Timeline: In my session on the Information Workplace at Forrester's IT EMEA forum in Lisbon last Thursday, I suggested that "Humans have lost the war against information overload. Only analytics can save us now." (Pedantic pop quiz: What obscure German philosopher is the Ur-source for that formulation?) One of the attendees tweeted this quip, and it enjoyed a few minutes of fame on Twitter. Five days later, IBM announced its intention to buy analytics vendor Coremetrics. Is this mere coincidence?
Forrester's web analytics expert Joe Stanhope has smartly dissected the acquisition in his blog. But what does it mean for Information and Knowledge Management professionals? I think it's another indication that IBM isn't just blowing on its marketing vuvuzelas when they talk about helping clients create and manage "exceptional web experiences." (Borrowing a line from Joe, I note that: The deal is subject to standard regulatory approvals in the US and Europe prior to closing.)
A bit of initial skepticism would be understandable when sitting "IBM" and "exceptional web experience" together on the same conceptual sofa. IBM's Lotus Web Content Management product is solid and proven, but it didn't stand out in our last WCM Wave™, which focused on consumer-facing "persuasive content" initiatives. IBM's strategy has been to emphasize how WebSphere Portal leverages and extends the WCM solution to enable next-generation user experiences.
Now along comes Coremetrics to provide real-time insights into customer and prospect interactions. The press release says that "Organizations are increasingly looking for ways to optimize their marketing processes and gain deeper insights into client demands in order to drive brand loyalty by executing more personalized customer interactions." What that means is that companies are beginning to realize that practically every action a consumer takes on a web site (or even before reaching it) is a "communication" about the goals they want to accomplish, the preferences they have, the options they wish to avoid, and the paths that will most effectively get them to "conversion." Web analytics provides the tools to "listen" to these signals and have the site "respond" appropriately.
I predict that IBM will integrate these listening/responding (aka "measurement") capabilities into WebSphere Portal and perhaps seperately Lotus Web Content Management. Both end users and competing vendors should look at this as a declaration of intent. What do you think?