In any facet of life—and especially in business—so much of good decision-making is about context. It’s not enough to have facts or figures that tell just one part of a larger story. In fact, having only pieces of information can be worse than having no information at all, because it can lead to proactive, even aggressive decisions based on incorrect assumptions and bad data.
Part of having context is about being able to see all the relevant information in one place. Having to stop working and move between multiple applications or platforms to get the information you need is not only inefficient—research indicates it can cost employees 1 to 2 hours per week—it also opens the door for inaccurate conclusions. Why? Because it is much more difficult to synthesize and analyze information from different places than it is to view data holistically.
Perhaps nowhere is it more critical to provide users with context than in business applications. By putting information in context of the applications people already use to do their work, embedded analytics integrates information with existing workflows—improving access to data, powering stronger analysis, and leading to smarter decisions.
Integrated analytics puts information inside an application, rather than leaving it in standalone tools, improving the user experience by streamlining the way they work. In fact, a recent survey on adoption of analytics solutions found that 84 percent of business users want access to analytics within the applications they’re already using. Quite simply, using one application is easier, and leads to greater productivity, than using several simultaneously.
Examples of how integrated analytics enable informed business decisions are abundant, but let’s take a sales team as an example. Unlike years ago when IT managed all analytics, sales teams (like many other business units) now have access to their own business intelligence and analytics tools to do their jobs effectively. Traditionally, salespeople have been evaluated mostly on one metric: revenue generated. Data is pulled from a CRM or financial platform, put into a few charts, and those who have generated the most revenue are lauded, while others suffer negative consequences.
But does one metric paint the full picture? Definitely not. In the sales example, looking at revenue alone leaves a lot to be desired. For instance, while some sales representatives may not have closed much business in a given quarter, they may have an abundance of opportunities in the pipeline that forecast greater future performance. What about customer satisfaction? Perhaps some salespeople lagging behind in revenue receive wonderful feedback and high satisfaction scores through the company’s client portal. These representatives may not have generated the most revenue today, but a high level of customer satisfaction may increase retention rates and raise the lifetime value of that particular customer.
An organization would get a more holistic view of sales performance—and thus make more informed decisions—by looking at all of this information together as part of integrated analytics. Integrated analytics can also benefit leadership in a variety of other ways. Looking at purchase patterns could help identify an underserved geographical location that offers untapped opportunities. In many cases data on marketing engagement—website visits, email clicks, and content downloads—can provide sales with valuable information that helps shape future discussions with clients and prospects. In this use case, integrated analytics from both marketing and sales platforms can provide an organization with a competitive edge.
Of course, integrated analytics can benefit many business units outside sales, including finance, marketing, project management, IT, and others. Integrated analytics produces better decision making by providing context and connecting data streams, while also boosting productivity by eliminating the need for users to interrupt their workflows to move from one application to another.
Interested in integrating analytics in your application? Read the ebook for a Blueprint to Modern Analytics.