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Top Considerations for Embedding Analytics into Your Product

dean-yaoIn this special guest feature, Dean Yao, Director of Marketing at Jinfonet, discusses his 3 top considerations for embedding analytics into your product. Dean brings over 10 years of experience in software marketing and product management. Prior to working at Jinfonet Software, Dean was a senior product manager at cloud computing startup Nimbula (acquired by Oracle), where he focused on technical best practices, competitive marketing, and product strategy. Dean was also in technical marketing at VMware, specializing in virtualization clustering and resource management products.

The core focus of embedding analytics into your software product is to provide the right visualizations to the right users. Naturally, product owners looking beyond back-end features want to find an embedded analytics solutions that best delivers analytics features. In order to support your customers’ analytics needs, product owners should pay special attention to visualizations, interactive analytics, and report delivery features.

Product owners should ensure their analytics solution supports highly actionable information. Many customers may need robust drill down features to support root cause analysis and custom data views to answer different questions.

Additionally, a delivery paradigm that supports your customers’ needs and organizational structure is necessary to consider. Organizations require support for different delivery models such as Web delivery, report bursting, or different file formats provided in a secure method often with different user access levels.

In this article, we’ll provide some insights for each of these three areas which make an ideal product with embedded analytics.

1 — Precise, Insightful Visualizations

The first critical capability is that the analytics offering must provide multiple design paradigms to satisfy varying levels of sophistication. This allows your development team to craft reports with complex data aggregations and layouts with a solution that offers fine-grain control over all reporting elements. Secondarily, address your casual users with a solution that offers a guided design workflow allowing new users the ability to independently explore data while reducing the workload on your development team.

With that being said, your strategy with casual users should begin with leveraging templates made by a core BI team within your development team. This allows for reusable assets and access to data connections, formatted layouts, prebuilt aggregations, etc. which enable casual users to create reports with little custom work that may be beyond their technical expertise. Features such as absolute vs. floating layouts, customizable banding, pagination options, and graphic overlays ensure success in creating specific layouts for a variety of use cases.

Lastly, ensure the analytics solution allows for a secure method of sharing templates and reports within organizations. This is necessary for any scalable reusable analytics assets strategy.

2 — Interactions for Multiple Perspectives

On top of having the right visualization features comes the question of how much actionable information can be derived? While many customers may be satisfied with nicely formatted static metrics, others may require more interactive analysis. The best embedded analytics solution offers a variety of features for users to navigate their data from any angle.

In order to serve more data savvy job roles, the technology must offer intuitive means to defining report criteria, customizable data views, and data access at anytime via desktop or mobile devices. Interactive analytics based on a multi-dimensional cube approach is critical to slicing and dicing data, drill down, and other means of achieving the right analysis. Secondarily, a reporting environment that allows for search or shortcut navigation such as paging or drill-through allows users to make quick insights within a sea of data.

It is critical that users can access their data anywhere. The analytics provided in your core product need to offer a responsive design since it allows for a data conversation to spark at any time, any where. This allows users to create and view reports on any machine, browser or mobile device.

3 — Robust Delivery Paradigms

Product owners should not only worry about how customers are crafting reports, but also the delivery features offered that may best fit with their BI and analytics strategy.

You should seek an analytics solution that aims to support different types of users in an evolving technology landscape. This may range from supporting responsive design templates for on-the-go users to supporting a wide range of output formats (e.g., web reports in HTML 5, mobile reports, pixel perfect reporting, and others). Additionally, supported formats should include electronic feeds, Microsoft Office, email, even fax and others.

In addition to output formats, product owners should consider delivery features with respect to the rigors of the reporting environments. Organizations may need strong scheduled delivery for consistent metric updates. Others may require report bursting and subscription features. Lastly, It is also wise to evaluate the security model for delivery of sensitive information with access controls by user and group levels.

As with any software decision, product owners should pay attention to key features that fit with their strategy. Product owners should pay special attention to the type of users their organizations have, regulatory compliances they must meet, and a variety of other factors that require attention when crafting a BI and analytics strategy. Once a strategy is laid out, you can begin to understand what critical capabilities are necessary to meet your strategy and cater to the needs of all users in your organization.

 

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