I have been following some interesting posts on the recent IBM acquisition of Coremetrics. The following three are from respected sources that all glow positively about the potential upside of the deal - EconsultancyEric PetersonStephane Hamel.

However, I am not so convinced that the deal will lead to great success for IBM, or is the start of a coming “revolution” for the web analytics industry… and here’s why.

Whilst the deal makes perfect sense – its a logical and smart with obvious synergies, remember that in 2006 IBM *sold* their commercial web analytics tool, Surfaid, to Coremetrics in the first place (though Coremetrics only used the WebSphere client base and not the technology).

Clearly IBM did not understand the significance of web metrics in 2006 and nothing makes me feel that they do now…

For me, the success of the web metrics industry today is due to the “simplification” that Google Analytics has brought to the table with its 2005 acquisition of Urchin. That has taken web analytics out of the realm of IT and into marketing departments – where it belongs!

The result of this simplification has been the dramatic growth in the number web analytics users – now measured in millions of accounts – rather than tens of thousands, as it was in 2005.

In my view, integrating web analytics with marketing is the future.

Integrating web analytics with IT (the SPSS/IBM route) is the past, and flawed.

There is a precedent for this… IBM is not a marketing company, just as NetIQ are not a marketing company – NetIQ were the previous owner’s of WebTrends. As a security and IT infrastructure management company, NetIQ acquired WebTrends in 2001 and took it from clear market leader to almost out of business in less than 4 years. In fact, their flawed approach was a large part of what has driven the success of alternative vendors – including Google Analytics.

I am all for the rigours of statistical analysis, though within reason. The vast majority of your website traffic is anonymous and random visits. These are impossible to predict due to accuracy limitations of web analytics. Yet, these provide the greatest opportunity for improvement.

Ultimately, I do not feel an IT company, such as IBM, are best placed to move the web analytics industry to the next level.

As always, I would be interested in your thoughts with a comment.