8 Things to Consider When Choosing an Embedded Analytics Vendor
Selecting an embedded analytics vendor is not an easy task. Learn how make the best decision and ensure you invest in a solution that will make an impact.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
Choosing an embedded analytics vendor is not an easy task. There are so many solutions available on the market that it is overwhelming. How can you make the best decision and ensure you invest in a solution that is really going to make an impact?
The truth is that there is no straight answer. In fact, the right answer is a combination of a couple of right answers, and of course, your specific business needs.
So, when choosing an embedded analytics vendor, here’s what to take into consideration:
1. Architecture of the Embedded Analytics Solution
The architecture that the embedded solution was built on can make or break the entire user experience and implementation process. Application architecture refers to the techniques and patterns used to design and build an application. With this in mind, you should be looking for an embedded solution to invest in that was built on modern architecture.
In the embedded analytics space, that means that when integrating an analytics solution into your existing application, it is of imperative importance that the software flows seamlessly without adding additional weight and complexity. Many of the embedded analytics vendors built standalone BI tools and then molded them into an embedded offering. That type of solution is far from ideal and it can add additional requirements and complications to your back-end system.
Following that thought, the solution that will flow seamlessly is purpose-built to be embedded. So, when choosing an embedded analytics vendor to go with, make sure to ask these two questions:
- Is the solution built on modern architecture?
- Is the solution purpose-built for embedded?
And in addition to being purpose-built for embedded analytics, below are a couple of things to keep in mind when gathering information about vendor’s architecture:
- Does the vendor offer native SDKs? SDK or software development kit is a collection of software development tools that help developers integrate their apps with embedded analytics software. The native SDK utilizes the specific features of each platform and provides a seamless user experience for creating, editing, and annotating dashboards.
- Does the vendor support your tech stack? It is not enough to say that the vendor to support your tech stack is important — it's paramount. You need a solution that will plug into your front- and back-end technologies, whether that is React, Java, .NET Core, Angular, or another optoin — or less is a dead end.
- Is this a cloud or on-premises solution? Cloud and on-premises solutions both have their pros and cons, so you first need to decide what kind of solution will best fit your needs. On-premises solutions give you full control of everything (including your data security), implementation takes much longer, and maintenance is in your hands — not to mention that you need the expertise for all these things. On the other side, cloud solutions are more accessible, more affordable, their deployment is very fast, and you can rest assured that everything is taken care of for you, including your data security.
2. Supported Data Sources
No matter if you’re in the banking, manufacturing, or retail industries, one thing is for sure — you collect data about your customers and business from various different places. Without a tool to help you understand and utilize your data, much of it will go to waste.
A good embedded analytics vendor that is worth investing in will support a wide range of data sources. When you’re able to connect to your data regardless of where it is stored — CRMs, spreadsheets, on-premises databases, etc. — you can bring all your data together into one view and one location for a more comprehensive analysis. By being able to see the complete picture, your users will be able to extract actionable insights from their data and improve their decision-making process.
3. Range of Embedded Analytics Visualizations Available
Once you connect to your data, visualizations will help you convey its meaning. Data visualizations are the backbone of any analytics solution, and the more visualizations that are available to users to choose from, the better. Charts, graphs, maps, and other data visualizations make it easier for users to understand data, extract actionable insights from it, guide the decision-making process, analyze risk, communicate a story, and so much more.
The data visualizations benefits are tremendous; however, many vendors provide only basic visualizations as part of their offering. This is not enough. You need to be able to choose from a rich library of data visualizations such as column, line, or combo to more advanced visualizations such as treemap or geospatial mapping.
In addition to a rich library of data visualizations, users need to have the ability to bring all these visualizations into one comprehensive dashboard, as well as create custom visualizations.
An embedded analytics vendor that allows users to create custom visualizations is a vendor worth consideration. Although the different types of data visualizations work for many different use cases, your specific business might need a unique one. Having the opportunity to create your own unique visualization is a strong advantage for every vendor that can offer it to you.
4. Customization Opportunities
How easy is it to customize the embedded solution so it looks and feels like the rest of your application? When the analytics users feel like it doesn’t belong as part of the app, the user experience and customer loyalty begin to dramatically drop. To avoid that, the better embedded analytics vendors are offering white labeling as a solution.
White labeling is the ability to embed reports, dashboards, and visuals to match your unique application's overall brand theme, including fonts, colors, theming, dialogs, etc. When this is in place, users won’t spot a difference and get distracted, but instead, they will focus on the benefits of the analytics solution.
5. Embedded Analytics Features
The best embedded analytics solutions offer a lot more than data visualizations and customization opportunities. The features and functionalities that a given solution offers are the tools that will help you leverage the full potential of your data and utilize it in the right ways.
The process of choosing an embedded analytics vendor will become easier when you can stack up a few different vendors' futures against each other. Here are the top 6 embedded analytics features that you should be looking for:
- Self-service: The self-service feature refers to the processes and tools used to empower users to analyze large amounts of data, build custom dashboards, and create reports independently without relying on your BI or IT experts.
- Dashboard linking: Link one visualization or dashboard to another dashboard or a URL. With dashboard linking you can pass parameters and filters through between dashboards to make drilling down to additional insights easy.
- Machine learning: Enables systems to learn and predict outcomes without explicit programming and helps answer key business questions intelligently. This kind of technology can be used for various different kinds of purposes, from automating credit risk testing for banks and customers to detecting patterns associated with diseases and health conditions
- In-context editing: Users can make edits directly within your application without the need to leave it and go to another app. They can make the edits they want and then easily push the updates to a server.
- Data blending: The data blending features allow you to find insights easier by bringing multiple data sources together into one visualization for a deeper, side by side view.
- Statistical functions: This feature helps you operate on the data in a much more data-driven and targeted way. For example, some of the key statistical functions — such as outlier detection, time series forecasting, and linear regression — help you detect points in your data that are anomalies and differ from much of a data set, make predictions on future values based on historical data and trends, and visually see trends in your data by finding the relationship between two variables.
How much do you trust the vendor?
You will give the vendor you decide to partner with power over your data, so you should take this very seriously. For example, if you’re in the health industry and collecting sensitive data about your customers’ health, you want to be a million percent sure that the vendor is trustworthy and isn’t going to sell that data to third parties or collect it for themselves.
As mentioned briefly in the article above, if you opt for an on-premises solution, then you’ll have complete control over your security. However, you shouldn’t forget that embedded analytics providers must comply with high data security standards, the quality of which is assessed by SSL security certificates. But a certificate alone shouldn’t be enough to convince you to invest.
Some vendors will require you to replicate and maintain two separate security models. However, this is not ideal as it requires lots of resources from your side to set up and maintain the multiple versions. Choose a solution that can work with your software security model.
Also, look for multifactor authentication, role-based, and user-based security, as well as multi-tenancy.
And another thing that is worth mentioning and knowing is that vendors that use iFrames are more vulnerable to hacker attacks. They rely on security by obfuscation, which means that they don’t have any security guards around their iFrame other than an extremely long and complex URL. Once this URL is hacked, the hacker gains full access to your customers' data. Given the importance of your customers' data, you better avoid that kind of solution.
Pricing is one of the main things to consider when choosing an embedded analytics vendor. In the embedded analytics space, you’ll find that most vendors keep their pricing a secret and charge you unpredictable costs like usage and users, for example. This is a sales tactic, aimed at filling the vendor pockets.
Those vendors that charge per user or usage basis are trying to maximize the price of the product while leaving no money on the table. But what if your app skyrockets in popularity and suddenly your
embedded analytics costs skyrocket as well? You want to know upfront what your costs will be. And be confident that they won’t escalate as your app sales increase.
That is why the best thing to do is to go with a vendor that has a 100% transparent pricing model that won’t escalate as your app sales increase. Or in other words, get fixed pricing that won’t come with any surprises, hidden fees, usage, or user tiers.
While we can assume any vendor pitching themselves as an embedded analytics provider will have good knowledge of this technology, it is worth digging deeper to find out more about the vendor's expertise. Has the company received any awards for its work? Are they well-established and respected in the ABI space and community? Things like third-party review sites and forums could be helpful to source that kind of information.
Hopefully, our list of things to consider when choosing an embedded analytics vendor will help you find the perfect match for your unique business needs and requirements. There are many solutions on the market, yet none of them are the same. Be cautious, ask the right questions, and don’t settle for anything less than the best. The choice might be difficult and might take a while, but we guarantee that in the end, the right choice will be worth it.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.