So I just listened to the webinar from Peterson and Ensighten on Tag Management Systems. This has always been a hot topic in my career. At Omniture I was part of the original team to implement and identify directions for the “Universal Tag”. I use quotes because, as was pointed out in the webinar, it really wasn’t a “Universal Tag” it was more of a helper tag to push out data to partners. It also came with unreasonable costs (at least in my opinion). Why would we charge for work that the browser was doing? Yes the data that was already being collected through the Omniture implementation could be leveraged toward partners, but the cost was unreasonable and further entrenched the customer into the Omniture tagging architecture. I complained up the channels at Omniture, but the opportunity at leveraging the tags for further revenue streams was more appealing than building out an open architecture free for everyone to use.
Fast forward and I left Omniture to be an analyst at HP. Managing tags was a HUGE issue and we looked into Tealium for help. What really made sense to us at the time was an open architecture that enterprise online tools could turn to for help in easily collecting data on customers. A central source where industry specific data was collected and then passed to any partner that wanted data to run their online tools. I had some contacts from the Omniture partner program and got some feedback on what would really work. We decided to build out our own architecture and make it open source so anyone could access it and partners could build out new functionality. I worked with Matt Wright (now the CTO at Keystone Solutions) to build out the architecture for an open source tag. Well, we had built the tag and were implementing it when I had an offer to make a lot of money and travel the world. So I left the #measure world for a year. During that time, Matt left HP for Keystone, he open-sourced our tag management architecture and has since inked a deal with webanalyticsdemystified (nice work guys). I know that Keystone has been having some success with the open sourced tag management system and that is why I was surprised to hear Eric Peterson say that online managers should run away from open source tag management.
For me keeping tag management open makes more sense than building a new industry around it. And the reason I say that is because of the power that comes from being the center of data collection. Many online tools are vying to be the center of data collection for the web. It is an extremely strategic position to be in. Everything begins at the center of data collection and distribution. That is the one reason I think that keeping the architecture open makes sense. The one question I had during the webinar was how Ensighten planned on creating checks and balances so their position of power was not abused. And also, I was curious how they would plan on working with online tools to implement new feature sets. Some kind of open architecture to develop on and then get reviewed by Ensighten developers and analysts would be ideal. Maybe if Ensighten was a non-profit entity that would give me less worry on where they might end up.
But as some of you know, I joined Tealeaf because of their data collection setup (easily collect data without bugging developers) and potentials for extreme analyses of data (they collect everything). Just because Tealeaf has a different way to collect data does not mean I think that a TMS system is moot. There will always be a need to access and distribute data directly from the browser (unless the request-response internet model ceases to exist). In fact there is code that Tealeaf uses that would be nice to add to a TMS system so data collection can be flipped on rather than reviewed, implemented and tested by clients (ideally). So, yes I am on board for an architecture that can more easily implement all these tags that online managers need to run their website. My only concern is the strategic position that the de facto TMS system may find itself in. Let’s make sure no abuse comes of it. My vote will always be on Open Source or non-profit entity because of that strategic position.