Google Analytics 'not enterprise ready'

Google Analytics tool is "not yet enterprise-ready," because it lacks formal support and can't provide analysis as deep as its competitors, analyst firm CMS Watch said.

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Google Analytics tool is "not yet enterprise-ready," because it lacks formal support and can't provide analysis as deep as its competitors, analyst firm CMS Watch said.

Google Analytics provides a striking user interface that is forcing other vendors to focus more on usability, but lacks several features required in many enterprise scenarios, said Phil Kemelor, lead analyst for the report, which evaluated 13 major web analytics products.

CMS Watch's criticisms - most of which were called inaccurate by a Google executive - include the following:

  • Google Analytics has no API to export or import data into or out of third-party products and data warehouses, limiting integration of web site data with other sources of financial and customer data.
  • Google Analytics lacks the ability to query against raw data, limiting deeper analysis into site visits.
  • Support comes only from Google consultants, who are unable to modify the Google Analytics system.
  • The tool has some history of performance problems and lacks automated report distribution.
On the plus side, CMS Watch noted that Google Analytics is free, simple to set up, integrates with the keyword-based advertising system known as Google AdWords, and holds the long-term possibility of integration with Google's enterprise Search Appliance.

In a separate report, CMS Watch also recently criticised Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, saying it falls short in web content management. The analyst firm said it maintains a vendor-neutral stance by refusing to take money from vendors.

Google Analytics, which became available about 18 months ago, is best suited for enterprises with a high reliance on AdWords campaigns, CMS Watch said. The product may also be good for small and midsize businesses that have never used web analytics before, or for large companies that want to use it as a secondary analytics program, Kemelor said. But it should not be the sole analytics tool for a large enterprise, he argues.

Because the product lacks an API for exporting data, Google Analytics customers cannot "integrate the web analytics data with another tool or a database," Kemelor said. "That's the shortcoming of the tool."

Brett Crosby, senior manager of Google Analytics, denied that Google Analytics data can't be integrated with other products and databases. "We have many ways of pulling data out of Google Analytics," he said. "You can pull it out when you're in the product, you can have it emailed to you on a daily basis."

CMS Watch also said Google Analytics lacks the ability to query against raw data, so queries can be made only against reports generated by the tool. In response, Crosby said "if you want access to raw data, everyone can still have access to their server log files."

A new version of Google Analytics announced this month is helping to bring web site analysis to a broader range of users, Crosby said. "What we're hearing is the new version really helps push the data out to people who weren't using [analytics before] and who wanted to," he said.

Crosby acknowledged that Google Analytics isn't the best product for all types of analyses. "If you have really niche needs, like maybe your entire web site is in Flash, there might be another tool out there that's more appropriate for that," he said. But he denied CMS Watch's claim that other vendors provide significantly more complex analysis.

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