tiny manySomeone highly salaried : "You know what our problem is? We have too many damn tools!"

Me: "Oh, hm…"

Someone highly salaried : "Thanks for agreeing with me, now please help us fix it!"

Me: "No I meant, oh hmmmmmmm."

Someone highly salaried : "What do you mean? You are not going to solve my problem of getting a single source of truth for all my web data?"

Me: "Multiplicity. That's the solution. Not "singlecity", not on the web, not in Web Analytics 2.0."

Someone highly salaried (and by now you) : "You are not making sense."

Ok let me explain. I am sure you are also confronted with the classic quest for the "single source of truth".

But before that let me back up.

My first eMetrics summit was June 2003 and as a young inexperienced person new in the field it was a great learning experience (eMetrics in Santa Barbara were the best!). But there were two concepts, one big and one small, that were key in developing my own thinking about web analytics.

The big concept was Multiplicity and it was presented by Guy Creese (then Research Director for Aberdeen Group). The concept was brutal in its simplicity: The web is different and the reason was the existences of multiple constituencies, tools and types of data sources.

Here is the slide from June 2003……

multiplicity challenge

The first one is perhaps slightly obvious, the second one less obvious but told me about the challenge ahead as I thought of dealing with my own Web Analytics journey. The last one was the most interesting and delightful.

The fact that to make optimal decisions on the web I was going to have to be comfortable with multiple sources of data, all valuable and all necessary to win.

The strategy, for me, was two fold: Go figure out what sources of data, web and non-web, were needed to make decisions. Go identify the best tools to collect and analyze those data sources.

It took the above slide to crush my own dream of having a single source of the truth that was God's answer to everything, because on the Web there is no such thing. For a person such as myself who came from the traditional Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence worlds that was a non-trivial mental model transformation.

It was totally worth it.

Let's fast forward to the present (an amazing four years later!).

I have already presented my mental model for Web Analytics 2.0. It requires that you think radically differently about your web analytics approach.

It also calls for you not to be distracted by, well, distractions about how your online presence is accessed (that will be important but won't distract from the mental model you need to have about how to understand performance of your web presence).

It also calls for you to not be distracted by the type of experience your online presence is. Static or flash or video or social or whatever.

Both of those are distractions that will impede your progress towards nirvana.

Regardless of how your site is accessed (mobile or via the Eniac) or what the experience consists of (static or dynamic or targeted), you need to solve for Web Analytics 2.0:

web analytics 2.0

Five important sources of data that give you a holistic picture about your website performance and empower you to make decisions that help your websites solve for you and your customers.

Now let me reel it back into the now, this post.

Notice that the slide above is Multiplicity personified. I don't know if this is how Guy intended it to be, but it is certainly how my vision has evolved from Guy's presentation at the wonderful Biltmore hotel in Santa Barbara.

Five different sources of data, that require you to have multiple tools to measure success.

Now do you see why a single source of truth is not possible?

Too many pieces of data needed from too many different tools, for a medium that is evolving and dynamic and amazing (the Web).

Sure I'll happily give you the problem, but I also have a solution.

Solving the Web Analytics Multiplicity Problem:

(Click on the image below to see a higher resolution version, it is easier on the eyes.)

multiplicity web analytics sm

Every solid web decision making program (call it Web Analytics or Web Metrics or Web Insights or Customer Intelligence or whatever) in a company will need to solve for the Five Pillars: ClickStream, Multiple Outcomes, Experimentation & Testing, Voice of Customer and Competitive Intelligence.

For each of those you'll need a unique and specialized tool.

ClickStream: Omniture, Google Analytics, NetInsight, WebTrends, IndexTools, ClickTracks, CoreMetrics, Gatineau etc (that list was longer just a couple weeks ago! :)).

Multiple Outcomes: Web Analytics tools Plus ones like iPerceptions, ForeSee, etc.

Experimentation & Testing: Google Website Optimizer, Offermatica, Optimost etc.

Voice of Customer: iPerceptions, Ethnio, ForeSee, perhaps even self service mechanisms.

Competitive Intelligence: Compete, HitWise, Technorati etc.

For optimal success you'll only need one tool from each of the above to cover the base for each of the five pillars. Multiplicity.

Data from each tool is not meant to be duplicative of the other areas. It is not meant to tie to the other areas. Each individually provides insights that taken together give you the data you need to succeed.

And don't feel overwhelmed:

1) Notice that in each row you have the option to have a free tool.

2) You can execute based on a priority (here is mine: Voice of Customer, Outcomes, ClickStream, Testing, Competitive Intelligence).

Two New, Interesting & Non-Obvious Tools

If you looked carefully you might have noticed two new tools at the bottom of the image above describing Multiplicity, here they are again…..

new foundational web analytics tools

When web analytics is mentioned Maxamine and Coradiant are not normally first in mind. It is my belief that for large companies, Fortune 1,000 especially, both these tool are almost mandatory. Neither measures what a traditional web analytics tool does, so no overlap, but each brings its unique strengths to the business of web data.


You should use Maxamine because it gives you critical data relating to: search engine optimization gaps, missing javascript tags, duplicative content, checking website functionality (yes broken links and "bad" forms), security and privacy compliance, black holes not crawled by your internal search engine and more.

Essentially everything you need to know, measure and report around the existence of your website itself. See how it is web data and "web analytics"?

There is one thing about Maxamine reports that is quite delightful:

maxamine reports

Not only do you get your scores, 21 and 84 above, for each metric reported (Page Weight and Page Proximity), but you also get a comparative score for the Fortune 100. This is delightful because you now can get your execs to take action. No one wants to look bad by comparison! :)

And I am just scratching the surface with what Maxamine can do.


You should use Coradiant because it gives you critical data, down to a individual user level, about the "matrix" that powers your website. The bits and bytes and pages and packets and more. Every single thing you can imagine going out from your web servers (anywhere) to your Customers. You can find problems on your website quickly and hold yourself and your IT teams to account.

More than that you can understand why, for example, your conversion rates are down. Is it because suddenly your cart and checkout pages were slow and not making it to your customers? Or because of 404 errors on your important pages?

You can not only do all this but you can also, literally, create a funnel of your important site experience and see if the "leakages" in that funnel are related to your website "suckiness". Imagine that funnel next to your web analytics funnel!

coradiant reports

There are two things about Coradiant that are quite delightful:

    1) You get a box, you plug in power and a network cable, you are in business. Idiot proof fast installation.

    2) I am a fan of the "AIM" reporting application (and indeed the mindset that it works on) from Coradiant because it means I have to think less and it tells me where to look (and it will tell me for the important set of things I care about, "what changed before and during the issue/problem"!!) . Now here is the important part: It does that without me telling it.

That last part is critical. Most web data applications that sit in that space tend to give you 100% unstructured data, and all of the data. You, tiny ant, are then immersed in a massive amount of data and asked to find your way around. Most of the time you don't even know what you are looking for, even if the answers to every question is right there. That is what makes Coradiant valuable, they tell you where to start looking because then you'll find your unique problem and solutions.

Coradiant often gets compared to Tealeaf but I believe that that is a imprecise comparison for a number of reasons. Tealeaf solves different problems and in a space by itself from a solution, applicability and benefit perspective.

[Taking a deep breath now!]

There you go. Multiplicity. What is it? Why it is important? How you can benefit from it? And as a special bonus two web data sources you might not have thought about, but sources every mature website probably desperately needs.

Ok now it's your turn.

Please share your perspectives, critique, additions, subtractions, bouquets and brickbats via comments. Thank you.

[Like this post? For more posts like this please click here, if it might be of interest please check out my book: Web Analytics: An Hour A Day.]

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