Piwik Analytics instead of Google Analytics

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					Piwik Analytics instead of Google Analytics

Written by erik
Monday, 11 May 2009 05:56




I installed the Google Analytics (GA) tracking on a friend's website a few weeks ago. Even
though GA reported the tracking software as being installed, it still has not started tracking since
that time.




I raised a trouble ticket with the GA helpdesk a week ago, but I still have not received an answer
as to why the tracking has not started. So, I went out there in the bush to find an alternative to
GA.




By going through the site analytics category, I bumped into piwik analytics in the Joomla
extension repository.




According to the piwik site , it aims to be an open-source alternative to Google Analytics.




Now, Google Analytics is not bad. But then again, the GA Helpdesk is obviously undermanned
and overwhelmed. it must be indeed hard to provide quality support for free. I do not see what
business model allows it, except for user community self-help forums.




Website analytics is a mission-critical service for website owners, who use it intensively to steer
their marketing strategies and budgets, and to track their return on marketing campaigns. If the
website analytics service goes titsup, it soon causes panic amongst website owners. In the case
of Google Analytics, they will also have nobody to turn to, in order to fix the problem asap.




Google Analytics, as a free service, is not sufficiently well supported to cut it for the
mission-critical need of  knowing what is going on, on the website.




Furthermore, the one size fits all approach of GA, will not suit the need of website owners, who
will eventually start clamouring for their own specific customizations in an exactly-like-I-want-it
style.




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Piwik Analytics instead of Google Analytics

Written by erik
Monday, 11 May 2009 05:56

As a service provider to website owners, I can see their frustration growing with GA, as they --
with open wallets in their hands -- cannot have what they want, because Google Analytics
simply will not do it or even allow it. As a service provider, I also see serious and missed
opportunities to customize things for website owners who really want it or need it. Piwik can
definitely be a solution to this problem.




Piwik has an elaborate extension mechanism, which supports installing, configuring, and
customizing, additional plugins and widgets.




I can see the same pattern emerge as with Joomla and Virtuemart. First, the website owner
installs mostly the standard version and goes live with that. As his business grows, and his
experience with managing his web properties increases, he begins to develop precise and
specific needs that outgrow that what can be configured out of the box, and finally calls in an
A-team of customizers, such as ourselves :-)




In terms of functionality, Piwik should not just run after Google Analytics, and treat it as the one
shining example to emulate.




Website analytics is just a subfield in the old and mature fields of Business Intelligence (BI)
and                                                                                             Da
 ta Warehousing
(DW).  There is no need to re-invent the wheel, when these fields have accumulated years of
experience in solving the same problem. Google Analytics fails to provide support for otherwise
typical BI and DW activities:


   -   data integration
   -   multidimensional drilldown
   -   data mining
   -   detailed and exception reporting
   -   user alerts and notifications




That is why the open-source packages Spango and Pentaho beat Google Analytics -- no
sweat -- in terms of implementing serious and proven business intelligence methods.
Unfortunately, these packages are not yet pre-configured to collect, analyze, and report on



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Piwik Analytics instead of Google Analytics

Written by erik
Monday, 11 May 2009 05:56

website traffic. There is definitely room in the market for a solution that uses such serious BI
application as the basis for website analytics.




Unfortunately, these BI applications are quite old-fashioned and still sport desktop user
interfaces -- which are a deployment and support hazard -- instead of offering lightweight web
interfaces. They also very often still use fat, bloated, obese programming environments such as
Java and C#, instead of using lightweight scripting language such as Perl, Php or Python. You
will also notice that these traditional BI applications usually suffer from old-fashioned,
kitchen-sink featuritis, instead of offering a well-designed extension mechanism, along with a
repository of modules and plugins.




As a matter of fact, the technical architecture of the typical Business Intelligence application is
not very Business Intelligent.




Piwik, indeed, runs circles around these traditional BI applications, in terms of ease of
installation, deployment, support, configuration, customizability, extensibility, and availability of
interesting extensions.




Therefore, I will keep test-running Piwik as an alternative to Google Analytics. My first
impression is that Piwik is really good; and definitely has potential.




At the same time, however, I believe that a more general, open-source, Business Intelligence &
Data Warehousing application, that truly supports the entire arsenal of BI methods, and which
also has a good application architecture (in Piwik style) will eventually emerge, and become the
true winner in its class.




 




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