embedded analytics

How to choose the right embedded analytics platform

As the digital economy becomes the economy, everyone that interacts with your business and products, from external customers, vendors, and partners to internal stakeholders benefits from having access to data. Requiring them to step out of their existing workflows and log in to a specific BI tool to do so, however, often means forgoing analytics altogether. 

Embedded analytics are a great way to integrate real time insights into the tools your users already leverage, whether it’s an existing customer facing application or an internal tool used by colleagues. With so many embedded platforms on the market, it can be daunting to figure out which one is best for your particular needs. By asking yourself a few simple questions about user experience, scale, flexibility, and cost, you’ll be able to narrow down the choices and find the perfect platform for embedding analytics into your application. Read on so you can make an informed decision when selecting an embedded analytics platform for your business.

What is an embedded analytics platform?

An embedded analytics platform refers to a software solution that allows businesses to integrate analytics and reporting functionalities directly into their applications, products, or services. Instead of leveraging or building separate analytics tools, an embedded analytics platform enables organizations to add capabilities like data visualizations, Liveboards, generative AI, and reporting capabilities to their existing software interfaces, providing users with rich, real-time insights in context, without the need to switch between different applications. This allows companies to build data-driven cultures, monetize data, and even build entirely new revenue streams with data apps. 

Benefits of using an embedded analytics platform

Embedded analytics have revolutionized the way organizations leverage data, build products, generate revenue, and retain customers. Let's explore the five main benefits in detail:

1. Empowering data-driven decision making

One of the most significant advantages of using an embedded analytics platform is its ability to empower data-driven decision making, both across an organization and beyond to customers, partners, and vendors. By making data insights readily available, organizations can foster a culture that values data-driven decision making. Embedding a self-service analytics experience within a product or service helps every user access and analyze data relevant to their roles without having to change processes, enabling them to make informed decisions based on objective insights rather than relying on intuition or guesswork. The ability to leverage data effectively empowers organizations to identify trends, spot opportunities, mitigate risks, and gain a competitive advantage in the market.

2. Enhanced data visualization and reporting

One of the primary benefits of using an embedded analytics platform is the ability to enhance data visualization and reporting capabilities. These platforms offer a wide array of visualization tools such as charts, graphs, maps, and dashboards. By embedding these visualizations directly into applications, users can easily interpret and understand complex data sets. Interactive data visualizations allow users to endlessly explore these visualizations, drill down into details, and uncover related, meaningful insights. Enhanced data visualization empowers users to communicate data effectively, leading to better informed decisions and actions.

3. Seamless integration and customization

Modern embedded analytics platforms, especially those that are part of the modern data stack,  offer seamless integration with existing applications or products. This enables organizations to bring the best, more innovative capabilities from across the data ecosystem, and expose them to users in the workflows they already utilize. Furthermore, these platforms often offer customization options, allowing organizations to tailor the analytics experience to their specific needs and branding. 

4. Increased user engagement and adoption

Embedding analytics can be an incredibly powerful part of a user engagement strategy. By embedding analytics directly into applications, organizations can give users more value, significantly increasing user engagement and adoption of analytics capabilities. Users no longer need to switch between multiple tools or platforms to access data insights. Instead, analytics functionalities are readily available within their familiar application environment. Ideally, the embedded analytics experience is so easy, every kind of user can intuitively leverage it without additional training. This convenience encourages users to explore and interact with a product more, leading to increased engagement, a higher adoption rate, and more robust data-driven decision making practices. With easy access to analytics in the tools they already know and love, users become more empowered to make informed decisions based on real-time insights.

5. Time and cost efficiency

Embedded analytics platforms offer significant time and cost efficiency benefits compared to building analytics capabilities from scratch. These platforms provide pre-built analytics components, including data connectors, visualization tools, and reporting functionalities, reducing the time and effort required to develop and maintain analytics capabilities. Further, by using the right embedded analytics tools, customers can get access to cutting edge technology from an organization purely focused on analytics, instead of having to continually build these capabilities internally, leaving them behind the innovation curve. By leveraging an embedded analytics platform, organizations can save development resources, reduce time-to-market, and allocate resources to other critical business areas. Additionally, these platforms often offer flexible pricing models, enabling organizations to scale their analytics capabilities while maintaining cost efficiency.

6. Monetize data

The most innovative organizations, such as Guidewire, Harri, and Verisk, have taken embedding analytics further. Instead of simply adding analytics to their products, they are turning this data into dollars. With the right embedded analytics platform, you can charge a premium for access to this analytics experience in your product or service, or build entirely new data apps that offer new paths to profits. The end result is greater data monetization, turning data from a cost center into a revenue generating engine. In fact, research from Product-led Alliance and ThoughtSpot found that 44% of product leaders expect revenue gains from embedding analytics. 

Key features of embedded analytics platforms

As apps take over the world, embedded analytics platforms have become increasingly popular to leverage data for informed decision-making, differentiate products, and grow revenue. These platforms offer a range of features that enable businesses to integrate analytics seamlessly into their applications and unlock the value of their data. Let's explore the key features of embedded analytics platforms:

Self-service reporting and dashboards

The best embedded analytics platforms empower users to explore data on their own, creating reports and dashboards without relying on technical expertise or the IT department. As opposed to more traditional embedded analytics tools that simply add charts or graphs, these new breed of platforms offer intuitive and user-friendly interfaces that enable business users to easily generate reports and visualize data through the ease of natural language processing and search. Users can ask and answer questions in natural language, customize the layout, choose specific metrics, apply filters, and even schedule automated reports. Self-service reporting puts the power of data analysis directly into the hands of end-users in the workflows they already use, enabling them to access insights quickly and make data-driven decisions, getting more value from the product or service.

Embedded data visualization

Effective data visualization is crucial for understanding and communicating insights derived from data. Embedded analytics platforms provide a wide range of visualization options, including charts and graphs like histograms and bar graphs, maps, and heatmaps. The most valuable of these platforms offer interactive visualization capabilities, meaning users can explore, interact, and drill into the underlying data without predefined drill paths or requiring technical skills. By embedding data visualization within their applications, businesses can enhance the user experience and enable stakeholders to grasp complex data easily.

Data integration and connectivity

One of the essential features of embedded analytics platforms is their ability to integrate and connect with various data sources. These platforms allow businesses to pull data from multiple databases, cloud storage, and third-party applications. They provide connectors, APIs, and data integration tools that facilitate the extraction, transformation, and loading of data, ensuring that the analytics platform has access to the most up-to-date and relevant information. 

AI analytics capabilities

Embedded analytics platforms go beyond basic reporting and visualization by offering AI analytics capabilities. These platforms provide features such as predictive analytics, machine learning algorithms, data mining, and statistical modeling. With this kind of augmented analytics, businesses can uncover hidden patterns, detect anomalies, forecast future trends, and make data-driven predictions. By embedding these capabilities into their applications, businesses can offer more sophisticated and value-added insights to their users.

Factors to consider when picking an embedded analytics platform

Whether you’re a SaaS company looking to reduce customer churn or a ecommerce company building an application to avoid stockout costs, embedded analytics platforms offer organizations the opportunity to leverage data within their applications to delight customers and users while creating new paths to money. With a variety of options available in the market, choosing the right embedded analytics platform requires careful consideration of several factors. Here are five key steps to follow to help you choose the most suitable platform for your business:

1. Assess your business needs

Begin by assessing your organization's specific needs and requirements. Consider the type of data you work with, the complexity of analytics required, and the intended audience for the embedded analytics, including whether this is for internal users, or something that will be used by external users like customers and partners. Determine the specific goals you want to achieve with the platform, such as improving operational efficiency, enhancing customer insights, or optimizing decision-making processes. This assessment will help you align the features and capabilities of the platform with your unique business objectives.

2. Evaluate integration capabilities

Ensure that the embedded analytics platform seamlessly integrates with your existing applications and technology stack. Assess whether the platform supports integration with your data sources, databases, APIs, and programming languages. Consider the ease of integration and the availability of resources and documentation provided by the platform vendor. A robust integration capability will enable smooth data flow and ensure compatibility with your existing infrastructure.

3. Consider scalability and performance

Scalability and performance are crucial factors to consider when choosing an embedded analytics platform, especially for new products where you don’t know how many users will eventually be leveraging your service. Evaluate the platform's ability to handle large volumes of data and support a growing number of users without requiring a similarly large investment of resources. Consider factors such as response time, query performance, and data processing capabilities. It is essential to choose a platform that can scale with your business needs and deliver fast and reliable analytics performance, even as your data and user base grow.

4. Analyze data governance and security features

Data governance and security are paramount in today's data-driven landscape. Analyze the security features offered by the embedded analytics platform. Look for features such as data encryption, user authentication, and role-based access controls to protect sensitive data. Assess whether the platform complies with relevant industry regulations and standards, such as GDPR or HIPAA, depending on your industry requirements. Additionally, consider features that support data governance, audit trails, and data privacy to ensure compliance and maintain data integrity.

5. Review support and training options

Evaluate the support, community, and training options provided by the embedded analytics platform vendor. Determine whether they offer reliable technical support, documentation, and resources to assist with implementation and troubleshooting. Consider the availability of training programs, tutorials, and user communities that can help your team effectively utilize the platform's features. A vendor that offers comprehensive support and training will facilitate a smoother implementation process and enable your team to make the most of the embedded analytics platform.

6. Ease of use

The end goal of embedding analytics is to make your products more efficient and valuable to users when, where, and how they already work. Embedding an analytics experience that requires technical skills inherently limits the potential pool of users. Instead, look for embedded analytics platforms that deliver a modern, intuitive analytics experience that’s as easy to use as your favorite consumer app. In doing so, you’ll be able to bring this analytics experience to as many users as possible.

Best practices for maximizing the value of an embedded analytics platform

Foster a data-driven culture

Creating a data-driven culture within your organization is crucial for maximizing the value of an embedded analytics platform. Encourage and empower employees to embrace data in their decision-making processes. Promote the use of data and analytics as a valuable resource for insights and problem-solving. Provide training and resources to enhance data literacy across departments, ensuring that employees understand how to interpret and leverage the analytics platform's capabilities. Foster a culture where data is seen as a strategic asset that drives innovation and growth.

Prioritize user experience and accessibility

User experience plays a significant role in the success of an embedded analytics platform. Ensure that the platform offers an intuitive and user-friendly interface, making it easy for users to access and interact with data. Consider the specific needs and skill levels of your users and design the platform accordingly. If your embedded analytics tools can only be used by data professionals, for example, you’re inherently limiting the number of individuals who can benefit from embedded analytics. Instead, focus on tools that enable your users to engage and find value with their existing skill level. Take this further, and provide comprehensive documentation, tutorials, and support resources to assist users in navigating the platform effectively. Additionally, focus on accessibility by incorporating features like responsive design and compatibility with assistive technologies, ensuring that users can access and benefit from the analytics platform regardless of their devices or abilities.

Encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing

Promote collaboration and knowledge sharing among users of the embedded analytics platform. Encourage teams to share insights, dashboards, and reports with each other, fostering a culture of collaborative decision-making. Implement features within the platform that enable users to comment, collaborate, and share findings. Encourage cross-functional teams to work together and leverage the platform's capabilities to solve complex problems and drive innovation. By fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing, you can maximize the value of the embedded analytics platform by harnessing the collective intelligence of your organization.

Continuously monitor and optimize performance

Regularly monitor and optimize the performance of your embedded analytics platform to ensure optimal efficiency and usability. Keep track of query response times, loading speeds, and overall system performance. Identify any bottlenecks or areas for improvement and take proactive measures to optimize data processing, caching, and visualization rendering. Continuously gather user feedback to identify pain points or areas of dissatisfaction and address them promptly. By monitoring and optimizing performance, you can enhance the user experience, increase productivity, and ensure that the analytics platform remains responsive and reliable.

Stay up to date with emerging trends and technologies

The field of analytics and data-driven technologies is constantly evolving. It is essential to stay updated with emerging data trends, advancements, and new features in the embedded analytics space. Regularly evaluate the platform's roadmap and release notes provided by the vendor to understand the latest updates and enhancements. Stay connected with industry communities, attend conferences, and engage with experts to keep abreast of emerging technologies and best practices. By staying updated, you can leverage new features and functionalities that can enhance the capabilities and value of your embedded analytics platform.

Start encouraging users to explore and interact with data 

Embedded analytics platforms provide organizations with an efficient way to uncover insights and empower their users to efficiently explore their data. With modern-day embedded analytics platforms, selecting the best platform for your organization’s needs is easier than ever before. They allow you to embed your interactive analytics content in any application, giving you a unified approach for exploring centuries of data across the entire enterprise. After outlining the benefits and best practices of leveraging an embedded analytics platform, such as ThoughtSpot, it is clear that taking advantage of such a product offers myriad advantages that can help fuel decision-making and enable fact-based discussions when presented with any kind of challenge or opportunity. Take advantage of new technologies by signing up for a ThoughtSpot free trial today and see how easy it is to get started with using the power of embedded analytics.