Top 5 Benefits for Embedding Analytics into Cloud Applications
With cloud applications becoming the de facto standard delivery model, how can we derive benefits from the data growth in the cloud?
Humans, devices, and applications all produce an enormous data trail. In fact, the rate at which data increases is staggering -- doubling every 18-24 months. Organizations and individuals can make better decisions by capitalizing on the rich vein of information that all this data holds.
In the modern world, cloud applications generate mountains of data for businesses. According to research done by the International Data Corporation and their partners, 64 percent of small and midsize businesses are using cloud-based applications. On average these businesses are using three cloud applications -- expected to increase to seven by 2018. A large enterprise might utilize hundreds of cloud applications across its organization. The point is that cloud application usage is already high and expected to increase.
The cloud application delivery model is trending strong these days. The entire global SaaS market valuation is expected to rise by 37 percent in 2018, and many markets (such as mobile) are already dominated by cloud applications. (For more, see "Worldwide SaaS and Cloud Software 2015–2019 Forecast and 2014 Vendor Shares (August 2015). International Data Corporation.)
With cloud applications becoming the de facto standard delivery model, how can we derive benefits from the data growth in the cloud? The answer is to embed analytics into cloud applications. There are five key benefits to this arrangement.
Benefit #1: Multi-tenancy enables best-in-class scalability and administration
Most cloud applications run on a multi-tenant architecture that provides administration advantages such as granting user or group permissions on a dedicated set of the application's resources, thereby allowing users to control their own resources.
By integrating a multi-tenant-enabled analytics solution within your application, you can also gain benefits of scale. With the dedicated resources for your users, the cost of adding users approaches zero in large-scale deployments. In addition to sharing a single application with embedded analytics, you can save on operational costs because updates to the application would apply to all tenants.
Benefit #2: Contextualizing analytics within your applications improves productivity
If your applications do not inherently provide analytics, your users might rely on an external analytics tool such as Excel. This could inadvertently lead to decentralization of data analysis, causing data inaccuracy and inconsistency issues because your users are likely to be out of sync. Considering your users' desire for relevant information, embedding an analytics solution helps increase user adoption while ensuring maximum analytics efficiency.
By integrating and providing analytics from within your cloud application, users can contextualize the analytics within the domain of the data used by the application. They can operate a consistent workflow within a single application without multi-tasking and breaking their train of thought.
Benefit #3: Data in one convenient location
In cloud applications, data usually resides in cloud storage. This makes it easy to locate and connect to data; however, there are pros and cons for embedding analytics versus using an external analytics solution.
The convenience of having your data in the cloud allows embedded analytics solutions to work straight from your transactional data. On the other hand, using an external analytics solution requires a data mashup layer to organize and prepare data for analysis. This organization and preparation stage gives users the flexibility to combine multiple data fields and data sources that have not been mapped in a schema and organize them to their own needs. However, this also creates an additional workload for developers because they will have to create the mashup layer, which isn't always needed with embedded analytics.
Benefit #4: Enterprises can manage user empowerment and data governance
Whether it is ad hoc reporting or the capabilities of data discovery, balancing empowerment and governance is important. By embedding an analytics solution, you benefit from advanced options for governance, such as metadata layers, so your development team can define the scope of what self-service entails within their application.
They can define what data is exposed to users, functions, behavior, and even UI elements. By empowering users to build ad hoc reports, developers can reduce their own workload of report design and creation. Developers who understand their users' requirements and define the appropriate scope of self-service can help users confidently create and modify reports. This in turn allows users to work within predefined reports to modify them and answer the business questions they need without help from IT.
Benefit #5: Users enjoy an integrated, seamless, secure experience
One of the great things about embedded analytics is the secure data transactions that are both integrated and seamless. Once embedded, analytics solutions use an API callback to obtain your application's security settings. The best analytics solutions do not require duplication or separate security configurations. After users login via single sign-on (SSO), they are ready to go.
SSO provides a seamless secure experience. As soon as users are authenticated, their credentials are automatically used to provide access to other applications. Embedded analytics with SSO provides a secure method for user authentication to the host application as well as its integrated analytics capabilities.
Ready for a Data-Driven Culture
These are just some of the benefits that highlight the value of embedding analytics into cloud applications. From product competitiveness to supporting modern architectures, harnessing the power of your data stands to improve your ROI and empower your users with valuable knowledge so they can make better decisions.
Successfully integrating analytics capabilities into your application depends heavily on your methodology in selecting the right analytics solution. Analytics solutions provide different ways to embed and deploy, access data, and visualize data. Many may not support scalable, multi-tenant architectures or provide the right means of data governance, advanced reporting, or self-service capabilities, so choose carefully.
Leo Zhao has been a senior BI consultant at Jinfonet for over 10 years. From guiding prospects through the JReport product suite to creating proof-of-concepts to onsite trainings, his extensive product expertise ensures that customers’ needs are met. Prior to working at Jinfonet, Leo was involved with the systems integration and business intelligence industry for almost a decade. You can contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.