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Invisible analytics help teams make smarter decisions

By Scott Castle

This may sound counterintuitive coming from an analytics company, but analytics are not the “point” of analytics software. Making smarter decisions and delivering better business outcomes are the main reasons companies of all sizes in every industry want to drive their teams to make use of business intelligence. 

But generations of technological innovation (better data visualizations, cloud analytics, and self-service tools) plus the rise of analytics-focused cultures in workplaces have failed to deliver on the many promises analytics hold; analytics adoption among in-house workforces remains stalled at around 30%.

However, in survey after survey, respondents rate using analyzed data to drive decision-making as vital to the success of their companies — including respondents to our Harvard Business Review study, where 89% of those polled stated that analyzed data is important to their organization’s innovation strategy.

Faced with a need to put actionable intelligence into the hands of users and stalled adoption rates, what are companies to do in a world where getting the most out of their data is a key to staying competitive? The answer: Make analytics invisible. By making workplace embedded analytics more like today’s consumer experiences, infusing intelligence into applications workers are already using, and focusing on outcomes (instead of technology), companies can increase their use of data and analytics and evolve how they do what they do.

Decision-makers want consumer-style analytics

Analytics are all around us today. In 2020, consumers executed 109 billion downloads from the Google Play Store and 34 billion from the Apple App Store. Many of these consumer-centric apps already contain analytics seamlessly infused into the experience.

Guidance systems like Google Maps and Waze are becoming more intelligent, understanding when a user is on their daily commute, suggesting optimized routes, and even sending alerts when they should leave to arrive on time. Meanwhile, music services like Spotify constantly analyze listeners’ preferences as they “like” or skip songs and recommend new artists, albums, and tracks they might enjoy. Google Calendar has recently begun showing users insights like the amount of time they’re spending in meetings, who they meet with most often, and more.

These are all invisible analytics experiences that consumers — like the people on your teams — have come to know, love, and expect over time (without them even really realizing it). They want their workplace analytics served up the same way. The key to getting users to actually avail themselves of insights derived from analyzed data is to make the experience as seamless, invisible, and consumer-style as possible.

Use analytics to empower other applications

COVID-19 made remote work a must for every industry able to facilitate it. Essential services like healthcare and foodservice can only be done face-to-face, but other sectors (especially those featuring high-tech companies) have pivoted hard to digital models. 

This shift has led to an increase in the number of different business programs workers use every day. A recent study from identity-management company Okta reported that in 2020, the average company had 88 apps in use across the organization; some companies had almost 200! Gartner predicts that worker reliance on these apps will only go up over time, as remote work continues to be the norm for an increasingly distributed workforce. 

Think about your own internal teams: How many applications are they using on a daily basis? Salesforce, Marketo, Gainsight, Asana … the list is endless. With so many icons and alerts lighting up their desktops (and, increasingly, phones) every day, do you really want one more program (an analytics platform) elbowing in for attention as well?

Again, all users want invisible, easy-to-use insights served up like the consumer analytics they’re already used to. The essence of actionable intelligence is the right piece of information, in front of the right person, at the right time and place, guiding them to the best next action. No switching between programs, hunting for the right insight, or puzzling over the right next action to take. 

Extending the abilities of any piece of workplace software by adding personalized, actionable intelligence to it is the next wave or generation of analytics. The only limit for how analytics could positively impact your teams is your imagination. Savvy companies looking to augment their workforces with actionable intelligence should choose analytics platforms with robust, flexible APIs that allow for personalized, custom analytics inside any program their teams use — wherever your workforce spends its time, that’s where you want to put analytics.

Focus on outcomes over technology

If the right software program or a top-down culture of adopting analytics was enough to get everyone in every industry using analytics, it would have done so by now. Countless companies have gone through lengthy product buying cycles, rolled out fancy new analytics software, and gotten little for their efforts. 

Infusing actionable intelligence into workflows and apps and focusing on outcomes is the solution to a problem that another standalone piece of software won’t solve. The right analytics platform capable of infusing advanced insights from complex data sources, augmented with AI-driven capabilities, into workflows is the key to smarter teams making better decisions.

An extensible framework makes all that possible, supercharging any piece of workplace software and making users smarter without them even realizing it. Consumer software companies are already aware of how important real-time recommendations and actionable insights are and how much customers want them. Now it’s time for businesses in every industry to follow suit and provide their workforces with analytics experiences that mirror consumer ones. 

The future is invisible analytics, and the future is here.

Scott Castle is the VP of strategy at Sisense. He brings over 25 years of experience in software development and product management at leading technology companies including Adobe, Electric Cloud, and FileNet. Scott is a prolific writer and speaker on all things data, appearing at events like the Gartner Enterprise Data Conference, Data Champions, and Strata Data NYC.