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MarketSight Delivers On-Demand Data Analysis
Analytics delivered via software-as-a-service continues to expand the business-user-friendliness of statistical analysis.
Posted Sep 9, 2008
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Research-analysis software MarketSight unveiled new features to its solution yesterday, aimed at providing market-research analysts and business analysts with tools to manipulate data more easily. The solution targets users who don’t necessarily have the sophisticated training needed to operate more-advanced analytics engines such as SPSS or SAS, but who are still well beyond mere Excel spreadsheets. Delivered as on-demand software, implementations require less overhead, are much less expensive, and -- most important -- enable real-time data- and file-sharing, according to Michael DeNitto, president and chief executive officer of MarketSight.  

The latest release includes the following highlights:

  • MarketSight Navigator (all editions): introduces a more-streamlined interface that gives users flexibility in navigating the site;
  • Market Research Portal (Enterprise edition only): allows the uploading of files -- and data of any type -- for sharing internally or with individual clients (each of which has its own portal to view and/or edit information);
  • Academic Edition: provides students and teachers access to all the core functionalities of the professional and enterprise editions (albeit with smaller data-storage spaces) for a license fees of just $95 per year.

“In order to do business successfully today,” DeNitto says, “we find that it's a requirement to find out what your customers think of you.” Not surprisingly, the demand for -- and ease of creating -- surveys has unleashed a deluge of data. Companies are struggling to glean some insight from the responses, DeNitto says, but traditional tools are only really accessible for those who have the expertise to manipulate the software. With that in mind, he says, MarketSight hopes to open up statistical analysis to a broader group of users -- the line-of-business kind of employee, he says, who “doesn’t have deep expertise in statistics or market-research techniques.”

“Maybe one of the secrets of the [technology] industry is that [though it] has so much computing power behind it, it doesn't necessarily base its decisions on very rigorous analysis of the data,” says Tom Grant,
senior analyst for technology marketing at Forrester Research. A large part of the industry, he says, simply relies on "a gut feeling about where the market’s going." Despite what Grant calls MarketSight’s lesser degree of sophistication compared to the likes of SPSS and SAS, he says he believes its offerings more than meet the threshold of what many users are looking for. Even so, MarketSight’s particular appeal is its ability to automate certain functions, such as determining the appropriate statistical test for a specific set of data selected by a user. In fact, Grant adds, the software will “suggest as you go what sort of analysis you should do…not just what’s on the page right now.”

DeNitto says that MarketSight is one of only a few players in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) data-analysis space -- and he says that at least one of those others, Arizona-based WinCross, is merely creating Web-based versions of its traditional software, as opposed to having built an application native to SaaS. The goal, DeNitto says, is to have a client able to buy, run, and install MarketSight's software -- all without involving the technology department. An online training program -- led by DeNitto’s voice -- provides short videos that take users through all the key areas of the product. 

MarketSight's Enterprise edition is more costly than Professional, but allows companies to customize with their logos and color schemes, as well as their own domain names. Companies also have access to application programming interfaces (APIs) that can be integrated with the source of data collection, automatically feeding data into the software, rather than having to upload that data separately.

Our view of technology, Grant says, is destined to shift away from information technology and toward enhancing the value of business technology. The real challenge facing MarketSight, he says, is getting organizations to see the need for doing this kind of analysis in the first place. “It’s the statistical analysis versus the hippo -- the person with the loudest voice,” Grant says. “A lot of organizations will be resistant because there will be people who will then lose decision-making power -- their assertive statements will be undermined by what the data suggests.”


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