Look for These Must-Have Features in Your Next Embedded Analytics Platform
Senior Content Marketing Manager, Sigma
62% of organizations say that self-service business intelligence is “critical” or “very important,” according to a Dresner Research study. But only 14% of companies make data analytics widely accessible to their employees. Why the discrepancy? There’s a strong desire for insights to inform daily decisions, but organizations struggle to implement self-service analytics.
Embedded analytics play a key role in democratizing data access and driving BI adoption outside of data and BI teams. Embedded analytics tools have an average 59% adoption rate compared to the 27% average adoption rate of BI tools without embedding. But, of course, there’s a wide range of embedded analytics platforms, each with its own set of capabilities. Some platforms are simply “bolt-on,” incrementally improving convenience. Others offer a seamless experience, allowing users to engage with all the functionality of the platform wherever the dashboard is embedded — you can set permissions to make available a variety of capabilities for each user type. And there are several levels in between.
But to fully benefit from what embedded analytics has to offer, you’ll need certain features in your analytics software. Here’s what to look for in an embedded analytics platform to ensure your people can use it effectively.
What to look for in dashboard functionality
The dashboard is where the insight magic happens — or not. Which is why choosing the right tool matters. Team members of all types must be able to easily accomplish what they need to in the dashboard, no matter where it appears. Four specific features are essential.
Easily set up the dashboard
Many embedded analytics tools provide pre-built dashboards for common analytics workflows like marketing campaign tracking, sales pipeline generation, and customer satisfaction reporting. You should be able to take advantage of pre-built templates and layouts to quickly set up the dashboard the way you want it to appear. However, you’ll also want the ability to to make custom additions and embed images, videos, and URLs into the dashboard.
Technical and non-technical users can explore data
Dashboards offering high-level views are usually the starting point of the analytics process. But they shouldn’t be the end. Your technical users need to be able to work in SQL, of course. But business users should be able to explore the data to answer follow-up questions and “what-if” questions on their own — without having to learn SQL skills. They need capabilities like parameters, filters, and the ability to explore underlying data using a familiar interface that automatically generates the necessary SQL in the background. Involving users across your sales, marketing, operations, product, and other teams is the only way to achieve a data-driven culture where day-to-day decisions are made based on real-time data.
Dashboards automatically refresh data
Working from real-time data is essential in today’s fast-moving business environment. If you’re operating on old data that’s changed in the time since it was loaded into the dashboard, you’re crippling your decision-making process. Dashboards should automatically refresh so data is continually updated. You don’t want to depend on people remembering to get fresh data.
Team workspaces make relevant data easily available
While team workspaces aren’t in the category of embedding functionality, they’re important for the effective use of analytics. Knowing where to go to find the most useful and relevant dashboards is critical. Users also need to be able to build dashboards and reports without relying on the BI team — otherwise, you’ll experience bottlenecks that prevent timely access to insights. If you have a variety of datasets from different sources available, people should know at a glance which data is relevant to their team. They should also be able to easily see which data is trusted and endorsed by BI teams.
What to look for in sharing functionality
Now let’s dive into what you’ll need when it comes to embedding and sharing capabilities. These features drive the convenience, efficiency, and collaboration that companies want when implementing embedded analytics.
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You can reuse and repurpose dashboards
In order to arrive at informed insights, you need input from a variety of people. For example, if you’re aiming to improve your proposal process, you’ll want to analyze the data around the sales funnel. Members of the sales team who work with prospects day in and day out have a perspective that the numbers alone can’t convey — they must be involved in the conversation. For this reason, team members need to be able to share their work with one another. They should be able to build upon one another’s work as well. The most valuable analytics is collaborative.
Dashboards embed into applications
One of the key benefits of embedded analytics is the improved convenience and efficiency that it adds to workflows. But you can’t experience this benefit fully without the capability to embed functional dashboards into an array of applications. You should be able to embed dashboards and visualizations in the software, systems, and apps your team uses frequently. And users should not need to create separate accounts in your analytics tool. They should be able to do everything from within the third-party application — especially important for people outside your organization (such as partners and customers) who are participating in the analytics process.
Dashboards embed into web pages
For public sharing of automatically-refreshing dashboards, you need the ability to embed them on web pages. These public-facing websites may include partner sites, news publications, and industry publications. You want to make the embedding process as easy as possible for the website owners/managers — your tool should facilitate this for you.
Security is primary
No one needs to be told that security is a must-have. Your compliance and governance processes depend on it. Beyond the expected security certifications like CSA, SOC, GDPR, etc., the analytics platform you choose should provide certain security features. You need role-based permissions that allow you to restrict access as needed. Additionally, you should be able to select what parts of the dashboard or data sets are visible, either publicly or when a user is logged in. And signed embedding functionality ensures data only goes where it should go, and viewers only see what they’re meant to see.
Evaluate ROI When Considering Embedded Analytics Platforms
You’ll certainly be able to experience some of the benefits of embedded analytics with a platform lacking one or two of these features. But these must-haves allow you to make the most of embedded analytics. When you’re considering the features you need, evaluate the ROI of each. What capabilities would help you best achieve your goals, and what will the return be on each of those capabilities? Knowing this information will make the process of choosing a platform simpler.
Learn more about what to look for in an embedded analytics platform and how to implement embedded analytics effectively — see our Definitive Guide to Embedded Analytics, Dashboards, and Reports.