Category Archives: Web Analytics

The Forrester Wave report on Enterprise Listening

I got a few emails from vendors I have worked with or are friendly with about the new Forrester Wave on Enterprise Listening (the new term for “Social Listening”) and figured it’s a good time to weigh in on it.

Also note that a few vendors in the this report are providing free copies of what is ordinarily a paid report only for Forrester subscribers; here’s a link from Synthesio, the leader in this report who is providing a free copy of the full report once you fill out some registration information with them.

Source:  The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Listening Platforms, Q1 2014 report

Forrester, based on what I read, asks it’s customers which social listening platforms they use, picks the most popular platforms in use for Enterprise Listening that have sales of over 10 million dollars a year and a number of customers from different industry verticals and chooses the top 10-12 companies/platforms to feature in a report like this one.

  • The purpose of this particular report is really to tell Forrester customers which Enterprise Listening platforms its membership should consider; the list of platforms they looked at are among those used by Forrester subscribers, already.
  • There is an online Excel tool for Forrester clients that customise the Forrester Wave for this report based on the circumstances for that company - and input into that tool might end up changing who comes up on top of the Wave.  In other words, this Wave (above) represents the outcome of research Forrester conducted for no particular company and assumes that most Forrester customers now want a solution that integrates several use cases.    That assumption is probably correct, but that might not be your situation, and if it’s not, the Forrester Wave may not be accurate guide for you.
  • If you are not a Forrester Customer you can’t use their customized tool and you will have to accept the judgements of their report on its merits, or not.

With those considerations in mind here is what strikes me:

  • MarketWired SysomosMarketWired appears to have given up on making  Sysomos  an Enterprise platform, I think it’s short-sighted on their part, but realistic, in that what it would take to bring Sysomos into competition with the other platforms is more than Market Wired wants to invest.  Let’s fact it – even if MarketWired wanted to catch up now, it’s probably too late.  Most PR based companies simply have no conception of what it takes to develop a full enterprise platform – till now it’s not been in their DNA.  It might be that selling Sysomos to MarketWired was the eventual kiss of death for a platform that otherwise might, in other hands, have gotten a lot more attention.
    • There probably isn’t that much of a future in catering to a  PR/agency market anyway – though it may be MarketWired can go on like this for a while – after all, COBOL, FORTRAN and even BASIC is still used as a programming languages – and data centers still have  of mainframes going back to the 1970’s and 1980’s.    In fact, many agencies are moving towards Big Data and Social Media Command Centers and that has driven a lot of change and mergers in the last year.
      • Companies (friends) like Brandwatch have developed Command Centers because they know that is what many customers now want.  Going after mom and pop PR agencies is just short sighted and will lead to lowering sales and eventually a disappointing end.  Too bad, because I liked Sysomos when I was using it – I could get stuff done with it quickly.  Oh well.
  • Attensity got a warning in the Wave report, Forrester found a high percentage of customers were switching to other vendors after their contracts ended.    Attensity was busy trying to up sell customers to solutions that didn’t entirely address their needs, or did so in a way that limited their growth opportunities.  The various tools Attensity provided also were not flexible enough.

I never really worked with the tool set that is Attensity so I can’t say what their platforms are or aren’t capable of – but my sense is that if you build a lot of capabilities around a certain type of high-end client – you’ll probably find that you can not easily redeploy the same work to other situations as easily as one might think.

From Listening to Analytics from Keith Paul (note – I was a speaker at #SMAS12 as well)


Penalties for having been too early in the market and rewards for being a newcomer.

  • Forrester thinks that Sprinklr, being only 5 years old, created a platform that is more flexible than the others in the this study.
  • Visible Technologies rebounded to more or less, the same position they had 5 or 6 years ago, after their various acquisitions of other platforms.
  • Salesforce Radian6, I suppose, moved up – but the Forrester report brings up a good point – that companies that acquire other companies need to spend time integrating the platforms – Salesforce is so busy trying to make the platforms they bought work together (as I predicted) they simply aren’t able to lead or innovate much because they have too much on their hands trying to sell the consolidated Clouds they have built – the Clouds that aren’t particularly suited for anyone but really big Whales, just like Salesforce, themselves.
    • Essentially, Forrester said to forget Radian6 unless you were already a Salesforce customer and the only expansion options Radian6 has, are ones that connect into other aspects of Salesforce – and if you’re not involved with the Salesforce ecosystem, you won’t want Radian6.

Hidden Gems

  • NetBase probably has the most potential to improve their game – they already have the best text analytics and sentiment platform for general use – but they don’t have the best dashboard by far, and they haven’t really expanded past Market Research according to Forrester – but they could.    I have done some work with NetBase that it would be impossible to do with the other platforms discussed here.
    • I noticed a lot of people left NetBase last fall, when I last worked with them and did a Webinar (see below), and I wondered about the story behind that.  Still, I have access to the platform and really enjoy the research I can do with it – so if anyone has a chance to improve a lot in the next Wave, I will give it NetBase to move up a bit in the 2016 Wave.

  • Crimson Hexagon is in the Forrester Report for the first time – and it may be that trying to be good at one thing, a certain type of market research, works better than trying to be the platform that can adapt to everything, which Crimson Hexagon can’t do, and probably won’t do.

I haven’t worked with Crimson Hexagon for a few years but my impression (and I don’t think the platform has fundamentally changed, though several enhancements have been added) is that it’s an analyst tool mainly – and the results are based on, almost entirely, on how well the analyst sets up the tool, almost more than any other platform in this list.

  • Set the tool up badly – the output will be mostly garbage – set it up well – the output could be gold nuggetsit all depends on who sets up the monitors and how well they are trained.   It almost doesn’t matter what data you feed into Crimson Hexagon, and in fact, you’d probably get a better result from semi – structured data than the Social Data it’s better known for.  Crimson Hexagon, in spite of whatever they may tell you – it the platform that, the most needs the right person to set it up or else, forget it.  You can’t just jump into that platform, throw in a bunch of terms, get a pretty pie chart, and call it a day.

Synthesio is the leader in the Forrester Wave this time – and it’s well deserved in my opinion – they have really worked hard and merging form and function.  I’ve been friendly with Synthesio and even did a Book Signing in London two years ago (was it really that long ago?) at the Hospital Club.

Perhaps it’s time to drop by Synthesio’s offices in New York City again, I was over to meet Loic M. and continue to be friendly with various people at this vendor – who probably really get what Brands want better than anyone. It shows.     Last year they also did an interview with me and also included one of my self portraits – which I also greatly enjoyed.

It was pointed out in the Forrester Wave that Synthesio takes extra time to clean the data, they take the time to find out what the Brand really wants and they come up with solutions that are innovative when needed.

Forrester suggests that innovation and wide level of use cases is more important now than it was 2 years ago

  • Forrester’s current grading criteria seems to skew towards innovative solutions that platforms would suggest for their customers – the willingness to “stretch” to the edges of what customers need (once we figure what it actually is that they need).
    • Forrester penalizes Attensity and Sysomos for not “stretching” – for either purely “up selling” (Attensity) or focusing on a narrow use case (Sysomos).

To be fair, if you purpose isn’t “Enterprise” Listening, than maybe the whole Forrester Wave could be ignored, and you just go with the tools or platform that gives you the best approximation of what you think you want.  But when you add “Enterprise” in the mix, half the platforms in the Wave are demoted, because they simply were not designed to be Enterprise tools, including Crimson Hexagon and even NetBase.

And funny as it seems, Radian6 was considered an Enterprise tool, but actually performs much worse in many respects than those who platforms who were not designed to be Enterprise – so I suspect the word “Enterprise” is a red herring.

Design – not Enterprise – that’s what is really important

In fact, it’s not Enterprise readiness that ought to be the thing your company should be concerned about – but rather good front end and back-end design, good performance and clean data.  Most Enterprises are “silos” anyway, so the idea of an “Enterprise” ready platform is a misnomer – what you need is a platform that works well for the very things you wanted it to do.

  • The fact that none of these platforms came anywhere near what they promised to do a few years ago was common knowledge to most people working in this space.
  • The Forrester Wave 2014 Q1 really celebrates the fact that some of the platforms are beginning to deliver on the marketing hype they were selling all along.
  • The platforms that did the best in the Wave are those that have best mixed “human” and “machine” learning, and leveraged both.

Sprinklr does well – and comes up second in the pack – turns out to be the “swiss army knife” of Social Enterprise Listening.

  • I suspect one of the reasons Sprinkr is knocking it out of the park is they are willing to customize their platform for clients – it’s the kind of thing that Salesforce, Attensity and most of the rest are simply unwilling or unable to do.
  • I know for a fact, aside from the great business skills at Sprinklr, they have been known to add custom features to clients quickly and their development team can quickly come up with meaningful adaptations to the platform that affect the bottom line – I bet that is why they are growing so quickly.
  • I personally, having used the Sprinklr platform on occasion, but not lately (though I probably still have access) found it hard to navigate between the parts – that training really is important here.  But on the other hand, as I point out above, Design wins the day.   As Sprinklr can quickly adapt their platform to clients particular needs at an attractive price point – they win over most of the others that can’t or simply will not do such a thing.  Perhaps, as Forrester claims, it’s due to Sprinklr late entrance into the game – or maybe it is just better software design – I don’t know.

Team BrandWatch continues to innovate

  • BrandWatch has massively expanded in the last 3 years (since my book came out – with a great interview with Giles Palmer, the CEO).

    • I noted last year that the new BrandWatch platform was vastly improved in functionality – it also added Brand monitoring of channels – moving into SocialBakers territory.
    • They opened offices in several new cities including San Francisco and Austin Texas.
    • Perhaps, following my suggestion, they entered the “command center” market and also retooled for “Big Data” with their Vizia platform (see presentation above).
    • BrandWatch partnered with HootSuite to provide Social Media Listening on top of Social Media Marketing capabilities HootSuite already had.
    • Lately they even picked up some people from Topsy who left after Apple acquired the platform in December.
    • They are constantly trying to improve and make their platform better.

BrandWatch may end up next to Synthesio in the next Wave – and perhaps we ought to be focused now on what the future will look like two years from now.

Other findings

  • Converseon continued to stay in the game, but lost its part of its leadership position from two years ago in the Wave – probably due to the fact that the solution has to be customized for each client and, as I understand it, can’t do much or anything as purely self-serve – something that Enterprises also seem to want these days.
  • Visible Technologies rebounded because they provided a mix of self-serve and high-end consulting solutions that worked in large industries AND niche industries.
  • Tracx is a platform I haven’t worked with – but I noted that it had an interface with Google Universal Analytics, which most of the platforms don’t have in this Wave.  Interestingly, Sprinklr does interface with Google Analytics, at least partially, but Forrester didn’t seem to mention it.

Where all the platforms need to go for the next Forrester Wave.

  • Mobile is the new frontier and new capstone – for the next Forrester Wave, the platform that best captures Mobile technologies will ride the crest of the Wave.
    • Geo-fensing capabilities that are already built into Geofeedia need to be integrated to some extent into the platforms that will lead the next Wave.

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

Source: Geofeedia recording of Rutgers University New Brunswick

I have been working with Geofeedia quite a bit – they would certainly need to make a bunch of changes to be in the next Forrester Wave, but they are doing something the other listening platforms aren’t – they’re focusing on mobile in a way that is not “keyword based”.

  • Even Crimson Hexagon can’t claim that – nor can NetBase – in fact, all the platforms in the current Wave are stuck in the keyword and boolean query paradigm – and have not been able to escape it.
  • Geofeedia, with its focus on actual geolocation capabilities and eventually, I suspect, iBeacon is positioned to grow well in the areas that are really needed for the future – those that focus on mobile devices.

Therefore, I urge the current Forrester Wave platforms to look at what Geofeedia is doing and start to think about ways to integrate with Geofensing and iBeacon/Bluetooth technologies.

  • Google Universal Analytics integration is missing from almost all of the platforms, but will be a factor in the next Wave as well – and all of the players should now be thinking of how to best integrate with Google Analytics, and Universal Analytics in particular.  Some thought needs to be put into making sure the integration is a useful one – and it’s something I’d love to work on with any of the vendors who seek me out for this.

Web Journal

  • Happy to say my Social Media for the Arts class at Rutgers University has north of 180 students registered in it for the Spring semester – and for the first time, there are more students in the Sciences that are registered, than the Arts.  We’re getting a TA as well.
  • My Baruch Web Intelligence classes are launching again this week (Monday).
  • I will be teaching a class on Social Media Analytics for Fashion in April at FIT (FITNYC).

A lot of other stuff, not all that I can talk about right now.  More, later.

2014 and Analytics – Web Journal – January 13, 2014

First, there is a new post in the Convergence Analytics section of ClickZ called Convergence and Info-Literacy in 2014, have a look when you get a chance.

This is a short post – finally have a few minutes to relax (but just a few- ha!)

Analytics Training

  • Second, I have been non stop since Christmas, updating my Social Media for the Arts course at Rutgers University – logging over 80 hours of time in the last two weeks – but now, I’m done!  The nature of this updating is so intensive that I find myself unable to write much outside of it while I’m doing it.

And that’s not the end of it – stepping back and trying to look at what is ahead, this year does indeed look as if data and analytics capabilities are converging and I’m seeing it in not only the industry, but in my students as well.

2014 so far…

  • I got a Pebble for Christmas  – likely to play with it a bit more .


I imagine I’ll have a few posts out shortly – now that I can finally clear my head – ha!

My 2014 Predictions – Marshall Sponder, WebMetricsGuru INC.



2014 Predictions

After a presentation at the Brands Only conference last week in Orlando, FL,  I begun to think about the savings and production gains shifts caused by newer technologies and visualized a “gap” between the easy understanding of data and the efforts to get to that.   In the past, that gap often made it very hard to get meaningful realizations from the data, but I predict in this new year of 2014, that gap will narrow, quite significantly, particularly, but not limited to, the areas around Social Data.
It makes sense that the “gap”, as I call it, is the main problem in Analytics, today.  Many of my friends work in Analytics roles where it’s basically a 14 hour day – 6 to 7 days a week (at time).  Data is one aspect of the puzzle, but the other is “how much work” is it going to take to make the data useful?
Also, how many people are there that are involved in using the data?
Basically, the more of a “gap” there is between easy applying of knowledge and the raw data, the more work intensive your role will be, your work will be.  In many industries and roles – the “gap” wasn’t well understood, it wasn’t clear that it isn’t just what you bring to the table, it’s what is on the table to begin with and who is sitting with you at that table.
Unless the gap was small the work you have will always be much more than you thought it would be – I usually come up with an estimate of time and then add a “0” after it – the modified time estimate is usually much closer to the real-time it takes to “close the gap”. In 2014, the gap between Social Data and Return on Investment gets a bit smaller – and that is what we’ll mainly remember about the year (along with any memorable events that happen).
I thought that I would collect a lot of the ideas that impressed me this year and put my own spin on them.  My predictions aren’t as comprehensive as I would like them to be – I don’t yet run an Analyst Firm where I can run my ideas in roundtable format – it’s something I’d like to do more and be part of more next year.
On the rate of change in 2014
Robert Stevenson asserts, “The doubling speed of knowledge is now between one and two years.” This implies that when this year’s incoming college freshmen graduate, knowledge will have quadrupled. ( see –  We know that  Mobile Analytics and Marketing Automation are the hottest marketing skills in 2014 and I’m seeing a number of courses spring up in various universities to meet the growing need of business on one hand, a students that need jobs on the other.  ( see for more information).
Privacy continues to grow as a polarizing issue in 2014
One of the casualties of our rapid increase of both knowledge and data is our privacy.  In 2014 the telling “white lies” will become a bit harder than it already is because there is more data and it is becoming easier to uncover – the biggest threat from the internet of things isn’t Big Brother, it’s the death of the social lie (see to get more details on online privacy and the death of the white lie).
Sure,  you’re running late because you were watching the last few minutes of Scandal but you tell your husband there was traffic. Or you tell your kids that your husband ate the last bit of ice cream and the entire box of Oreos, when it was you. Maybe you tell your husband that you’re at home, when in reality you’re out doing holiday shopping.
As we connect more devices and add sensors to more places these lies will become harder to preserve. The challenges will be threefold:  collecting data in more places like the cabinets in our homes; the data collection is passive as opposed to active sharing; and we don’t yet have clear rules about what is allowed with this data and what isn’t.
Wearable Technology/Computing will begin to roll out and mark changes in public behavior and a rise in Personalized Intelligence Devices by the end of 2014:
Wearable technology will be big in 2014.   When the $1500 wearable computer arrives the world will fundamentally change for better or worse. (  The next set of devices released on to the market  with have more powerful microchips  that begin to create personalized intelligence within your devices, in 2014. In fact, Intel’s Atom processor E3800 and the Quark SoC X1000 are the next set of low-power, small-core chips that will be built into devices and sensors that don’t require Intel’s traditionally beefy chip horsepower, such as thermostats and lighting fixtures, or devices used in industrial settings such as transportation or energy sectors ( (
In 2014 we’ll see new examples of merging of people with machines. Start with the world premiere of Toyota’s FV2 concept, which eschews a steering wheel—how 20th century—in favor of a vehicle system that responds to how the driver shifts his or her body. ( In addition, Google Project Glass (I want to own the next edition in 2014) is going to both invigorate and change what is now still called SEO. Local search is huge and wherever you go, Google Glass populates a list of suggestions based on things that are nearby.
Google Glass is an entirely new screen that can’t be compared with today’s mobile, tablet and desktop screens.( The new set of devices that come on the market in 2014 will provide the context of information supplied by the roadway infrastructure, such as approaching intersections, traffic, and accidents.  What we have seen so far in various apps and early devices is just a taste of what is to come.
Apple’s iBeacon technology takes over retail –  whilst most of the coverage of iBeacon so far has failed to recognize a very important reality of this system: every iOS device since the iPhone 4S and iPad 3rd gen is already capable of being either an iBeacon receiver or transmitter, as long as it’s properly configured -and any Apple iPhone 4S and later, or most iPads with Bluetooth Low Energy and the latest major version of iOS can run iBeacon. ( – during the holiday season of 2013 we have already been seeing several tests of iBeacon rolling out – within 18 months the retail shopping experience will transform to one objects and displays speak to us with personal information and potential buying choices as we walk past them.
The Media Disruption continues to expand and fan out in 2014:
Large disruption in media delivery continues to accelerate in 2014 with cable companies and networks  losing market share to Netflix, Chromecast, etc.  Disruptors like Aereo have emerged that lets you watch live television broadcasts via the Internet for $8 a month. Broadcasters like CBS and Fox are going to become increasingly concerned about the rise of Aereo. Meanwhile, Aereo has expanded its service to more cities nationwide  and it’s available now in Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, New York, Dallas, Houston, Denver, Miami, Salt Lake City, with plans to soon be in about 20 cities. Aereo works by letting you stream live network TV (ABC, NBC, PBS, Fox, etc.) to your computer, tablet, or smartphone. You can also use it to record shows in a virtual DVR and watch them later.(see more at
Cable companies continue to hold a monopoly on the cable Internet market through coaxial cables. But that monopoly is breaking down, because cable providers are bleeding subscribers. Since 2007, cable-cutting households  increased 150 percent. The problem becomes even bigger when you think about what’s to come: more people using more devices in more places. (see to learn more about Cable companies plights).
Artificial Marketing Intelligence:
Artificial Intelligence continues to advance and I predict  Google will release social media robots to update your social media channels for you (once it learns enough about you).  The search giant filed patent plans in 2011 for software that slowly learns how you react on social networks, creates responses for you, and analyzes continuing interaction and flags messages that demand your attention.( In the application, Google describes a way to collect disparate messages from other applications — everything from social networks to email to SMS — and suggest an automatic answer. The idea is to help users make sure they don’t miss a message, and to save them time in responding to others’ “I got a new job” or “I’m having a baby” status updates. (


2014 is the year of the Backlash:
Some say 2014 will mark a backlash in some of the excesses of the last several year.  The clock could be ticking for businesses like Airbnb, Wimdu, 9Flats and HouseTrip as new regulations gradually being introduced in some cities around the world begin to threaten their core business – but the problem is bigger than you would think. (
3D Printing:
3D Printing continues to extend to the mainstream – making big inroads in market awareness and penetration in 2014.  Consider that even the UPS is getting into the 3D Printer business.  The franchise retail division of UPS recently announced that it is offering 3D printing capabilities at some of its locations. The idea is being tested first in the San Diego area. The company expects to expand the service elsewhere soon, in 2014. (
Everything from guns to glasses can be printed up – with glasses, since people’s faces are incredibly diverse, a small change in frames — sometimes, just one millimeter — can lead to a drastically better fit. But mass-produced, store-bought frames don’t offer that customizable flexibility.
A company called Protos Eyewear allows Customers to order frame templates, which are then adjusted to fit individual facial features, or completely customize a design from scratch.  Interested backers send in two pictures of their faces, and Protos’ algorithm alters the frames’ design before sending the information to the 3D printer. the algorithm can rapidly make changes to the 3D models, allowing for more flexibility and less production time. (
In Art, 3D printing is rapidly undermining the concept of the art object itself and next year some famous works of art will be replicated before our eyes.
Take this example – A new 3D printing technique in Europe is threatening the value of the world’s most prized works of art. The proprietary technique is being used by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which has partnered with Fujifilm to produce three-dimensional reproductions of Vincent Van Gogh’s masterpieces.
Called “Relievos” by the museum, the replicas are of extremely high quality and will set you back £22,000, or just under $29,000. The museum is planning to sell 260 limited edition copies — all numbered and stamped — for both collectors and educational purposes. The high-tech copies are created through a special 3D technique known as Reliefography, which combines a three-dimensional scan of the painting with a high-resolution print, according to The Guardian .
Basically, the finished product is an extremely realistic copy of the painting down to the brush strokes, frame, and artist’s signature. But because these copies are so exact, it has people wondering if the Relievos could threaten the art market. Izabella Kaminska at FT Alphaville thinks it’s entirely possible, though not as the technology currently exists (subscription required) see ( Talking about 3D Technology – beyond printing Skype is developing 3D video calls and some 3D calls will take place and roll out now and take off in 2015. ( really accelerate by 2015).


Analytics 2014:
Analytics is going to be the hottest skill in 2014 – many now believe that Analytics is really the meta-layer of meaning for marketing – and it’s getting harder to see marketing jobs that don’t have Analytics as a key aspect of it. ( We know that organizations are closing  the gaps on Social Media ROI in 2013 – in 2014 SMROI will jump over 36%. Multichannel Attribution models begin to mature in 2014 and fully mature in 2015.  ( According to a report.
Google is currently experimenting with tracking offline store visits, using smartphone location, and trying to connect that back to mobile ad exposures. Google is likely using location in the background (on Android and iOS) and its database of business locations to determine when people visit stores after viewing a mobile ad(s) connected with the store.  Around three-quarters (73%, up from 65% in 2012) indicating  an improvement in conversion rates in the last 12 months (
Final Thoughts about 2014, a year that’s just about to start:
I think 2014 will be a better year for a lot of people, overall, than they have had since the year 2000-many things that were started at the very end of the last century will begin to mature this coming year, and a partial Convergence will emerge as a tangible reality by the end of the year – and will lead to the full Convergence in 2015 and 2016.
Happy Christmas and New Years all – and to a most Wonderful 2014 for us All, and particularly, the World.