The value of embedded analytics is unmistakable. Application teams that embed dashboards and reports drive revenue, reduce customer churn, and differentiate their software from the competition. While embedded dashboards create real value, they can also come with real costs. These costs are not always visible when companies plan for their analytics offering but can significantly impact production, scale, and the speed of bringing analytics to market.
Application teams can choose between two development approaches to embed analytics: building what they need with the help of UI component libraries or buying a solution from an analytics vendor. Following along as we see why buying is better.
Market Drivers and Current Trends
Organizations are increasing focus on the potential value within big data, seeking to better understand their customers and improve their products. In today’s environment, big data enables organizations to derive insights, forecast trends, and find new efficiencies using flexible and highly customized visual dashboards and reports. The challenge is collecting all that data into one place and making it understandable.
Businesses typically turn to standalone tools to extract and analyze their data. However, these tools can lack customization, integration, and functionality, which drains your internal resources and disrupts delivery timelines as employees try to work with imperfect tools. According to Forbes, almost three-quarters of entrepreneurs are already using big data to try and pull ahead of the competition. This means it will take a proactive and long-term approach to technology investments to generate and maintain a competitive advantage.
Build or Buy at a Glance
So far, we’ve traveled all around the perimeters of the two main strategies for embedding analytics tools in your application or software. You can either build the solution internally (using open-source UI components) or access an established analytics platform (by outsourcing the development problem to an external team). Here’s both routes in a nutshell:
Building: While the in-house route gives you total control over the project, like its scope, budget, and timeline, it does so at a cost. According to ESG, developing an in-house embedded analytics solution could take up to 20% of your resources over three months. Of course, this figure assumes your analytics solution isn’t delayed and doesn’t require more resources, so there is considerable margin for error. Companies traditionally build their own analytics solutions when they:
- Have significant IT resources to build, test, correct, and maintain an analytics platform.
- Have a flexible schedule, or their time to market isn’t a priority currently.
- Only need basic reporting tools and a UI with limited functionality.
Buying: With outsourced analytics solutions, there’s no need to worry about product maintenance, training, or documentation, since vendors extensively document their platforms. Instead, your software has analytics available to internal users at a moment’s notice that is ready to scale with their needs. What’s more, you can reinvest the time and cost savings into more productive or pressing business areas and maximize your developers’ potential. Firms turn to commercially available solutions when they:
- Need a competitive BI tool on a tight timeline.
- Need their analytics to scale reliably with their app or software.
- Can’t let future integrations, feature upgrades, or security flaws from third-party UI components risk their app or software crashing.
Clearly, buying has more and better pros than building.
What Are the Hidden Costs and Challenges?
Effect on Core Application Development
Time spent building analytics with UI components is time taken away from your core application. Choosing to build analytics yourself takes time, and you end up replicating capabilities you could have easily bought from a vendor. This distracts your product team from focusing on core features and mission-critical functionality. The opportunity cost is the value lost by not advancing the roadmap and the core IP of your application.
As your application becomes more successful, your users will want more capabilities. An analytics development platform helps future-proof your analytics and makes it easy to incorporate modern features such as self-service analysis, predictive analytics, write-back and workflow capabilities, and interactivity with parameters passing between the host application and embedded analytics. If you build, you’ll be forced to research and develop each new capability one at a time, which delays every product update.
Time to Market
Unless your requirements are limited to standard charts and reports, an analytics development platform will be faster to buy, deploy, maintain, enhance, and upgrade than building analytics on your own. A platform supports everything from basic features to advanced capabilities, including inexhaustible data visualization controls visualizations, reports, dashboards, self-service analytics, workflow, write-back, and predictive analytics. And because a platform leverages your existing investments in data, security, and servers, you can develop, test, and deploy faster than building.
Maintenance and Support Concerns
The need for high-quality business intelligence holds the key to sustainable digital transformation and effective business growth for your end-users. Enterprise IT departments and SaaS providers can empower users with the tools and skills necessary to understand their business needs. Unfortunately, developing BI solutions internally can be difficult since it requires additional time and resources from your already stretched in-house talent pool. Simply put, users’ shifting priorities and sprawling needs mean that development teams can be consumed by the workload of implementing analytics into your app.
Your Best Option Is Buying
Again, buying outperforms building since it has fewer challenges and lower costs. Now, let’s see why embedded analytics is a must-have for your team.
Why Analytics Is the Path to Consistency and Stability
Stability and Enhancements
Relying on third-party UI component libraries introduces risk when it comes to integration and upgrades. You have no guarantee all the UI component libraries you choose will work together forever or have consistent versioning, and a single upgrade may lead to regression issues. An analytics development platform ensures your application is always on solid footing. Every capability is thoroughly tested and works seamlessly together, now and with future versions.
Many UI components come with complicated pricing structures that can hinder your application growth. If one UI component prices on a per-user basis, costs can quickly skyrocket as your business grows. Also keep in mind that using multiple libraries means managing multiple different licensing policies. On the other hand, platforms have predictable and easy-to-understand licensing structures that scale with your business needs.
Support and documentation vary widely from component to component. Even with online communities, if something goes wrong, you need to solve the problem yourself (if you can solve it at all). Platforms offer reliable documentation and support to ensure your application is always running.
Some of your developers will inevitably leave the company. What happens when they have all the institutional knowledge of your analytics solution? It will have a serious impact on your ability to maintain or upgrade your embedded analytics. Unlike UI components, platforms are thoroughly documented, so anyone can build, maintain, and enhance the embedded analytics with minimal disruption. A platform vendor provides you with access to experts, technical support, product training, and documentation to accelerate ramp-up and keep your application supported throughout its lifecycle.
Key Takeaways for Offering Embedded Analytics
The Win-Win for Your End-Users
Embedded analytics offers a solution. By focusing their software’s functionality, commercial analytics providers deliver best-of-breed data tools that would take in-house developers months to develop and distract them from the core priorities of their role. Instead, analytics solutions from third-party vendors can expedite the process of giving your users the insights they need.
The result is a mutually beneficial arrangement for all parties involved. End-users can access data analysis, visualization, and reporting tools to measure their performance and quickly share updates across departments. SaaS providers and enterprise IT teams can add value to their digital and third-party analytics providers can focus on creating accessible analytics tools for your end-users. Learn more about these wins at insightsoftware.com/logi-analytics/.
For an even deeper dive into what’s right for you, download the eBook Building vs Buying Analytics, an in-depth look into the benefits of embedded analytics solutions, and how to integrate them into your tech stack from our friends at .