End users increasingly want more from their applications. If they see a data dashboard, they want to be able to work with the data -- zoom in, aggregate it, look at it from different angles -- with the press of a button.
And enterprises want to put this power into the hands of their customers and their employees to help them make better decisions. But creating interactive dashboards and advanced analytics functionality isn't as easy as generating a static table or chart and embedding that into a view or webpage.
And even when enterprises have employees with the right skill sets on staff, customizing dashboards and reports can take a lot of work, Gartner analyst Joe Antelmi said.
"I have seen examples of companies who had 30 developers responsible for building all their visuals on their websites using programming languages and libraries and replaced them with a much smaller team of maybe a couple of people who used embedded analytics platforms," he said.
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That's because embedded analytics platforms abstract out all the detailed work, he said.
"Instead of having to program all the functions of the visualizations, you can use a drag-and-drop interface and preset commands and filters to visualize the information you want," Antelmi said.
Embedded analytics allows companies to make rich functionality available to everyone who needs it, when they need it -- functionality that was previously only available to a limited group of people who had access to a business intelligence tool and had the skills to use it.
That's a compelling business benefit. And embedded analytics examples exist across businesses.
"A lot of decisions that workers have to make are data driven," said Chandana Gopal, research director for business analytics at IDC.
Karen PanettaIEEE fellow and dean of graduate education, school of engineering, Tufts University
But not every employee who can benefit from business intelligence can be expected to learn to use the full business intelligence platform. Embedding specific functionality at the exact place where employees need to access it can make those employees a lot more productive.
In fact, for some business intelligence vendors, the embedded functionality accounts for a large chunk of their business revenues, she said.
"Take Sisense, for example," she said. "Fifty percent of their business comes from the embedded use case. Talking to vendors, we get a sense that this is a growing market."
One common use of embedded analytics is to take a business intelligence platform that a company is already using, such as Tableau, Microsoft's Power BI or Qlik, and combine it with an enterprise software system or employee portal.
"We're seeing embedded analytics a lot in sales and marketing, [in] supply chain management, in operations," said Gopal.
Say, for example, a sales team wants to sell a new product, said Karen Panetta, IEEE fellow and dean of graduate education, school of engineering, at Tufts University. "Here's the data of all our customers, aggregated. Here are the different areas of types of products or changes in need for different customer bases. This is how it's going to impact them."
With embedded analytics, sales employees don't have to go and create spreadsheets and make their own pivot tables, she said.
"They can look at different data quickly without having to be an expert user in a software product," Panetta said. "They can run queries without having to go back to the data team."
Embedded analytics examples go across different industry verticals and functional areas, said Dan Yu, director of AI analytics and engineering at KPMG.
According to a survey released in December by Infragistics, 25% of respondents said embedded analytics' greatest use was to help users make better business decisions, followed by improving productivity at 22% and increasing sales or revenue at 18%.
The most common business use of embedded analytics was in ERP software at 29%, closely followed by CRM at 28%. Marketing automation, collaboration, HR and e-commerce tied for third place, with 24% each. Embedded analytics was used for help with advertising insights by 8% of respondents.
Enterprises aren't just embedding analytics in software used by their own employees. It's also increasingly showing up in mobile apps, customer portals and other applications designed to be used by customers.
According to Infragistics, 36% of developers said embedded analytics increases customer satisfaction, 23% said it makes their apps more visually appealing and 21% said it helps create a competitive advantage.
"For external users, we often see it embedded in the form of web apps, either delivered in a desktop or mobile format," said Ken Seier, chief architect of data and AI at Insight, a technology consulting and system integration firm. "When you go to your banking portal, you can get charts and graphs to help you understand your banking."
Another common embedded analytics example in customer-facing applications is in the travel industry, Gartner's Antelmi said.
When users visit Kayak or Google Flights, there's a lot of data for them to wade through, and having easy analytics at their fingertips can help.
"I have the ability to filter the flights that I want, the times that I want," he said. "Users are really compelled by that type of experience."
That puts pressure on other enterprises to keep up.
"Customers don't want to go back to an experience where they have to look through a static set of options," he said. "There's an expectation that we can filter to the data we want."