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SALT LAKE CITY -- Think analytics and you probably think numbers. But that's just a starting point.

The bottom line in analytics isn't numbers: it's the actionable insight that data provides.

"We've totally changed to a data-driven business," said Ron Bertoncini, senior digital analytics manager for Telus (pictured here, r, with colleague Duc Nguyen).

Telus is a Vancouver, British Columbia-based telecommunications company. With more than 40,000 employees, it's the country's second biggest firm in its space.

'Pivotal' Technology

Bertoncini was one of the 6,000 or so attendees at the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit at the Salt Palace Convention Center here this week. His team uses Adobe Analytics.

The platform was on display at the conference, where Adobe officials touted innovations in the Omniture platform that Adobe Systems acquired. It includes web and mobile analytics, multi-site grouping, visitor segmentation, action alerts, data sources, cross-category analysis, video measurement and reporting and web 2.0 optimization.

One consultant called it one of the "most powerful" analytics platforms on the market. But there was a caveat. That power comes with complexity.

Bertoncini and Nguyen, a senior digital analytics consultant, said the platform is essential for their marketing campaigns.

"It's pivotal for our organization and other teams within Telus," Nguyen told CMSWire.

"When we'd send out email campaigns, we'd have no idea if they were working or not working at all. Our service provider would tell us the number of clicks. That's it. We've implemented integrations into SiteCatalyst (former branding for Adobe Analytics) to follow campaigns now to find out what's working and what's not. It's better than hoping for the best. We're now thinking of analytics at the beginning." 

The Telus teams also use technologies such as Ensighten (tag management) and ClickTale (link analytics).

Bertoncini said the Ensighten platform helps eliminate the need to engage a developer because it uses a "data layer" -- a behind-the-scenes data and structure that drives web, mobile and other interactions.

"We don't need a developer to code a page," Bertoncini said.

Homegrown CMS

This Telus team doesn't use Adobe Experience Manager. It uses a homegrown Web Content Management System (Web CMS). Though Adobe officials tout the "all-in-one" experience of the Adobe Marketing Cloud, some find success with standalone solutions.

"We've experienced using a big brand name CMS," Bertoncini said, "and ultimately it never really accomplished what the vendor said it would do. It was slow, time-consuming and hard to use. The team decided to build a custom CMS, which is something that works for our developers to deploy content quickly."

When you buy an off-the-shelf Web CMS, "you have to spend a lot of time on implementation just to make it work."

Connecting Dots

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David Clunes, president and CEO of the Princeton, N.J.-based Encima Group, has worked as a consultant with companies using Adobe Analytics. 

Connecting the dots of that technology with existing systems is his obvious push and selling point. That's what a consultant does.

Nonetheless, Clunes is out there in the trenches and sees a "big disconnect between data and process issues behind the scenes."

"Managing activities of all those partners and coordinating integration between all these tools and technologies can be a big mess," Clunes said. "Often that's not visible to the end client. And sometimes no one's managing the entire process, so that can be a problem."

The claim to fame for Adobe's analytics platform, he said, is "it's the most powerful tool in the space."

"It's a comprehensive tool," he said. "But it can put you in position to do digital marketing in a powerful way with the right data to make the right decisions."

Ali Alkhafaji, a Chicago-based senior director of technology and architecture for Paris-based Valtech, compared the tool to Webtrends, which he described as a close competitor to Adobe in analytics.

"On the paid market it comes down to Webtrends and Adobe," he told CMSWire.

Until four years ago, Webtrends didn't give you instant feedback in analytics. Webtrends uses tags, and SiteCatalyst JavaScript. But that's irrelevant to me. SiteCatalyst has a leg up because it was acquired by Adobe so a large corporation watches over it."

Adobe Innovations

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Adobe didn't waste the opportunity to make updates to its analytics platform this week in its Contribution Analysis, Mobile App Analytics,Customer Attributesnew metrics capabilities and FreeForm analysis.

Jeff Allen, Adobe's director of product marketing for Adobe Analytics, knows full well there's a free monster in the market -- Google Analytics. He said analysts have to convince executives of the need to invest into a platform like Adobe's.

What Google can't match, he said, is the power of the Adobe Marketing Cloud and its analytics integration.

"It flows right into integrations," he told CMSWire. "That sort of connective tissue with Adobe Analytics, being citizens of the marketing cloud, and its tie-in from insight to action is critical."

Adobe's also making investments in its analytics platform to make it valuable from the top to bottom of organizations.

"If you look at any of our competitors' websites you see this idea of self service insights and an executive dashboard and executive drill down tools. Everyone is telling a story like that," Allen said. "For us exposing a simple interface to an executive is not as interesting if that interface doesn’t guide them down a path."