At the beginning of February I wrote a blog entitled "Omniture to Phase Out Excel Client" and within hours the (very small segment of the world who cares about Excel integration for SiteCatalyst) exploded. Omniture quickly denied it would stop supporting Excel Client and people tweeted that I had falsified information in a quest to bring attention to my rarely used blog. As fast as the topic exploded, it imploded in a pile of hearsay.
Now that several months have passed by I wanted to rewind the tape and clarify that initial blog. From what I have deduced, a breakdown in communication between myself and the greater web analytics community occurred no later than the third and fourth words of my title. While I typed "Omniture to Phase Out Excel Client", everyone read "Omniture to Stop Supporting Excel Client". As soon as the phrase "stop supporting" caught fire on twitter, my initial blog went from bullet proof to Swiss cheese. Anyone who has followed Omniture as a company, knows that the notion that they would prematurely stop supporting a product is ludicrous. Look no further than the SiteCatalyst login page and you'll find that SiteCatalyst version 13 is still being supported three years after it became outdated technology or that HBX three years and two acquisitions later is still alive and well. Three years ago it would have in no way been a stretch to say that Omniture intends to phase out SC13 or HBX, but rearranging the statement to be Omniture will stop supporting SC13 or HBX would be flat out wrong.I can't fault Omniture's reaction to my initial blog. Understandably, Omniture wants its customers to know that it won't ever simply cut them off. I am, however, disappointed that Omniture customers failed to read the blog, comprehend its significance and act accordingly. As a response I though a recap and analysis of what we know to be absolutely true about ExcelClient and ReportBuilder was in order.
• Omniture will dedicate development efforts around Report Builder
• Excel Client will be maintained, but it is unlikely it will be enhanced
• If Excel Client is phased out, a conversion tool will be built that allows users to EC blocks into RB requests
Putting my degree in Rocket Scientology aside, it doesn't take much to deduce that these on record comments mean that Omniture does in fact plan on phasing out Excel Client. When you have two products that do the same thing and a company says they will "maintain" one and dedicate resources to build "new or advanced functionality" in the other, you don't even have to squint to see the long run picture.At the time I wrote my initial blog I speculated that Omniture might build an Excel Client to Report Builder report conversion tool in advance of a tool migration, but I had no official word on the matter. Shortly after publishing my blog Ben Ganes and several others within Omniture clarified that in advance of any phase out of Excel Client a conversion tool would be in place.
Now that we have cleared up Omniture's long run intentions, what should you do with this information today?
A. Keep denying Report Builders existence.
B. Insult the intelligence of the blogger.
C. Inquire with our account reps about getting a Report Builder license.
From my vantage point, it would be hard to go wrong with some combination of B and C. Two paragraphs ago the blogger did claim to have a degree in "Rocket Scientology," making him an easy target, and Omniture has made it clear that Omniture Report Builder is the Excel integration tool of the future.
For companies that have spare unused or rarely used Excel Client licenses should inquiring about exchanging an EC license for a RB license should be a no brainer. Ideally, you would like to be able to give the power users of the SiteCatalyst Excel integration tools access to both to make the transition from EC to RB as smooth as possible. Access to both would allow for maintenance and distribution of existing EC based reporting, while the latest and greatest reports could be created with RB.
Those who only have a single Excel Client license the decision of whether to try to switch now is a tossup. If you have a lot of Excel based reporting it might make sense to wait for the release of a EC to RB conversion tool, but if you have no or minimal existing reporting it might make sense to trade up to Report Builder. The two tool, at least as they exist today, are quite different and it certainly wouldn't hurt getting a head start.
Unfortunately the cost of exchanging licenses became a confusing subject around the time my initial blog on the topic was published and today the picture is still murky. Initially I heard that all clients can exchange EC licenses for RB ones on a one to one basis, but Omniture confirmed it wasn't that clear cut. As far as I understand (which in this case isn't all that much), the ability to trade licenses will be done on an account by account basis. Costs will vary from zero dollars for some to unknown amounts for others, depending on your volumes and the direction of the wind in Orem. My advice is to call your rep, make a case for why you want to try RB and ask for it at low to no cost. I personally hope that Omniture intends to use RB as indirect leverage for broader SiteCatalyst sales as opposed to a direct revenue stream from existing clients.I can't tell you what I know about the next evolution of Omniture Report Builder, but I will tease you with this -- I, a typically skeptical being, have very high hopes.