Inferior analytics may make your app extinct
Thursday, December 08, 2016
Every worker is now a knowledge worker. Employees on the manufacturing floor are increasingly responsible for tracking production yield. Front line retail employees are expected to use data to be aware of inventory levels. Analysts must keep up-to-date with real-time data to make better decisions. We are all increasingly judged on how we use data to more effectively do our jobs.
But the tools on the market are not fit for this purpose. Vendors of self-service and data discovery solutions have spent millions of dollars simplifying their apps to help connect people to data. But while availability of these apps has increased, adoption has dropped. In fact, the 2017 State of Analytics Adoption Report showed a two-year decline in usage of self-service analytics tools.
The opposite is true of embedded analytics – which integrates analytics within the applications people are using every day. Why do people prefer embedded analytics? Because leaving current workflows and opening standalone applications to analyze data is inefficient and outdated. Eighty-four percent of business users agree, saying it’s important for them to be able to access analytics embedded within the applications they’re already using.
Now more than ever, software vendors are catching on. According to the 2016 State of Embedded Analytics Report, 94 percent of independent software vendors (ISVs) and 80 percent of non-commercial application providers say embedded analytics is important to their users. And application providers say 43 percent of their users use embedded analytics on a regular basis. That’s double the adoption rate of traditional analytics tools, which has hit a ceiling of around 20 to 30 percent.
Most traditional BI tools are focused on data discovery. These tools are easy to use, have a great UI, and are easy to find, try and buy. But when users want to actually analyze business data, they need to switch from their standard application to a separate discovery app, which causes a lot of friction and contributes to that lack of adoption.
Nearly 67 percent of business users say they find themselves switching to separate analytics tools to get the data or analysis they need. This toggling is so wasteful that analysts have said individual business users can lose up to two hours per week of productivity. It makes employees less efficient, it frustrates businesses that demand efficiency and it inhibits the value of your software.
That’s why many application owners – the product managers at software companies and IT leaders in enterprises – are focused on improving or updating the analytics in their product in 2017. Simply put: Without analytics at the core of your application, you risk extinction.
What Are the Implications?
Embedded analytics have come a long way from simple static report modules in a business application. Today, embedded analytics can be interactive, offer drill-down and drill-through capabilities and even provide self-service to end users that need to answer questions they haven’t yet thought of. The future of embedded analytics goes beyond these capabilities – ultimately allowing for the analytics and the application to talk to each other and kick off workflows, further reducing the need for users to ever leave the app.
Let’s consider the implications of not embedding. Say you develop point-of-sale software: Retail employees log transactions, data gets collected, and management relies on that data to analyze performance. If your software doesn’t offer users the flexibility to drill into the data, create new dashboards, or adjust the data views to suit their needs, they’ll just export the data to Excel – and your app will become an afterthought.
When users share that data with their CEO, they’re sending the Excel file via e-mail or Microsoft PowerPoint. As a result, your software isn’t be seen by the executives who will ultimately approve budget decisions. By ignoring this important aspect you risk your product being replaced – or, at best, make it very difficult to spread through organizations.
What Are the Benefits?
It’s important to make sure you are not only driving usage of your application, but you are driving users back to your application. Historically, not offering embedded self-service led to an avalanche of ongoing ad-hoc requests. As a Product Manager you could either accommodate those requests, thereby bloating your core product and delaying execution of your roadmap. Or you could ignore the requests and risk customer churn.
Embedded analytics solves this problem while keeping users and those they share analysis with inside your application. It also creates an opportunity for product differentiation and upsell – both necessary to win and retain customers in the ultra-competitive software market.
Today, it’s more important than ever to modernize the analytics your customers want in the application you’re providing. But as an application developer or product manager, you’re also facing the challenges of ensuring your product roadmap incorporates compelling features, is delivered on time, and stays ahead of the competition. This is where a developer-friendly platform for embedded analytics can help: With a strong platform as a foundation and a team of experts to take work off your plate, you can focus on your daily work while providing the modern analytics, visuals, and interactivity users crave.
So, as you finalize your product roadmap for 2017, you have to ask: Are my analytics good enough to keep customers in your app?
This content is made possible by a guest author, or sponsor; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of App Developer Magazine's editorial staff.
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