What do embedded analytics offer that only your software application vendor can truly understand?
When analytics are integrated in everyday financial processes and workflows, users can work smarter and more efficiently in the applications they rely on every day. This is especially important for finance, sales, and HR teams that need timely visual and interactive access to the kinds of data they work with in their business units.
Not surprisingly, the market for embedded analytics is experiencing rapid growth as software vendors extend their applications for end users who want insights in the context of how they work.
What are embedded analytics?
Analytics, some in the form of static dashboards, started showing up in software applications years ago. The tools were complex and unintuitive even by IT’s standards. They required that IT be trained in the specifics of each vendor’s proprietary solution, and they required IT to script or code to make them work in their environment.
As their natural owners, IT served the business users who funneled their questions and requests through them—and then waited. Users would have to submit a ticket to IT, and by the time they received the information it was usually stale.
The software developer’s strategy of placing a dashboard as a separate tab on a toolbar was an attempt to short-circuit this. While business users were ready for embedded analytics, legacy business intelligence and software applications were not.
The software ran atop different architectures, a work-around for the cost and performance limitations of the antiquated hardware they were built to use. They each used their own separate database. That created a significant problem: The story the data in a static dashboard was telling you didn’t necessarily match what the data in the business application said. Users, therefore, didn’t trust the data.
Even the most advanced approaches at the time were constrained by a legacy architecture. You may have no longer needed an engineering background to use an embedded report wizard. However, someone with knowledge of the software needed to create reports and send them to the end users. Not exactly self-service.
The foundation for effective analytics
Modern software architecture is cloud-based and leverages the fastest memory, computing, and storage options widely available today. Business applications and analytics run in-memory. They share the same architectural foundation. Both use the same data so the answers to business questions are consistent. This is changing the game for analytics. As more business users rely on software applications to do their jobs, the conversation has shifted from whether analytics are included in an application to how well embedded the analytics are, the variety of analytics that are embedded, and if business users can use them without needing IT assistance or business intelligence expertise.
Make rapid decisions or lose precious time
Effective analytics are intuitive, deeply embedded within the application where users do their daily work, both powerful and easy to use, and take many forms to satisfy all preferences. When application vendors treat the capabilities and placement of analytics in their applications with the same importance they do other features—putting the right type of business functionality where it makes the most sense for the task at hand—users win. Users can select from any dimension to answer their specific questions, visualize predictions on the same page where they are making business decisions, or highlight numbers on a data-entry sheet to see them charted, all leading to smarter decisions faster.
Consider that the average manager makes 3 billion decisions a year. To align with this overwhelming number, analytics must be intuitive, include seamless access to relevant, real-time data, be available in the context of how business users work, and be optimized for their specific work tasks.
Do analytics rank high on your vendor’s 2018 priority list?
When application vendors don’t consider analytics to be core to their product, they rely on a third-party vendor’s analytics product and integrate the two as best they can. It’s easy to tell which software application vendors believe analytics are a core expertise within their organizations. Just ask them whether their analytics come from a third-party vendor or are developed in-house. If they depend on a vendor, then analytics doesn’t rank as one of their software’s most essential elements.
Ingraining analytics into your everyday workflow
Meanwhile, these days, without analytics, businesses cannot keep up with the pace of change. They’re increasingly under pressure to be data-driven just to stay in the game. Analytics is no longer a differentiator that separates one company’s ability to compete from another. Every company has them. Now businesses are focused on using them effectively. As such, companies are ingraining analytics into the everyday workflow of the organization.
As companies up the ante for analytics in their companies, the application vendors whose software they rely on must do the same. Its time to be asking your software application vendor where analytics rank on its priority list and see if it matches with yours.