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Delivering Custom Analytics: Best Practices for Application Teams

By Michelle Gardner | June 5, 2017
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Analytics dashboards are becoming more and more important to application teams with each passing year. In a recent survey, over 90 percent of applications included some form of embedded analytics. But out-of-the-box, easily replicated analytics simply won’t cut it for most companies. That’s why so many software companies are focused on custom analytics that deliver exactly what their customers want.

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Why is custom analytics becoming the norm? Two reasons:

First, different users have vastly different needs. Analytics is never a one-size-fits-all solution. That means customization has become a necessity. For example, within the same organization, sales leaders may want to see geographic heat maps, the finance department might require pre-built dashboards, and IT could look for unencumbered data access for real-time network visibility. Giving every user the same analytics experience simply won’t cut it. Today’s product teams must tailor capabilities to users’ roles and skills to derive maximum value from applications.

Second, consistency in branding and user experience matters more than ever. If embedded dashboards and reports don’t blend seamlessly with the rest of the application, they simply won’t be used. Customers demand applications that look and feel like a cohesive experience—and if they see your application branded one way and the analytics in it branded a completely different way, they’ll be turned off. That’s why many companies are creating purpose-built analytics that can be widely customized in the context of the applications people already use every day.

As development teams create custom analytics dashboards, they should keep these three best practices in mind.

1. First embed, then customize analytics for a seamless user experience (UX).

One of the biggest challenges with modern analytics is that too often, they are housed in third-party tools that require users to move back and forth between applications. When analytics dashboards are not contained within the applications employees use every day, workflow is interrupted and productivity is lost. That’s why embedded analytics has been such a hit with software developers and product managers. By embedding analytics in existing applications, customer satisfaction goes up since they don’t have to toggle between those applications and standalone analytics tools.

So embedding is step one. But to create an application that really exceeds expectations, those embedded reports and dashboards need to match the look and experience of the native application they sit in. An inconsistent, disjointed user experience lowers adoption and usage rates. At its core, this is a branding issue—the most successful custom analytics create a uniform experience across every screen. They are also built to be flexible depending on a user’s role, which leads us to the second tip…

2. Purpose-build custom analytics dashboards with the user in mind.

Legacy analytics tools were built rigidly, intended for repetitive tasks and manual processes. Today, users want the flexibility to leverage data visualization tools in a way that helps them do their jobs more effectively.

Purpose-built custom analytics are created with a variety of users—and their different needs—in mind. By customizing dashboards to suit different users, application teams are able to increase the likelihood that the analytics tools will be adopted.

Taking it one step further, many software companies are embedding self-service capabilities in their applications. These capabilities mean customers are able to help themselves to dashboards and reports without relying on help from IT teams or the other application owners. And with custom analytics dashboards, you maintain control over these personalized views to make sure every user sees exactly what they need (and doesn’t see what they’re not supposed to).

3. Consider the benefits of an analytics development platform.

In the past, the two most prevalent means of creating custom analytics dashboards were either to purchase an out-of-the-box BI solution from a third party or to leverage in-house teams to develop custom dashboards.

Today, however, organizations have a third option: By partnering with a third-party analytics development platform, they get the benefits of an infrastructure upon which they can develop and customize their own unique analytics solution. This approach can be likened to putting together a piece of furniture from a set of parts, rather than building all the parts separately first and then building the piece itself. This route allows companies to create a unique product faster while still customizing it to their exact needs.

Leveraging an analytics platform reduces development time, allowing organizations to get products to market quickly and scale them easily, while still providing the capabilities developers need to customize custom analytics. Additionally, a platform means the vendor is in charge of supporting the latest features and capabilities, which means your internal resources can stay focused on your core product while still offering the latest analytics capabilities to your customers.

 

 

About the Author

Michelle Gardner is the Director of Corporate Marketing & Communications at Logi Analytics. She has over a decade of experience writing and editing content, with a specialty in software and technology.

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