There are over one hundred BI tools in the market today. When looking at embedding one to create reports and dashboards for your customers, how do you know which tool is right for your software application? How do you distinguish one brand from another? They all tout many similar benefits. So what characteristics and capabilities are included in the tool that will insure the success of your embedded deployment?

The potential for product owners in this space is high. Running product is tough and when you want soft interfaces (such as dashboards) you typically turn and start crafting amendments to your PRD that software devs can start planning and building. You take it to a software dev team and they ask terrifying questions like, “What year did you want that again?” Once the features finally get done, will it scratch the customer’s itch, or will it be too late to be relevant?

Customers increasingly have an appetite for smarter products. They expect their products to be insightful whether they are heart monitors or coffee machines. Rarely, is there an opportunity to satisfy customer needs and create new challenges for competition from your product while standing on existing work. There is no wonder, then, that embedded BI and analytics is a growing space.

Every day, I talk to product owners searching for a BI tool with features they can leverage that will increase customer satisfaction. They generally ask questions that are sensible enough when doing due diligence on making a technology choice.

Here are some important ones:

  • Does the tool integrate seamlessly with multiple databases?
  • Does it support multi-tenancy, single sign-on authentication?
  • Can you broadcast?
  • Can you alert on events and data updates?
  • Can the platform be white-labeled and easily rebranded?
  • Will it allow ad hoc reporting?
  • Are the dashboards beautiful?
  • Can reports be viewed from a smart phone or tablet?

Different BI platforms will approach each of these functionalities with different protocols, but most mature platforms that support embedded BI have anticipated these questions and planned their features accordingly. Your list may vary, but the areas of concern are probably similar.

Unfortunately, that’s where most companies get it wrong. They overestimate the importance of BI tools and underestimate the importance of execution. More precisely, they spend far more time vetting multiple BI tools and far less time insuring that they get their customer-facing content right. It’s hard for us to watch a company invest months of their employees’ valuable time into a technology evaluation and spend almost no time thinking about the planning, resourcing, delivery, and evaluation of the complex features they want for their customers. In the end, what you do with the technology will create the differentiating value that your customers and prospects covet.

Your customers want insight from you that will help them make smarter decisions, which, ultimately, makes their customers happy. How will you deliver deeper intelligence into your reports? It’s not just about decision support anymore; you need to provide systematic oversight and even be in front of your customers’ needs.

And here’s the really great thing about getting it right: They will pay you for it! And that, my friend, is a beautiful thing. That’s how you monetize your data. It’s how you drive more revenue for your product and your business. And it’s really very simple. Give your customer insight that no one else is providing and you will have a customer for life.