Is there a difference between embedded analytics and business intelligence? We seem to use these terms interchangeably, but they are in fact very different.
Let’s start with business intelligence.
Business intelligence is comprised of technologies, systems, people and processes that allow organization to analyze data. This data is used to guide strategic and operational decisions. Business intelligence can use a variety structured and unstructured data and aggregate internal and external data sources to provide insight that could not be gained from one data source.
Business intelligence is a necessity, but often fails to deliver the intended value because it is not integrated with a user’s ideal workflow. People need to leave the applications they used every day to gain insights through a separate set of tools. So, embedded analytics came to save the day.
Embedded analytics is BI and reporting that is integrated directly into a business application or platform (think your marketing automation tools, EMRs, CRMs etc.) Embedded analytics integrates reports, dashboards and data visualizations directly into daily user workflows and displays the analytics users need to see inside their application. The ability to view data in context puts insight at the point of decision, and ultimately, leads to better outcomes.
In short, business intelligence gives you insights across many systems but without the context needed to act. Embedded analytics gives you actionable insights directly in the tools you use every day. Not surprisingly, embedding analytics has been a priority for software companies and the organizations that use their platforms.
Approaches to Embedding Reporting and Analytics
There are several approaches to embedding analytics within an application. There are many factors to take into consideration when figuring out which type of embedded analytics is best not just for your application, but also for your end users. Here are three different flavors of embedding:
- Launching a standalone application – One typical way to implement reporting and dashboard functionality is to contain it in a separate website which is launched from within a page or “analytics” tab in the application. While this brings analytics closer to where the user is making decisions, it doesn’t seamlessly integrate into application workflows, and may require separate signons and security models.
- Iframing – Another common way to embed analytics is to display them inside of inline frames (separate HTML documents inserted in a web page.) In these type of solutions, a report element or dashboard viewer is iframed into part of the host application. Users can view report data and may have some limited ability to interact with it, by changing filters, for example. Reliance on iframes tends to lead to a poor user experience and may introduce security issues.
- Embedding at the code level – When an application is embedded at the code level, the BI solution’s code integrates into the host application’s code base. The two applications and the associated user experiences become one, allowing for a more seamless analytics experience.
Benefits of Embedding Analytics
Most tools and applications now offer some level of reporting and analytics in their platform. But, because reporting is rarely the core function of the application, it is often the first item on the roadmap to be neglected or pushed off. Despite this, users demand exceptional reporting so they can better use of the application. It is quite a chicken-and-the-egg dilemma. Do they take time away from their core application to focus on better reporting so their users can better use the app? Or do they continue building their core product and accept reporting change requests each time a user needs a new report?
But this does not have to be the case. The same way companies outsource functions like marketing, sales, development and HR, the fastest growing companies are now using 3rd party tools, like Izenda, to cover their reporting and analytics needs. The tools are licensed to a company and can often be completely invisible as a 3rd party product to the end-user. This model lets businesses focus more time on their core product and far less time on dealing with reporting. Some benefits to this include:
- Gain Competitive Edge – Enhanced reporting and analytics serves as a competitive differentiator.
- Generate Additional Revenue – Embedded analytics serves as a revenue generator, providing potential add-on licensing for analytics modules or as an enticement to upgrade to the latest version of a product.
- Improve Customer Retention – Better analytics increases the usefulness of a product, increasing satisfaction and retention. It reduces the likelihood users will look for another product to meet their needs.
- Increase Product Criticality – Beyond just retaining customers and gaining a competitive differentiator, done right embedded analytics inside of an operational application makes an application essential to how users do their job. Insights provided in a dashboard can prompt users to take action, and reports and other analytics objects can guide users to make better decisions.
- Lower Operational Cost – Embedding analytics is more cost effective than building and maintaining an in-house solution.
How Izenda Embeds Differently
Izenda supports all three methods of embedding, but is designed to integrate at the code level within an application or website. This means we scale with you, are invisible as 3rd party product to your users and completely integrated into your existing workflows. Doesn’t this sound way better than an iFrame? Here are some benefits, if you were wondering:
White-Labeling – iframes are a distinct code base and require constant workarounds to keep branding consistent, while integration at the code level allows for branding to remain consistent and any future changes are made in one place.
Responsive Design – iframes are not responsive, as a result, may truncate reports and visualizations. Embedding at the code level enables reporting and analytics to display fully responsively.
Security – At best, iframes introduce another level of security to be managed. At worst, they can introduce security vulnerabilities. Code level integration allows an embedded platform to inherit the existing security model, making managing user roles and access rights, data privacy and compliance easier.
If you are curious, you can read more about the issues with iframes in this blog.
To learn more about the Izenda platform check out our platform or take it for a test drive. You may be surprised with what you find.