Embedded analytics makes applications infinitely more valuable, separates software from competitors, and offers new revenue streams—but it can also be a daunting undertaking. Where should you start your embedded analytics journey, and what are the important steps along the way?
Tim Ward is the director of product strategy at StarCompliance, a leading provider of regulatory compliance software for financial institutions. He recently shared lessons learned from his company’s journey embedding analytics with Logi Vice President of Product Marketing Brian Brinkmann. StarCompliance is partnering with Logi to embed analytics in its software. They are on track to deliver two to three times more functionality than ever before.
Brian Brinkmann: Where were you when you started your analytics journey, and what you were looking for in an analytics solution?
Tim Ward: StarCompliance has been around for nearly 20 years. We redeveloped the platform we have about 12 years ago, and we’ve always had some kind of reporting capability within the product. A lot of the time, that’s been generating Excel reports or flat data exports. We’ve had our own graphical reporting capability, as well, and we made the decision to make it self-service and provide a lot of functionality to our clients.
The feedback has been, “While we can get that data, we’re still exporting it from the application and doing a lot of manipulation in Excel. So, we can’t quite build the reports that we need to, or we don’t have the time or capability.” We were looking for a different approach to the reporting solution—a much more managed experience where we’d be more thoughtful about what information we needed to present to our clients and users and build that into the fabric of the application.
How important was the evaluation process and what did you learn along the way?
I think we’d originally planned for a three-week evaluation process. We came up with a list of eight possible vendors and we short-listed it down to two or three. Then I think what happened was because it was such an important decision for us, we decided to extend that evaluation period and do a deeper dive proof-of-concept.
We were really interested in how easy it would be to actually build this, and would it be easier than doing it by ourselves? We had a bit of a “build” philosophy. So, it was a change of mindset for us. We wanted to know is this actually going to be easier, and can we train our development teams or promote the skills required and all the practicalities?
The second thing we focused on was security and building our security model into the application. It’s a fairly complex security and entitlement model. Our software is used by firms that have tens of thousands of employees across 30, 40 different locations, and because of the requirements around personal identifiable information, there is personal financial information within our product. So, it was really important to us that we were able to implement that security model.
How important is the user experience—be it self-service or even the managed content—to the success of the product?
The compliance application is almost like the ultimate business application. It’s not necessarily a task that everybody really wants to do. They just want to get in, do it as quickly as possible, and get out again. We started to think a lot about how to improve that engagement for our compliance teams. And that was really about making those apps behave like consumer apps that we use at home.
The business app has got to like look nice, it’s got to feel nice, and it’s got to be interactive. Some products we looked at gave you more of that out of the box, but then you have to buy into that whole end-to-end pipeline and strategy and design aesthetics.
One of the advantages of the Logi product for us is that we could still control that part of it. We could control the styling, we could control the interactions, we could put our layer upon it—we were working within this framework that gave us that flexibility. So yeah, it’s incredibly important for us to keep driving that improvement in user interaction.
What do you foresee coming for your product that will help your customers even more?
The reporting and analytics piece is obviously going to now be a theme that runs through the next five years, and there’s loads of opportunities around how we can apply that into the compliance domain. I think after we’ve done that “MVP,” if you like—that first year of actually getting the product embedded—we’ll be releasing 10 to 20 different types of dashboards within that MVP.
We’re also interested in actually embedding analytics and visualizations within key workflows. So, as well as the big dashboards, there’s just the visualization of a key piece of information that might help the user review or make a decision.
And then Logi kindly came along and gave us a primer on predictive analytics and how it’s used in other industries like healthcare and manufacturing. We came up with probably 10 or 15 good use cases within the compliance domain around how we could fully introduce the concept of predictive analytics, but to actually do something that’s meaningful and is useful.