The rapid evolution of business on the Internet has dramatically changed many organizations’ strategies for growth and profitability, especially those in the retail sector. I have written about the importance of analytics overall and in retail, but many companies are maturing slowly in using them to analyze electronic business and commerce. Data derived from analytics can enable them to manage the cycle from electronic merchandising and promotions to assessing interactions with sales categories and products and then to details of customer behavior and revenue. While there have been advancements in analytics of Web traffic, more is needed to be done to operate the Internet channel of retailing like those of “bricks and mortar.” As I have written about the evolution of Web sites to business sites (See: “Destroy the Website and Build Your Business on the Internet“), organizations need to invest in this business not just with people and processes but with the information and technology required to be successful. Our recent benchmark research into business intelligence found slight maturity and inadequate use of analytics to support retail. The research specifically discovered that the overuse of spreadsheets and lack of analytic capabilities are holding back organizations from maturing: Only 15 percent of retailers are at the highest Innovative level of maturity according to our Ventana Research Maturity Model.
Infopia provides software for planning and execution of e-commerce transactions with a product called Infopia Transact. Now the company has announced and introduced Enterprise eCommerce Analytics, which enables integrating e-business data for Web site traffic, sales and other activities into a single data model in which analytics can be applied to generate operational metrics. These metrics become the foundation for an interactive dashboard where multiple roles can interact and discover ways to optimize efforts. I like that Infopia provides all the basic reports and prebuilt dashboards in the package, which can be exported directly into Microsoft Excel. If your organization is struggling to perform analytics for profitability, customer lifetime value, order referral and other valuable metrics, they become readily available with this product.
Infopia makes it available through the rental model of software as a service (SaaS) and uses the tenets of cloud computing to make it easy for customers to get onboard and start using the product. This approach is growing in importance, as our research in the retail industry found: More than half of retail organizations will be assessing new approaches to help them with analytics and business intelligence (BI), and more than one-third are looking at SaaS. Infopia has addressed one of the difficult points of entry by making it easier to upload and integrate data sources into its underlying data model; the software handles the rest of the analytic processing to ease longstanding challenges in data integration that often required extensive technology consulting work.
In other approaches to retail analytics for e-business I have seen, some require significant expense and resources to implement on-premises and establish the data model and metrics while others turn out to be just BI tools available in the cloud computing environment. Infopia has built the model and metrics and the application interfaces on top of analytic technologies from QlikView; this base will enable Infopia to advance readily and utilize advancements like mobility for users who want to be able to access analytics from the convenience of their mobile devices. In addition Infopia has an experienced team with backgrounds and expertise in analytics.
Readily available solutions like these from Infopia can help retailers significantly improve their information and technology competencies and mature in the dynamic channel of e-business. Building a similar approach with traditional BI tools would take much longer; just as companies do not build their own e-commerce technology for online transactions, it is best not to build your analytics from scratch. Retail business leaders with support from IT should evaluate ways to get savvier with analytics for e-business. Infopia now needs to make itself more well known in the industry and communicate further about its new deployments and capabilities so those companies will consider it in new evaluations.
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Mark Smith – CEO & EVP Research