Improving your user experience: The role of analytics in applications

We live in an age of applications. From fitness apps telling us how much we’re moving to our favourite retailers giving us the ability to shop on the go, applications have become integral to our day-to-day activities. The variety of simple-to-use, feature-rich applications in our personal lives has been raising our expectations for the capabilities and usability of the applications we use in the workplace. 

This balance of application dominance and user expectations means that anyone developing a business application today has to keep many elements of what makes consumer applications successful front of mind, optimising the experience for end users. After all, whether you’re an IT manager overseeing an internal application for employees only or an OEM development team releasing a commercial product, if your application fails to engage users, grow adoption, or prove its value with a positive ROI, it risks extinction.

One of the most common ways teams are delivering value in modern applications is by embedding analytics capabilities. This is due in large part to the ubiquity of analytics in our everyday applications. 

Both as business users and consumers, many of us use analytics in some shape or form every day, sometimes without even realising it. Analytics gives us a way to make information easily understandable without having to wade through mountains of data manually. Instead, many of our modern applications now give us data insights at our fingertips with the push of a few buttons. This is an improvement over the analytics experience even just five years ago, in which it was more common to have to leave the applications people already use in order to use a different system or tool to analyse information. This traditional analytics process feels like a waste of time, which will ultimately frustrate users and may cause them to look for new solutions.  

Lately, many application teams have seen the benefits of embedded analytics in improving their user experiences while increasing end-user adoption and growing revenue. Companies are realising that, unlike standalone BI solutions, embedded analytics keeps users in the applications they use every day and puts data in the context of the solutions people already use.

In the new 2017 State of Embedded Analytics Report—the fifth annual trend report on the subject—Logi Analytics surveyed over 500 product managers, software engineers, and members of application teams. According to the report, embedded analytics has never been more pervasive: 93 per cent of respondents are currently embedding analytics in their applications. That’s up from 78 per cent last year.

Why is embedded analytics so popular? Because users want insights in context, not in separate applications. According to a survey on adoption of analytics solutions released earlier this year, 84 per cent of business users want access to analytics within the applications they’re already using. But 66 per cent of users say they found themselves switching from their usual business apps to separate analytics tools to get the data or analysis needed.

When users have to leave their usual applications to analyse data in a standalone tool, those analytics solutions simply won’t be used. That’s one of the primary reasons embedded analytics is so appealing: Embedded analytics solutions have three times the adoption rate of standalone BI tools, as we’ll explore more in the next section. 

1.       Better Adoption than Traditional BI. Where adoption of standalone self-service tools has hovered around 20 per cent for the past three years, adoption of embedded analytics is higher than ever this year at 60 per cent. Whether a company is releasing commercial software or an internal application for employees, they know that embedded analytics solves the adoption challenges that have plagued standalone data discovery tools.

2.       Increases Time Spent in the Application. What’s the ultimate gauge of engaging users? Measuring time spent in the application. After embedding analytics, 84 per cent of respondents say time spent in their application went up.

3.       Adds Value to the Application. What per centage of the overall value of their applications would respondents assign to embedded analytics? This year, they estimate the value of embedded analytics at 54 per cent—up from 45 per cent last year. This growth demonstrates the value that both users and product teams are realising from embedded analytics.

4.       Improves the User Experience. Nearly all companies agree that a successful application starts with a great user experience. When it comes to embedded analytics, 95 per cent of respondents say it improves their customer satisfaction and 98 per cent agree that it improves the overall user experience for their application.

5.       Contributes to Revenue Growth. Ninety-eight per cent of respondents said embedded analytics contributes to revenue growth. It also helps application teams improve their win rate (96 per cent) and differentiate their solutions from competitors (94 per cent).

Given all these benefits, it’s no surprise that application teams are quickly replacing traditional standalone BI tools with embedded analytics capabilities. After all, by encouraging users to spend more time in these applications, they’re placing more value on the experiences the applications deliver and helping improve user satisfaction. This is ultimately critical if you want to improve user retention levels, as it’s well known that individuals are much more likely to continue to utilise applications if they enjoy using them.

So is embedded the future of our application economy? It certainly looks that way, as everyone from sales and marketing teams to finance and legal now expect to easily and quickly see analytics for the data they are using every day. With this boom in demand, it’s time more development teams woke up to the reality of embedding analytics within applications. After all, the application market is too competitive for you to be a laggard. 

Tom Cahill, VP EMEA Logi Analytics
Image Credit: IT Pro Portal