Offering valuable data services to customers is now well within reach  - Photo by UX Indonesia on UnsplashWe live in a data-saturated world. Apps, mobiles, PCs, appliances and websites all collect massive amounts of the stuff. But corralling that valuable data and gaining insights from it in time to make profitable decisions still eludes many businesses. That’s because historically, to mine and analyse data required highly specialised skills and lots of time – and money.

The growth of easily embeddable third-party analytics means building data apps to offer ‘insights-as-a-service’ to customers is now within reach. Even small and medium-sized businesses can take advantage. Besides offering added value to existing clients, offering data insights on-demand through desktop and mobile apps can give your business the edge to sell more in the first place. It can even help you attract talent, which is especially important in our current tight labour market.

A consumer-inspired customer experience

In the insights-as-a-service model, customers get access to insights from data, often stemming from their actions. A simple example of this is in the apps that come with fitness watches. They log data you generate from physical activity and present it in dashboards. They also deliver motivational insights on improving areas like sleep, aerobic fitness, and body composition. Since fitness watch companies also gather data from thousands of consumers, they can benchmark your health scores against other people in your demographic.

The popularity of consumer apps has given rise to an explosion of data apps in the B2B world. These allow workers to run their businesses on the move. Popular apps include Asana, HubSpot, Google Analytics, LinkedIn, and Salesforce. They also analyse and provide valuable data insights in areas from the status of key projects to sales conversion rates to bottom line profits.

One drawback of providing SaaS software on a subscription basis is that it’s very easy for customers to defect. Giving customers fast and easy access to valuable data insights makes your software ‘stickier’ and more competitive in the market.

Not just for the big players

But as hinted earlier, the ability to offer insights-as-a-service is not just for big, well-funded Silicon Valley companies. Thanks to the availability of easily embeddable third-party analytics, building data apps that give your SaaS software a competitive edge and benefit your customers is well within reach.

Our customer, Ice Blue Sky, is a small UK-based B2B marketing consultancy that specialises in account-based marketing (ABM). Its most valuable assets are experienced consultants with strong domain knowledge in enterprise technology marketing. Its clients measure the success of programmes by tracking key performance metrics like audience growth, engagement, and opportunity pipeline. Historically, this meant that account teams would have to manually gather this information before any client meeting by importing it into spreadsheets and presenting it in reports. It’s a laborious process, prone to human error, and the information was often out of date by the time it was presented.

Giving customers up-to-date metrics frees account managers

Ice Blue Sky’s CEO Charlotte Graham-Cumming wanted an agile way to provide its clients with up-to-date metrics. Besides the obvious benefit of putting this information at the clients’ fingertips, it would free account managers to operate at a higher level. They can recommend strategies to continuously improve outcomes based on the data.

Initially sceptical of being able to offer such a service, Charlotte found the ideal solution through Digital Hive’s partner’s Assimil8. Assimil8’s iSpot Marketing Analytics solution provides all-in-one reporting for agency analytics, allowing users to track key marketing metrics themselves.

iSpot Marketing is built on Digital Hive’s intelligent analytics portal. It connects to and surfaces data from multiple analytics systems in a user-friendly style that’s more reminiscent of Netflix than, say, NetSuite. In iSpot, Digital Hive is connected to the ThoughtSpot self-service analytics platform to provide near real-time data insights.

The easily customisable Digital Hive platform allows Ice Blue Sky to embed iSpot Marketing into branded customer analytics portals for its clients. As Charlotte explained: “Digital Hive has helped us create an agile data service that I honestly didn’t think was possible. Our clients can now access the metrics that matter to them, on demand. And it frees up so much of our consultants’ time that would otherwise be spent on manually tabulating and presenting data. We can truly operate at a higher level as trusted advisors.”

Besides wowing existing clients, customer analytics portals like Ice Blue Sky’s provide a competitive advantage over new ones. As Charlotte confirms: “The ability to offer data insights really takes us up a gear in pitches, especially when we’re going up against big agencies that have built their own software in-house.”

What to look for in embeddable analytics

Hopefully, the argument for embeddable analytics that enables you to offer insights-as-a service is clear. Getting started can feel a bit daunting, especially if you’re a service business that’s not experienced in building data apps. Here are the top things to look for:

A ‘no-code’ or ‘low code’ experience: You shouldn’t need a full-time coder on your team to build your data app. Look for a system that is easy enough for a tech-savvy administrator to build your customer analytics portal and connect it to external data sources using visual tools and ‘wizards’.

Easy to customise and personalise: It should also be easy to customise branded portals using any colours, visual imagery, and layout you or your clients prefer. Ideally, each user should be able to further personalise the UX, depending on their role and interests.

No ‘per-seat’ licensing: When you start offering data services, your business, and the number of users, are likely to grow. With per-seat licensing contracts, costs can easily spiral out of control. Look for alternative, more manageable pricing models. For example, those that charge based on a fixed monthly subscription or by data sources connected.

Self-service user experience: Your analytics portal should be intuitive enough for your customers to use and personalise with minimal or no training. Look for technology partners that offer a highly visual, consumer-inspired user experience.

In short, offering data insights to customers can take your business to new heights. It can help improve your customers’ outcomes. The data can also help you plan your business with greater purpose and clarity. So don’t be intimidated by the scale of the challenge. The ability to offer insights-as-a-service has never been more accessible.

Digital HiveDigital Hive is an international software company that provides an intelligent analytics portal to information from multiple analytics and BI tools, content management systems, and file systems – on premise and in the cloud. By providing a single, shared organisational view, federated search across tools, and custom branding, Digital Hive helps drive systems adoption, improve data literacy, and deliver data stories for better decision making and business performance. A 2020 Gartner ‘Cool Vendor,’ Digital Hive customers like Clarity, DFS, Highmark, Froneri, Pomona College, and University of Denver.


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