Site Management Features
Commerce Server Business Desk is an extensible tool that business managers use to manage and analyze their Web sites. For example, you use Business Desk features to update pricing information in your catalogs, target new advertisements to specific users, and then run reports to measure how these changes affect site productivity.
Business Desk has two parts: the Business Desk application and the Business Desk client.
Business Desk application. The management tool you use to configure, manage, and analyze your site. After you install Commerce Server, you can unpack a Solution Site to install a Business Desk application. Business Desk is accessible from any computer running Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5, providing you with secure remote access.
Business Desk client. The client software that is installed locally on your computer, providing the interface to the Business Desk application. When you first access the Business Desk application (via a URL), the Business Desk client is downloaded and installed onto your computer. It is recommended that the computer on which you run the Business Desk client have a high-speed connection (LAN) to the Business Desk application.
Business Desk is an enhancement of Site Server 3.0 and Site Server 3.0, Commerce Edition (SSCE) Web-based Administration (WebAdmin), a browser-based interface used to administer Site Server from a remote location. WebAdmin was designed for system administrators. Business Desk, however, is designed for business managers: people who understand business goals, strategies, and processes for creating and running a successful e-commerce Web site, but who may not have the technical knowledge for administering a server application.
The following new Business Desk features were designed for the business manager to use to easily manage a Web site:
Product Catalog System
Business Analytics System
In Site Server 3.0 and SSCE, the profile system collects user information. In the Commerce Server Profiling System, however, you can collect any information you specify for any business-related item. For example, you can collect profile information for anonymous users, a context (such as the date and time of a visit), or an organization.
The Profiling System consists of the Profiles resource, managed using Commerce Server Manager, and the Users modules, managed using Commerce Server Business Desk. Profile information is stored in the Profiles data store, which can be Active Directory, SQL Server, or both. You can export data from the Profiles data into the Data Warehouse, and then using the Business Desk you can analyze the profile data that is collected.
- Commerce Server does not include the Site Server 3.0 Membership Directory. For information about migrating profile information from the Site Server 3.0 Membership Directory to Commerce Server, see Migrating from Site Server 3.0.
Product Catalog System
The Commerce Server Product Catalog System is a new feature for importing, exporting, creating, and managing online catalogs. By using the Catalog modules in Business Desk, business managers can create catalogs of products, and add and update product data. You do not need any specialized knowledge about the databases that store your product data, even if you are assembling a catalog of products from different sources, such as several different suppliers. For example, you can:
Import catalogs that are in Extensible Markup Language (XML) or comma-separated value file (CSV) format.
Export catalogs in XML or CSV format.
Exchange catalogs with trading partners using BizTalk Server.
Price products and categories.
Add, update, and delete categories and products, and the data they contain.
Apply discounts to products or groups.
Run reports to analyze catalog activity.
Apply multiple search mechanisms so users visiting your site can find what they need in your catalog.
Catalog data is stored in the Commerce Server database, which is a SQL Server (7.0 or 2000) database. You can export catalog data from the Commerce Server database to the Data Warehouse, and then using Business Desk you can analyze the catalog data that is collected.
A site developer can use the Product Catalog System COM objects to customize your Product Catalog System.
The Targeting System is a high-performance, versatile platform that business managers use to target content to any business-related item or condition. It includes a consistent targeting model so business managers can use only one technology to target different business conditions.
The Targeting System includes the following features:
Campaigns. The Campaigns modules in Business Desk are an extended version of the Ad Manager feature in SSCE. The Campaigns modules are tightly integrated with both the Profiling System and the Product Catalog System through expressions. Expressions enable you to target advertisements to users and to apply discounts to products. The Campaigns modules are also integrated with the Business Analytics System so that you can analyze the success of your campaigns.
Content Selection Framework. The Content Selection Framework (CSF) is a pipeline-based system that determines the content to be delivered for advertising and discount campaigns. CSF allows multiple pieces of content to be retrieved as a recordset with only one call, resulting in significant speed.
The CSF architecture supports an open scoring system that enables site developers to change the algorithm used to determine which piece of content is delivered. In addition, debugging code can be used to monitor events that occur during the scoring process.
Expression Builder. In Commerce Server, Expression Builder provides an intuitive user interface that business managers use to create expressions that target content to any business item that has a profile.
Business Desk users access Expression Builder through the Campaign Manager and Campaign Expressions modules. However, Expression Builder is designed so that site developers can easily embed its functionality and user interface in other Business Desk modules or other Web applications.
List Manager. List Manager is a service with a Business Desk user interface that enables you to import and export lists of user profiles. It is integrated with the Business Analytics System enabling you, for example, to run reports to generate a list of profiles, and then import that list to the List Manager. You can also import segment data to the List Manager. After you import a list of user profiles to List Manager, you can export it to the Users module, and then update the profile information as needed, for example, to add properties to user profiles for targeting. You can also use the list to run a direct mail campaign.
Commerce Server Direct Mailer. Direct Mailer is a fast, scalable Windows 2000 service that you use to send personalized e-mail messages from a Web page, or non-personalized mailings from a flat text file, to large groups of recipients. Direct Mailer can be used as a stand-alone process or integrated into the Campaigns modules in Business Desk. Direct Mailer tracks e-mails, recording which ones are sent and which ones are clicked (opened), enabling you to analyze the success of a direct mail campaign.
The Direct Mailer pipeline is used to process lists of recipients. You can add new components to the pipeline, integrate the components with line-of-business systems, or replace them with components supplied by third parties.
Business Analytics System
The Business Analytics System includes enhancements to the Site Server 3.0 Analysis and Predictor features to significantly increase functionality, efficiency, and processing speed.
The Business Analytics System includes the following new features and enhancements:
Analysis. The Analysis modules in Business Desk include the functionality of the Report Writer feature in Site Server 3.0, and many additional enhancements. You can use the Analysis modules to:
Run reports on site activity.
View and manipulate the reports in Internet Explorer using Microsoft PivotTables and Microsoft PivotCharts.
Export the reports to the Profiling System or Targeting System, and then use the data for updating profiles or for targeting content.
You can run reports much more quickly in Commerce Server than was possible in Site Server because the data required for many of the reports is stored in an Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) database.
Data Warehouse. The Commerce Server Data Warehouse replaces the Site Server 3.0 Analysis database. The Data Warehouse is a combination of a SQL Server database, an OLAP database, and a set of processes that a system administrator uses to import and maintain data. The Data Warehouse imports a large amount of data collected from several different data sources. It collects day-to-day operational data about users who visit your site: user profile data, transaction data, and click-history data. It also collects product data and advertising data. This data is gathered from your Web server logs, the Commerce Server databases, and other data sources that you specify. The Data Warehouse then manages the data in the database for the purpose of business analytics.
You can configure Data Warehouse properties to specify how data is to be imported.
Predictor. The Predictor resource is a Windows 2000 service that is optionally installed with Commerce Server 2000 as part of a complete or a custom installation. The Predictor resource enables you to provide predictive capabilities for your Web site, for example, to display product recommendations.
The Commerce Server Predictor resource includes several enhancements that make it more efficient than the Site Server 3.0 Predictor. It also includes additional functionality, enabling you to analyze your models.
Predictor includes the following enhancements and functionality:
Segment models. In addition to creating Prediction models, you can now create Segment models. A Segment model, also known as a cluster model, partitions users into segments, or groups of users who share specific characteristics or behavior. You can use these segments for subsequent marketing.
Model viewers. You can analyze Prediction models using the Prediction Model Viewer accessed through Commerce Server Manager, and you can analyze Segment models using the Segment Viewer module in Business Desk.
Model-based algorithm. In Site Server 3.0, Predictor used a data-based algorithm for making predictions. The new model-based algorithm uses decision trees (dependency networks) for making predictions, which is more accurate and significantly faster.
Automated data analysis. Predictor includes features for automatic and efficient data sampling, improved methods for selecting the attributes to model, and an algorithm that automatically "guesses" the optimal distribution for modeling those attributes.
Offline building of models. Models are not built on the Web server, so the building process does not impact the performance of your site.
All Web servers use the same model. In Site Server 3.0, each Web server had to build its own model. In Commerce Server, all Web servers use the same model so fewer resources are consumed building models.