Since Alex Yoder took over the reins as CEO at WebTrends in August, the company has been on an active campaign to make itself over…on both the image and product development fronts. Preaching a message of “openness” this has been manifest in hiring a new PR firm focused on consistent messaging and a senior management team that shows an interest in accessibility…both noticeable changes from the pre-Yoder days

Things moved a bit more slowly on the product development front. While the openness vision has been articulated at industry conferences, such as eMetrics, it wasn’t exactly clear what this meant...other than that the Marketing Warehouse was the key to data access. 

So, it was with great anticipation to see what the company was going to announce at Engage, its customer conference last week. Now that the smoke has cleared, let’s see what happened:

A Big Pre-Announcement

A New WebTrends Open Exchange – Yes, Open Exchange has been around since September 2007, but primarily as a partnership program. The revamped Open Exchange will provide API access that builds on its Tag Builder functionality.

At first impression this is all a good thing: a fully published API should help extend data export to third party solutions; provide an alternative to the ODBC drive for exporting data into Excel and enable better access to both Analytics and Marketing Warehouse data.

These last two points are significant because for years WebTrends has insisted that there are no issues with the ODBC driver even though many in the marketplace have expressed unhappiness with the product. On the second point, there seems to have been an overemphasis on developing additional reporting and querying capabilities for Marketing Warehouse at the expense of the core Analytics product.  

Is there a catch? Well, the critical component of the web services is the Data Collection API, and this is available in beta only right now...general release for Analytics slated for June and for Marketing Warehouse in Q4 2009.

Any beta users out there? I’d definitely like to hear about your experiences after you’ve used the APIs to see what you think.

Quick take: Big build up and pay off to be determined.

An Interesting Partnership

A Co-Branded Radian 6 Offering – Radian 6 is one of the new breed of analytics tools that monitors social media impact. WebTrends announced WebTrends Social Measurement Powered by Radian 6. The promise is that through Open Exchange, you’ll be able to integrate Radian 6 data with WebTrends Analytics.

However, you’ll need to wait on this...probably at least another quarter for any integration. In the meantime, you can purchase the Social Measurement solution through WebTrends and for now; see basically the same reports as you would if you purchase Radian 6 directly.

Quick take: Big build up and pay off to be determined.

A Packaged Approach

A Solution-Oriented Vertical Offering – Throughout its history, WebTrends has lacked cohesiveness to its product and service offerings. Yes, it could do a lot, but it’s been difficult to figure out what part of the solution would fit your needs.

The company is addressing this with eight vertical focused solutions. Nothing like the Coremetrics reporting or the Omniture playbook approaches, these service/solution offerings are presented as complete offerings that encompass strategic, technical and tactical components.

Of course it will be curious how these complex engagements are estimated, planned, delivered and managed.

Quick take: Big build up and pay off to be determined.

So, You Tell Me...

As I mentioned, WebTrends is doing a lot these days to convey a new image. Management is easy to talk to and very forthcoming with information.

They are doing a great job at reaching out to analysts, and you can sense a real different than years past. But I wonder what you’ve your demos with WebTrends, your experiences with tech support? Do you think the company has changed for the better?

Is this management enthusiasm and sense of purpose evident in your day-to-day dealings with the company? Or is it pretty much the same old, same old?

The next few quarters should be telling as to whether Engage will be seen as the public turning point for the company, or nothing more than a pep rally for the company faithful.