You’ve decided you want to put data and analytics into your product, service, or experience. Good decision! This kind of functionality isn’t just a “nice to have” anymore; users of all kinds demand it, and customer-facing analytics are revolutionizing businesses in every industry. In a 2020 survey by the IDC (commissioned by Sisense), 40% of respondents said their product team was planning to use analytics in 2021 — up from 27% in 2020. That just makes sense, as apps that used data-informed messaging pushes for audience engagement saw a 25% improvement in retention.
So you already know you need analytics in your product. But here’s a hard truth: If you don’t buy your analytics solution and embed it into your application, odds are you won’t be getting analytics of any kind at all. Is that where you want to be 12 months from now?
Of course, buying an embedded analytics solution will be your quickest path. (And of course we’re going to endorse that!) But time to market is only one reason the buy-versus-build debate is yesterday’s news. Buying is also the smarter choice for delivering functionality that looks and performs exactly the way you want and ultimately gives your users a better product than you could build from scratch.
Customers want data in apps and experiences.Give it to them
Delivering a seamless experience
If you’re weighing the buy-versus-build question and even considering “build,” odds are one of your biggest considerations is matching the look and feel of your existing product.
This is way less of a big deal than you think it is. Modern analytics platforms (the good ones, anyway) are built for embedding. The right solution for your application or experience will offer you nearly unlimited customization. When evaluating buying options, make sure they can match your product’s color scheme, fonts, and other UI features perfectly, and don’t stop looking until you find one that does.
But that’s just table stakes. If you really want to wow your users, get a platform that allows you to implement custom visuals and functionality with your analytics. Just dropping in some data points is fine to start, but you want a platform that will allow your product to grow and evolve over time.
Better features, less maintenance
Speaking of growing and evolving, your product and your team are constantly changing. This is something a lot of product teams don’t take into account when they say they want to build their analytics from scratch. You’ll sit down and spec out the new features you want to add, do story points, maybe even build in another head count, but all this rosy planning misses the point: You’re betting against the universe that your company’s course will run smoothly.
And tell me one time that ever happened in the real world of business.
First off, you’re betting that all your existing product rollouts go perfectly and you don’t end up breaking your architecture at some point and needing to roll back your product or take a bunch of extra time with a feature you thought was going to be simple. On the flip side, what if you get 1 million new users? Most companies dream of that kind of growth, but if your core business runs into a scaling issue, building those shiny new analytics will be the first dev activity thrown by the wayside. (Plus, even if you’ve got them rolled out when your massive user spike happens, will your freshly built analytics be able to handle all the new data?)
You’d also better hope no one on your team gets sick, has a kid, takes another job, or runs off to save the world. App building is unpredictable under the best conditions. Add in building new capabilities that no one on your team is an expert in, plus a few million more lines of code to maintain, and you’re taking a lot of unnecessary risks. You’re also doing a lot of labor that could be done for you by the right analytics platform, delivering better analytics, faster, with less work in the long run.
If you want to work smarter, not harder, this is what that looks like.
Reaping the benefits of constant innovation
When you started thinking about adding data and analytics to your product, what did you envision? Go ahead, call to mind your MVP for a minute. Now innovate on that. What’s your V2? A year from then? And five years from that? Sure, again, software is unpredictable, but needing an innovative solution five years from now is a good problem to have!
When you build from scratch, that’s all on you.
When you buy your analytics and infuse them into your product, service, or experience, you’re not just buying your V1 today and leaving it the way it is. You’re leveraging a long-term partnership with your analytics provider. It has a team of experts working day in and day out to constantly innovate its offering so you can evolve yours.
Your dev team stays focused on your core product (everything but the nuts and bolts of the analytics) and makes sure your analytics look just right infused into the product. Every quarter, your analytics provider will roll out new functionality for you to experiment with and further evolve your offering. It’s win-win.
Building better, together
Yes, buying is the way to go. You can seamlessly match the look and feel of your product or service, deliver better features faster and with less upkeep, and (if you choose the right provider) you’ll reap the rewards of its continual innovation for years to come.
The drive to build from scratch, to own every line of code in your product, is an admirable one. But you didn’t build your house with your own two hands; you don’t only drive a car you can service yourself, or only eat meals you’ve cooked every bit of yourself, right? Do yourself (and your whole team) a favor and buy your analytics instead of building. Your product is still yours, and it’ll be even stronger with analytics assembled by experts and infused into your product by your team.
Customers want data in apps and experiences.Give it to them
Aviad Harell is a Sisense cofounder and COO. He brings with him a proven track record of creating innovative, sustainable solutions to the product life cycle, development, and customers, despite the uncertainty and challenges that may arise.