If you own business software, you already know you need to add advanced analytics capabilities to your product. Customers, competitors and industry analysts like Gartner are all indicating that AI-driven analytics are table stakes now instead of a “nice to have” feature. Software products with embedded analytics have a competitive edge, and software vendors that don’t offer analytics are playing catchup.
Even if your target user focuses on transactional features, keep in mind that products are sold to the C-suite, not rank-and-file users, and executives demand a dashboard view. So, if your goal is to win larger accounts, reduce churn and/or take your customers to the cloud, you need an analytics strategy. That means deciding whether to build your own analytics or partner with an analytics platform provider.
Building Analytics as a DIY Project
Should you build your own analytics function? Software product developers know their own strengths and limitations, so the answer will depend on individual circumstances. But it is important to realize up front that the project won’t be confined to the initial build. There’s a consideration, and also the fact that as customer needs and platform capabilities evolve, analytics will have to adapt.
The ongoing work will typically require a dedicated group of engineers to handle maintenance and develop new analytics capabilities to adjust to changing needs. Building an analytics function also requires the ability to handle complex integration projects, and it involves deep expertise with data not just during the initial build but throughout the lifecycle of the analytics function.
Before opting for DIY analytics, it’s important to consider that you’ll need a strategy to manage security and ensure compliance with applicable regulations — from day one forward. You’ll also need to make collaboration simple and deliver all the functions users demand. The bottom line on DIY analytics is that it typically takes more than a year to get it right, and that’s just the beginning of the investment.
Partnering with a Vendor to Embed Analytics
Partnering with a vendor to embed an advanced analytics platform featuring AI and automation is a faster way to enhance your software’s functionality and appeal. And if you choose the right vendor, it’s also a safer bet. That’s because the quality of your software’s business intelligence affects the value proposition of your software overall, so it’s unwise to settle for mediocre analytics.
So, what should you look for in a vendor? An analytics vendor with knowledge, expertise, and experience in the space is a must, of course, so take a look at the track record. Examine the vendor’s customer base to make sure the potential partner is trusted by software enterprises worldwide. Look at the vendor’s commitment to innovation. Assess the basic functionality and the flexibility the vendor offers.
Also, look for a third-party platform that offers seamless integration so your users will experience the same look and feel that your product delivers when they use the application’s embedded analytics functions. Make sure you’ll be working with a flexible user interface, comprehensive APIs, and security integration so you can create a consistent user experience.
And speaking of security, another factor to consider when choosing an analytics platform provider is a strong commitment to the safe handling of data. You’re committed to safeguarding your customers’ data, so you need a partner with a multi-tenant and secure approach. Also, look for security integration functions that make it simple to achieve and maintain data security.
Promises to Keep
Customers are looking for more value in the data they collect, and by integrating analytics into your software product, you can deliver on the promise of data. You can build value around data with AI-driven automated analytics, offering insights that help your customers succeed, which will also generate value for your company as a provider of essential business intelligence.
Whether you choose to go it alone and build your own analytics function into your app or partner with a vendor to deliver a seamless, white-label experience, it’s important to settle on an analytics strategy as soon as possible. The pressure to deliver advanced analytics will only grow, and the sooner you commit to an analytics strategy, the better the customer experience you’ll provide.