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« An Enlightened Federal CIO Meets Web Analytics | Main | Compare web analytics vendor compliance with the Web Analytics Association Analytics Definitions »

April 14, 2009

Comments

Alex Yoder

Phil,
Thanks very much for your extensive post and summary of our activities. I’m very proud of the team we have put together and of what we’ve accomplished in such a short period of time. In practical terms, the Executive Team has only been together since the end of December, so everything that we’ve accomplished in terms of strategy, communication and branding is the product of three short month’s worth of work—very impressive collaboration and focus from a new team and testimony to how consistent we are in our vision and commitment to its execution, as well as how rapidly we can continue to bring our strategy to fruition. Realistically, no organization with 7,000 customers re-architects the product and code base in one quarter, so you are 100% correct that there are still elements to deliver on; however, the API delivery, commitment to quality and promise of our most pressing focus, User Experience, are all very real, alive and were represented well at Engage.

Most importantly, though, is that the message of openness exists clearly throughout the organization on these very important initiatives. We are NOT an organization that makes 100 empty promises during the sales and customer retention cycle. We ARE an organization that is communicating in an open and honest way about what we will focus on and what we won’t, areas that we are strong and areas that need focus. The days of pretence about being everything to everybody are gone—no longer believable, or palatable to savvy and mature users of technology. I believe that you will find a significant appreciation in customer success and satisfaction since the beginning of my tenure. We are not finished and will never relax on this priority. A technology vendor WILL NOT succeed in being the answer to “all that ails you”. I would ask, then, that if you give us credit and credibility for anything, you recognize the courage that it takes to not be a “me too” company, or an organization that pretends to be more than we are. That courage will set the tone for our future success and is core to our approach to being “Open”.

Chris

As far as I can tell as a customer and user (a thorn-in-the-side user at that), it's the real deal.

Jon Parks

Phil,
Great summary of the activities at Engage 09. I attended the event last week and am a 7-year customer of webtrends. I found the new approach to be quite refreshing. I've been a little disappointed in webtrends the past couple of years, but there is something definitely different about webtrends now and after having attended engage 09, it is clear that the difference is the company leadership. I was quite impressed with the demo of the WebTrends Social Measurement tool from Radian 6 and I talked with many at the conference that were as well. But the thing that impressed me the most was the willingness of the client services team to engage with users in discussions and that they showed a genuine interest in trying to resolve customer issues-- that's something that was lacking prior to the new leadership team. In all, I'm very pleased and excited about the new direction and look forward to continuing my use of WebTrends!

Chris

Phil,

Thanks for emailing me and asking me to provide some detail. As I entered my previous comment, I was thinking I'd have to come back and explain more.

A few examples, in no particular order:
• Their Knowledge Base has recently moved to outside the customer login. It's now open to anybody. Tech Services KB articles have been moving into the customer KB.
• Their own tech support etc people are now allowed to post openly on the user forum (this used to be forbidden). The word "bug" is allowed to be uttered in writing, too.
• They've started a Developer Forum (which you didn't mention in your post) for their own developers and product managers, and it’s open to customers. I'm seeing discussions of bugs as well as ideas. It has just started up, but I'm told that it is the developer forum, not just a mouthpiece.
• The Engage conference was dense with non-sales people, for a change.
• The Customer Advisory Board meeting (8 hours of it plus dinner) was far more open than in recent years (real issues, information, arguments, tradeoff decisions, and the absence of "presentations"), and it was attended not only by their content experts but also by high-up WebTrends decisionmakers (who in the last few years had been absent or simply there to schmooze). In fact, they expanded the "Advisory Board" concept to two groups this year, a Customer one and an "Industry" one.
• They've revamped their development to be iterative instead of all-at-once. They do seem to be actually changing it as they go based on feedback loops. And the product development cycle, including for the long-neglected analytics product, is visibly moving again.
• Their user-interface efforts have put all sorts of internal WT people into the shoes of users, not just those WT employees with interface-related jobs. I once worked at a company where everybody top to bottom had to have customer contact, and it’s a good thing.
• Decision makers (including execs) and even engineers are phoning users and former users - not to present or sell, but to ask for feedback and listen. I've been on the receiving end and so have other customers and ex-customers I stay in contact with.
• Long-gone employees who quit have been returning - people I know to be good, valuable people. Quite a few of them.
• Employees are really pleased. I've heard this often from the tech support people I talk to --- I've been hearing it for six months now. There’s real delight at the changes. This is not just one or two support people saying this, it's many.
• In the past three months I've also been talking to other kinds of employees, like product managers, service managers, developers. I've been skeptical. They have been "believers." I've ended up convinced. The typical response from WT people, which I've heard over the last half year too many times to be faked, has been "This is the real deal; it's exciting to be working here."

As Alex Yoder says, they have a long way to go. It's not all going to work out and they are doubtless making some not-so-good decisions along the way. I guarantee I'll still have complaints about them two years from now. But personally, I've only worked at one place (my current job, yay) where the energy is as good and the talent as thick as what I'm seeing over there now.

Is that enough additional detail? Thanks for nudging me.

Phil Kemelor

Alex - Thanks for feedback. Much appreciated...again I think the spirit of openness you and your team are fostering is terrific...certainly something I'd like to see other vendors emulate.

Jon and Chris - Thanks for putting your thoughts down here. Really helps to get your perspective as customers. I appreciate you mentioning the open Knowledgebase and developer network, as these are tangible changes that folks can benefit from now.

Phil

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