I got a huge increase in traffic, but it turned out to be narrowed to that single post. There was a 84% bounce rate on that post, clearly reflecting the way people use services such as Digg: get an interesting newsbit, scan it (and sometimes read it!), and get out. At least, that's the way I'm using Digg, Technorati, Reddit and even Google Reader.
  • My page view/visit ratio went down from over 4 to barely over 1. If I had a visit/conversion KPIs, they would be totally out of control.
  • The average attention span on that post was slightly over 2 minutes, which is barely enough to scan this long article and focus on the most interesting paragraphs.
With the number of people blogging and competing to get their share of attention, simply measuring blog traffic with Google Analytics is certainly not enough, and making the long run to get the stats out of every tools is tedious, if even possible. Casual bloggers faces the same data convergence challenge company do: how to retrieve value out of disseminated interaction points stocked in heterogeneous systems, in different formats, and different units of measure?

This boils down to the fact that measuring page views is not enough. We need to start thinking in terms of "significant user event", be it an RSS read, social network posts and their ratings, a specific user action within a page or more conventionally allowing some of our attention for reading a page or looking at a product. And thats where the "Web 2.0 Measurement Working Group" can contribute: what should be measured, and how?

In this respect, measuring "Attention", as defined by Beck & Davenport, might be a good path to investigate.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Web Analytics and Privacy

The heat is on again: an activist group is asking the US Federal Trade Commission to investigate the use of personal information, which, in my view, is already well governed by existing laws not only in the US, but in most countries, including Canada. The problem is this group mixes personally identified data collection and includes web analytics and anonymous data collection in the same bag.

The Web Analytics blogosphere is likely to have passionate views in regard to this opinion. So far, one of the most interesting post comes from the Web Analytics Yahoo group. The argument is simple, evident, and clearly expressed: there is already a user consent for anonymous data collection covered by privacy policies posted on any serious web site.

My contribution to this discussion is in regard to PIPEDA, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Document Act, the Canadian law that governs the collection of private information. In a nutshell, that means the information must be:
  • gathered with the user's consent
  • collected for a reasonable purpose
  • used only for the limited purposes for which it was gathered
  • accurate
  • open for your inspection and correction
  • stored securely
This is expressed in 10 principles:
  1. Accountability
  2. Identifying purposes
  3. Consent
  4. Limiting collection
  5. Limiting use, disclosure, and retention
  6. Accuracy
  7. Safeguards
  8. Openness
  9. Individual access
  10. Challenging compliance
It is worth to note these principles not only covers the collection of personal information, but also applies to anonymous information as well. We have to admit, however, the law is not strongly enforced. Still, those who try to comply have found it reasonable and it doesn't impact the ability to use web analytics tools to better understand their user audience and preferences.

The W3C also offers some guidelines in the form of "P3P: The Platform for Privacy Preference". Although not widely used so far, I think sites offering the information about their P3P policy have an advantage:
The Platform for Privacy Preferences Project (P3P) enables Websites to express their privacy practices in a standard format that can be retrieved automatically and interpreted easily by user agents. P3P user agents will allow users to be informed of site practices (in both machine- and human-readable formats) and to automate decision-making based on these practices when appropriate. Thus users need not read the privacy policies at every site they visit.
P.S. Note the province of Quebec is governed by a similar act named "An Act respecting the protection of personal information in the private sector"

Monday, October 30, 2006

Web Analytics conversations

Last updated: March 11th, 2008
How do you follow the most interesting conversations about Web Analytics? Subscribe to the most complete aggregated feed of blogs discussing about web analytics!

Current conversations

Add to Google Reader or use your own reader RSS
All of those are also included in the Web Analytics Co-Op Search
Missing your blog? Post a comment and I will fix that!

Optimize for international visitors?

As quoted from "The Unofficial Google Analytics blog" in a recent post entitled "The promise of overseas visitors":
In general, people don't optimize their website for non-USA traffic. It never crosses many people's mind. Why would it? Who else would be looking for your site, anyway?
I find it a bit surprising there are still people who don't optimize with internationalization in mind. Unless you offer a very narrow and local content or service, I think international visitors should always be granted with respect. If you don't want or can't support international visitors (because of commercial or logistic constraints), that's fine, but let them know as soon as possible!

Here in Quebec we are very sensitive and accustomed to this reality: we speak french while being surrounded by english culture. How many times to we end up on sites offering a french version assuming we are in France? How many times do we end up on a site to be abruptly abandoned after many promising steps to finally reach the lethal questions: state and zip code. Sorry "canadian", your "persona non grata".

Just for the sake of discussion, while the blog where this post came from shows 70% traffic from the US, my blog, with similar interests, shows radically different geographic spread:

All things being equal, notions like "foreign" and "overseas" don't make much sense anymore... we're all a bit "foreign" and, well, we're certainly all "overseas" somehow!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Google growing larger than Microsoft?

Update, Novembre 6th: This post has been updated to reflect some comments following its post to Digg, shown as one of the top stories under Tech Industry News.

The news tip

The source: A small note on MarketingPilgrim refers to the Boston Globe own reference to Fred Wilson's summary of an HipMojo blog post entitled "Google To Boast Larger Market Capitalization than Microsoft in 2010" (wow! talk about blogs and cross-pollination!) stating in a very prophetic tone that at the actual rate, Google will have a larger market cap than Microsoft by 2010.
"Could be a peak into a crystal ball", Fred Wilson
The stock graph accompanying the article compares MSFT and GOO. Not too revealing for now...

My theory of evolution

Several months ago (Feb. 2005) I blogged about (in French) my own theory of evolution from IBM hardware supremacy up to Google information-age domination. The graph bellow emphasizes what I meant at that time:

  • 1960-80, The Hardware era: In the 60s, IBM ruled the computing world with their hardware. Naturally, they also provided the operating system and most applications.
  • 1980-94, The OS era: The 80s clearly brought Microsoft to the forefront. They didn't bother about the hardware (I remember running MS DOS and Microsoft Flight Simulator v1.0 to "certify" the machine was truly an IBM PC compatible clone). Quickly, Microsoft took the realm of the applications running on their OS, and in mid 90s the infamous "The Internet Tidal Wave" memo turned over Microsoft attention toward the Internet. See the two part article from BusinessWeek on the topic: "Inside Microsoft" part1 and part2. Microsoft was challenged by newcomers such as Netscape. Clearly, OS is not important anymore: applications are.
  • 1994-2001, The Big Extinction: Then eBay, Yahoo! and Amazon grew up to Internet mega-star levels. This period was also the era that ended abruptly in 2001: the Internet bubble. Extremes, chaos, broken dreams... but also lots of innovation. Many didn't survive, a some passed beyond the extinction point and fewer stand-up today. Now what? We care less about applications, more about connectivity (it's all about the hyperlink model) and access to information and services.
  • 1998- ,The Information Age: Google's mission "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful" is becoming a reality. First, a web search engine, than news, images, books, maps, database, payment, and recently, videos from the rising star YouTube and while being at it, why not bring some softwares to make it easier to control the information: Blogger, Picasa, Writely (now Google Docs) and Spreadsheet, and a lot more. Do we care about hardware, OS's and applications? Much less than before!
  • 2006- (still to be named): I can't go without saying something about Web 2.0, not as much about the technology, but about the philosophy of Web 2.0. So far there is no clear dominant player. Some would say it's starting to look like an echo wave of a tsunami. I would argue we are more mature, more serious about it and generally more cautious about the potential outcomes. There seems to be actually no player who could dislodge Google. Nevertheless, the concepts of Web 2.0 serves as a strong enabler of new innovations:
    • Network as a platform: allowing mashups
    • User empowerment: you own your data, anywhere, anytime, anyway
    • Architecture of participation and democracy: I'm a human being, not a cookie.
    • Richer user experience: if I can use it online without hassle, why install a software?
    • Social network aspects: "the power of many"
    Could the next wave be the ultimate democratization of information and software? We can think about Wikipedia and FLOSS. Those would be long dead based on past financial criteria, yet they are gaining enough momentum to exist as new economical model examples; they are largely based on the concept of "attention economy".

Can Google succeed as an innovative company?

When a company raises to the point of becoming a religious icon, there is always room for heated debates. Proponents of both all horizons refer to "stolen" innovations and "takeovers". Although they didn't invent the remedy to heal cancer, both companies often innovates in their own ways by repackaging existing technologies into new, easier and better products. In this respect, Google seems to have a cultural advantage over Microsoft.

Company maturity and volume

Microsoft is much more "mature" than Google. So are IBM, Oracle and Apple. Remember at one point IBM had cash flow, market cap, sales force, consulting services, everything Microsoft have today, yet, depending on the financial indicators, IBM has been shadowed by all the companies mentioned above.

The maths

If you speak fluent "finance", read carefully the original article from HipMojo and you will understand the mathematical aspect of revenues, profits and P/E. That's one interesting point of view and a very well articulated post!

My own conclusion

When I read MarketingPilgrim's note I immediately thought about my two top-of-the-list book: "The Tipping Point" from Malcolm Gladwell and "The Attention Economy" from Dr. Thom Davenport . In my opinion, the "tipping point" passed somewhere around the second quarter of 2005 when the sheer volume of "attention" shifted from Microsoft to Google, as shown in the Google Trends below:

The example above highlights Google Trends view, which is based on the search frequency of Microsoft and Google. Other tools can be used to get similar insights: BlogPulse by Nielsen looks at blog buzz for up to 6 months. Still, the trend is there: check out Microsoft, Google and Apple.

In my mind, there is no doubt Google will economically surpass Microsoft. And I'm not alone, as my running poll shows:

No doubt 43%285
Probably 25%165
Maybe 19%125
No way 14%91
666 votes total

Do you think Google will surpass Microsoft?
No doubt
No way

Free polls from Pollhost.com

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Google Co-op Custom Search Engine

Google innovates again with the possibility of creating your own specialized Google search, and this can be done cooperatively.

My first shot at it, of course, is to create a Web Analytics specialized search engine where all solution and service providers would be presented, along with specialists and practitioners in the field.

FeaturesGoogle Co-Op

Configuration is a snap and provides good parametrization of the various features:
  • definition and subject of your specialized search,
  • indexed sites which can be exclusive or given preference in the search results,
  • labeling the results, which ease refinement of search results,
  • tweaking the look & feel,
  • including a search box in your site,
  • managing the collaborative aspects (contributors & volunteers) and doing invitations,
  • setting up adSense
  • and uploading annotations easily built with Google Marker (trough OPML or XML format).


  • Current number of sites in the Web Analytics specialized search: October 24th, 42
    November 2nd, 80
  • Refinements: Blogs, Solution, Services, Reference
  • Collaborators: 1
    Important! If you want to collaborate to enhance and extend this specialized search, send me a quick email (shamel67(at)gmail.com) or create a profile (provide your URL) so I know who you are. Otherwise your collaboration request will be rejected!


Be warned that the Google Co-Op Search is still in beta... and it shows! After a few days of using it, here are some stuff to be careful with:
  • Collaboration is far from being complete. When someone asks to collaborate, you can't even see their email address. It is also possible to ask for contribution without a profile, which leads to some confusion about who is contributing...
  • When adding new sites, be careful to use only the most meaningful URL. That is, avoid putting "http" (useless) and specify "www" only if it makes a difference, such as "www.iperceptions.com" vs " blog.iperceptions.com"
  • Surprisingly, there is actually very little stats you can get to know if your search engine is being used or not. I would expect some Google Analytics hooked up to it.
  • Of course, the concept only works if people actually use it and suggest sites to be indexed. I think the code to create a search box should be widely available to anyone who wants to use it on their site, not just the owner or contributors. Here's the code
<form id="searchbox_017598970026374442327:f6fozzzu_qk" action="http://www.google.com/cse">
<input type="hidden" name="cx" value="017598970026374442327:f6fozzzu_qk">
<input name="q" type="text" size="40">
<input type="submit" name="sa" value="Search">
<input type="hidden" name="cof" value="FORID:1">
<script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.google.com/coop/cse/brand?form=searchbox_017598970026374442327%3Af6fozzzu_qk"></script>
<!-- Google CSE Search Box Ends -->


Monday, October 23, 2006

Web 2.0: buzzword?

M. Mohamed Kahlain, un collègue de travail et stratège chez Desjardins.com, participera bientôt à un déjeuner-causerie qui traitera du Web 2.0.


Certains experts ne jurent que par le Web 2.0 qui, par sa nature, influencerait les modèles d'affaires. Certains autres mettent en doute ce concept et attendent toujours de voir les retombées d'affaires de ce « buzzword ».
Deux stratégistes Web s'affronteront dans un débat afin de savoir si oui ou non le Web 2.0 est une avenue prometteuse pour les retombées commerciales de nos entreprises. Venez donc entendre Michel Leblanc, associé principal chez Analyweb, blogueur réputé sur les sujets du web 2.0 et du marketing 2.0 et Mohamed Kahlain, stratège internet de la Fédération des Caisses Desjardins et scéptique convaincu de l'inutilité du Web 2.0 dans un contexte d'affaires.
Qui a raison ? Qui a tort ? La réponse pourrait vous ouvrir des perspectives nouvelles!
Le débat sera animé par Gilles Lajoie, La Presse Affaires.com

Date : 01 Novembre 2006
Heure : 8h à 9h30
Type : Petit déjeuner
Conférencier : Michel Leblanc, associé principal, Analyweb et Mohamed Kahlain, conseiller vente et stratégies pour desjardins.com, Fédération des Caisses Desjardins
Lieu : Le Saint Sulpice Hôtel Montréal
Salle Le Moyne/le Ber
414, rue Saint-Sulpice, Montréal
Inscription : http://www.marketing-montreal.com/amm/activites?id=607#news_item_607

Mon opinion:

J'aurais bien aimé participer à cette rencontre, mais mon horaire et la distance ne me le permettent pas. Comment pallier à cette contrainte de temps et d'espace? En parler sur mon blog, dans un premier temps, et qui sait, peut-être que quelqu'un pourra l'enregistrer et la publier sur YouTube? Peut-être même que l'expression de mon opinion résultera en une discussion et au plus grand partage de nos opinions respectives, et ce, pour le bénéfice de tous ceux qui s'y intéressent? Espace, temps, opinion, communication... voilà l'essence des principes du Web 2.0!
Prenons un premier exemple: YouTube est sans contredit un modèle d'entreprise du type Web2.0, voici d'ailleurs la définition qu'en donne Wikipedia (un autre modèle concret et utile de Web 2.0!):
YouTube is a popular free video sharing web site which lets users upload, view, and share video clips.

Je crois qu'il y a une distinction à faire entre certains concepts qui sont associés au Web 2.0 (ou Enterprise 2.0!?) et l'espèce de vague de folie qui rappelle l'ère de la bulle Internet.
Il y a des éléments indéniables qui ont une utilité dans nos entreprises et dans nos vies. Puisque la définition exacte de ce qu'est ou n'est pas le Web 2.0 est très suggestive, voici les caractéristiques du Web 2.0 retenu sur Wikipedia:

  • "Network as a platform": les concepts de "mashups" sont une concrétisation de l'impartition et de la spécialisation des services. Ceci permet en retour de se concentrer sur notre expertise d'entreprise ("core business"). Mon message précédent au sujet de MotionBased est une concrétisation d'une innovation qui n'aurait pas été possible sans le Web 2.0.
  • Contrôlé par les usagers: nous sommes en contrôle de ce que nous désirons "consommer" comme service et information: quand nous voulons, où nous le voulons, et sur le média que nous voulons, et plus encore, avec une diversité de sources et d'opinions à notre disposition. Comparez simplement la page personalisée de Google à ce qu'offre Canoë sur son portail: un offre la flexibilité du design et des sources d'information alors que l'autre...
  • Plateforme participative et démocratique: les technologies du Web 2.0 permettent de s'exprimer plus facilement, pour le meilleur et pour le pire, avec tout ce qu'il y a de positif et de plus noir chez l'Homme.
  • Interfaces riches et conviviales: il a été démontré depuis longtemps que la richesse et la qualité de l'expérience usager contribue à l'atteinte des objectifs d'affaires. Mais pour ma part, j'aime plutôt me placer dans la perspective "utilisateur": la qualité et la richesse de l'interface facilitent l'atteinte de mes objectifs.
  • Réseaux sociaux: le pouvoir marketing est entre les mains des consommateurs, qui peuvent influencer et exercer leur opinion librement et facilement. Bien utilisés, les concepts de Web 2.0 offrent des possibilités incroyables, comme le démontre la récente campagne de Dove, qui a fait rapidement le tour du monde, encouragé et alimenté par une communauté qui y a vu une valeur (le simple fait que je mentionne cette campagne sur ce blog est une concrétisation de ce concept de "réseautage social"!)


Je crois que tout comme les concepts de "ebusiness", qui ont d'abord été perçus comme des recettes miracles et une panacée, le Web 2.0 évoluera au niveau d'une intégration normale et toute simple au coeur de nos vies et de nos entreprises. Le Web 2.0 est une évolution logique (et non une révolution!) qui s'exprime actuellement à travers l'expérimentation, l'innovation, une part de chaos et d'improvisation, mais qui contribuera ultimement à l'évolution des modèles d'affaires et influencera nos vies. Je ne jure pas que par le Web 2.0, mais je ne peux mettre en doute que le Web 2.0 exercera, et exerce déjà, une grande influence sur nos vies.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Upcoming webinar on analytics by Prof. Davenport

The Attention EconomyI just got an email from Aquent on behalf of the American Marketing Association inviting me to register for an upcoming webinar talking about analytics. This webinar will be presented by Prof. Thomas Davenport, a renowned authority in the field and author of one of my favorite books: The Attention Economy.

Prof. Davenport wrote a paper entitled "Competing on analytics" and will soon publish a book on the same topic.

Here's the excerpt from the mail invitation:


  • Aquent and the American Marketing Association present a free webinar with analytics expert, Professor Tom Davenport: Competing on Analytics: Move Faster, Accomplish More, and Avoid Mistakes by Learning From The Best
  • Davenport, an international authority on business and marketing analytics, is the author of "Competing on Analytics", a critically-acclaimed Harvard Business Review article. While researching the article and a soon-to-be-published book of the same name, Davenport profiled over 25 early adopter organizations that now successfully compete on the basis of their analytic prowess. Beyond the broad strategies used by pioneers like Capital One, Procter & Gamble, Amazon, and the New England Patriots, he detailed the often painful tactical mistakes and missteps made along the way by these analytic leaders. In this webinar, Davenport will discuss what data-driven marketing is (and isn't), the broad strategies and specific tactics these early adopters believe were essential to their success (and what they'd do differently next time), and how marketers can be professionally successful in these tumultuous times. The webinar will be of interest to all business-to-consumer and business-to-business marketers, especially those challenged with making analytics work on a practical basis within their organizations.


  • October 31, 2006 @ 1:00 pm EST (45 minute presentation and 15 minute Q&A)


Professor Tom Davenport of Boston's Babson College
  • Author of critically-acclaimed Harvard Business Review article "Competing on Analytics" (being released as a book in Spring 2007)
  • International authority on analytics as a business and marketing strategy
  • Prominent consultant, speaker, and pundit

What participants will learn:

  • What data-driven marketing is (and isn't)
  • How marketing visionaries like Capital One, P&G, Amazon, and the New England Patriots are using analytics for competitive advantage
  • What specific tactics these early adopters believe are essential to their success (and what they'd do differently next time)
  • How you can personally succeed as a marketer during these tumultuous times

Who should attend:

  • Business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketers at all levels, up to and including CMO's, Vice Presidents of Marketing
  • Information technology professionals, particularly those in fields involving collaboration with marketing colleagues

How to register:

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Competitive analysis and monitoring

I believe there are strong links between web analytics and performance metrics. For example, if you experience a drop in conversion, how do you correlate that with the fact your infrastructure had some problems (performance, network, etc.)?

Another perspective is to be able to do competitive analysis: monitor competitors transactions and detect changes to a single page or a transction.

What I've been looking at recently are solutions such as Gomez, Keynote, Alertsite, Mercury End User Management and a bunch of other lower-end solutions (such as Site24x7 by Zoho).

However, it turns out that most of the tools are made for IT people who want to monitor and establish performance baselines (response time, SSL handshake, DNS resolution, etc.) and get alerted whenever something goes wrong. I have to admit the usability of those solutions is often awkward and not too intuitive.

I will continue to investigate this topic and post updates to my blog. Pending questions are:
  • what business tools (vs IT solutions) could be used for external end-to-end performance monitoring?
  • what tools could be used for competitive monitoring?
  • how to correlate infrastructure performance metrics with web analytics?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Web Analytics Wednesday (Montreal, Qc)

Suite au succès de la première rencontre de la communauté Analytique Web du Québec, nous répéterons l'expérience une seconde fois le 8 novembre 2006, de 18h à 21h au restaurant "Le Cartet",106 rue McGill, à Montréal (Google Map).

L'idée est d'instaurer la tradition de rencontres conviviales favorisant les discussions et les échanges au sujet de tout ce qui touche les statistiques Web, l'analyse du comportement des visiteurs, l'ergonomie, le design Web et l'analytique en général. Professionnels, utilisateurs, représentants de solutions ou de services se regroupent afin d'échanger et d'établir de nouveaux liens.

L'évènement est appuyé par la Web Analytics Association.

Si vous connaissez d'autres personnes susceptibles d'apprécier ces rencontres, vous êtes encouragés à leur en faire part!

P.S.: Nous cherchons un commanditaire pour prendre la première tournée.

CrazyEgg: heat maps for the mass

Following a post about CrazyEgg on LunaMetrics blog, I decided to subscribe and give it a try on my own blog. I'm already using Google Analytics, which was a snap to install and provides good insight. Although I find GA to be missing some important features and reporting capabilities when compared to the big 3 (Omniture, WebSideStory and Coremetrics), it's enough for a personal site and furthermore, it's free.

So back to CrazyEgg: subscription is free for small sites, then you define your goal (how long or how many visits?) and installation is a mater of copying & pasting a couple of lines of JavaScript in the right spot of your Blogger template. Lets look at each CrazyEgg reports after a couple of hours of tracking.


Provides a list of the clicked objects (text links or images) and number of clicks, the most basic information. While GA will tell you about the destination page name (the TITLE tag), CrazyEgg uses the link text itself, which can provide useful insight if your page have multiple links to the same destination, both uses different wordings.

Click Map

Neat color-coded overlay of link clicks. Already more revealing.

Heat Map

Probably the coolest feature: contrary to simple click map overlays, a heat map tells you exactly where people clicked. That's it, for my link "WaW in Montreal: 225% increase", we see the "heat" around the "225% increase". Another example is my post about "Web Analytics Wednesday - Québec", where it's clearly the word "Quebec" that was clicked. There was also some clear interest for my LinkedIn profile.

Simplified A/B testing

Just like CrazyEgg will tell you which links are performing better on a single page, it will also tell you which of two page design works better. This is really a simplified A/B testing technique. Again, the biggest merit of CrazyEgg is to bring this technique to the mass.


Blogs are often composed of other scriptlets or gadgets. In most cases, they will take the form of a SCRIPT reference or an IFRAME. IFRAME are really pages hosted osomeone else'sss web site and thus, what happen in there (clicks and any other interactions) is really out of your control and obviously, not measured by Google Analytics, CrazyEgg or any other tools. Script embedding techniques offers more control and will generally work with analytics solutions.


CrazyEgg is a simple and useful addition as a complement to any analytics solution, maybe especially bloggers using Google AnalyticsAltoughht other heat map solutions are typically expensive and a bit more complex to use, they are usually part of a planned and structured analysis process which includes analysis and skilled personnel to help you out. I would say that CrazyEgg, just like Google Analytics, increases awareness of the field of usability, design and analytics. Companies should still investigate to find the best fit for their needs.