A startup called Colabo has developed a set of analytics tools that it says marketers can use to research trends, brand awareness and other subjects without heavy involvement from IT departments.
Colabo's tools incorporate the familiar dashboard concept as a canvas, onto which users can add information about their chosen topic from a variety of data sources, such as social sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, as well as enterprise applications, application store metrics and Web analytics.
For example, a marketer that wishes to track the success of a new product could set up a dashboard that shows them what customers are saying about the product on Twitter and Facebook, as well as a feed from a back-end system that shows them how many orders are being placed for it.
Data streams can be added from any source that can be viewed through a browser, according to Colabo. The system refreshes the data at regular intervals, according to the user's preferences.
Users can monitor the various data streams either in their natural form, or flip the view into an analytics mode, which converts the activity of each stream into various types of charts and graphs. The dashboards can be shared with other users and viewed on mobile devices like the iPad.
Colabo essentially automates activities that marketers are already doing in a much more cumbersome manner, said CEO Yoav Dembak. "What we really find ourselves replacing is folks cutting and pasting from a browser into Excel."
Over time, Colabo plans to target other user types, with initial ones likely being salespeople and support personnel, Dembak said.
The software is available in three editions, including a professional edition aimed at individual users for US$90 per month; a corporate version for up to 10 users for $500 per month; and an enterprise edition that costs $3,000 per month and provides for on-premises deployment.
Early customers include VMware, CDW and Virtustream, according to Colabo, which is based in San Carlos, California.
While the use of advanced analytics within marketing organizations has "a way to go," there's an opportunity for applications that can pull in a wide variety of data sources and make the integration of them easier, said Trip Kucera, an analyst with Aberdeen Group.
Some 98 percent of companies polled in a recent study by Aberdeen said they planned to grow their use of data analytics for marketing purposes.
The highest-performing companies tend to have assembled the largest and most varied amount of data sources, spanning from systems of record to unstructured text based on call center conversations, Kucera said.
But even if a tool makes it easier to integrate data sources, marketing departments still need a good working relationship with IT staff, especially given the greater sensitivities and data-governance issues involved with information stored in back-end systems, he said.
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com