Five years ago, including embedded analytics in an application was a powerful way for product teams to differentiate their applications, reduce customer churn, and charge more for their products. Users were thrilled with the bells and whistles of charts, graphs, and dashboards in the applications they already used, and they were often willing to pay more for these business intelligence (BI) capabilities.
Today, nearly everyone is in on the act. Over 90% of software companies are embedding some form of analytics in their applications – often for free, according to the 2017 State of Embedded Analytics Report from Logi Analytics. For this report we surveyed 500 members of application teams, including product managers, developers, software engineers, and executives from commercial independent software vendors (ISVs), commercial Software as a Service (SaaS) providers, and non-commercial IT-managed applications.
When considering the value of analytics relative to their products overall, survey respondents estimated the value at 54%, up from 45% in 2016. This growth demonstrates that both users and product teams are realising value from embedded analytics.
What’s more, 94% of product managers and developers reported that embedded analytics helps them improve customer satisfaction, and 99% said it helps them improve the user experience.
Embedded Analytics – Five Key Considerations
But what works? Product managers who are considering whether to embed analytics in their applications, or to enhance the analytics they already offer, need to think carefully about the features that interest their customers. Successful embedded analytics projects are not just appealing depictions of data, they must generate insights and actions. What will satisfy your current customer base and win over new customers?
Here are five factors and features that can set your application’s analytics apart and drive revenue.
1. Consider the Overall User Experience: First and foremost, in order to monetise the embedded analytics in their applications, product managers need to consider the complete user experience. Dashboards and reports should integrate seamlessly in the rest of the application—both in terms of actions (do dashboards live in a separate tab or should they be integrated into existing workflows?) and in terms of branding (do the analytics look and feel like the rest of your application?). If users are let down by a disjointed user experience, they may abandon your application entirely.
2. Integrate Workflow Actions: Analytics should drive action, not just visualise data. Many traditional BI features have acted as a one-way street. They gathered information, synthesised it, and distributed it to the people who needed it. But they didn’t let users take action on that information.
For example, let’s say your application shows your customer a chart with buying segments for her company. If that customer discovers an underserved group and wants to alert her colleagues so they can start a marketing campaign, she’ll likely have to exit the application and use some external tools to do that. But what if she could take those next steps without leaving your application?
By integrating workflow capabilities in your embedded analytics, you can let your users take actions from within your application—whether that’s sharing findings with colleagues or kicking off a new process at the click of a button. Integrating analytics in the host application workflow helps you create compelling and thoughtful use cases that truly differentiate your application from the competition.
3. Enable Action with Write-Back Capabilities: Empowering your users to write-back information to the application’s source systems is another way to keep them in your application rather than forcing them out to other systems. As in the workflow example above, many legacy BI instances have allowed users to review insights, but they didn’t support actions taken within the application.
By integrating write-back capabilities into your embedded analytics, you enable users to update the information in the application’s source systems, including databases, without leaving your interface. Application components all work together, which means your customers can maintain systems of record with the latest information while staying within the context of your product.
4. Reduce Security Friction Points: If you want your customers to make use of embedded analytics, start by making the dashboards easy to access. Users have no desire to sign in with new credentials whenever they access the embedded dashboards and reports in your application. Likewise, they don’t want it to take over 24 hours to update the system when someone’s security rights change.
Modern applications are starting to integrate adaptive security in their BI offerings. This makes everything seamless for your users, supporting advanced requirements such as multi-tenancy and single sign-on. As an added bonus, it also means your developers can integrate your existing security framework in the new analytics offerings, drastically reducing the burden on development and IT teams.
5. Embed Self-Service Analytics: Any user who’s working with the same analytics day in and day out will eventually want to connect a new data source or create a new visualisation that hasn’t been done before. Consider a member of a sales team who discovers a new purchasing pattern and wants to create a dashboard to track the information. In the past, this would leave developers and product teams with two equally undesirable options: either make changes to the application’s core functionality whenever a unique request like this comes in, or refuse requests and end up with unhappy users that have to deal with the application in its original form.
By adding self-service capabilities to your embedded analytics, you empower users to ask new questions and explore their data for unique answers—without help from your technology team. It’s the ultimate win-win: users customise your application so it fits more use cases than ever, while you significantly reduce the number of ad hoc analytics requests your technology team has to handle. Self-service analytics can also lead to valuable insight into your customers, allowing you to see what kinds of dashboards and reports naturally evolve in your product in response to customer needs you didn’t anticipate.
In the competitive software world, customers are always ripe for churn. Embedded analytics offers product teams an opportunity to differentiate their applications, win over new customers, and keep their current ones. It may be no surprise, then, that over 70 per cent of application teams surveyed in the 2017 State of Embedded Analytics Report report that they plan to increase their investments in embedded analytics within the next 12 months.