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As a product management professional, you have ambitious plans to make your software application successful for your customers and for your business. But turning those plans into reality is easier said than done, especially when you lack critical insight into product runtime and customer usage patterns.

Your strategic product decisions have far-reaching effects that ripple throughout the customer journey. These decisions should be based on fact — not just anecdotal evidence or gut feelings.


Guest Post from Keith Fenech, VP, Software Usage Analytics, V.i. Labs.


However, if you’re like most product managers, you might not have the tools required to make informed decisions based on how customers are actually using your product. According to a 2014 Pragmatic Marketing survey, 45% of product managers spend the majority of their day deciding what features should go into their products; given the aforementioned lack of insight, how can you be sure that your decisions are actually meeting customer needs?

What keeps product teams up at night?

Chances are you’re spending long hours collecting data from multiple, disparate sources and trying to sift through and organize this data to learn about customers and how they interact with your product. You might be relying on some combination of:

  • Download logs and call-home statistics
  • Feedback from the sales channel and customer support staff
  • Data from customer relationship management (CRM) systems and marketing automation frameworks
  • Web analytics reports
  • Ad-hoc surveys with customers or prospects

Trying to make sense of all this data is painful, time-consuming, and too often inconclusive, forcing you to base product decisions on guesswork rather than fact-based analysis. It’s no wonder the Pragmatic survey also reported that 28% of product teams are kept up at night worrying that delivered features aren’t being used by customers.

The power of software usage analytics

When you’re trying to keep up with pressing customer demands and rapidly changing markets, it’s risky to rely on anecdotal evidence, disjointed data, or non-actionable vanity metrics like download statistics for making key product decisions.

Software usage analytics provide valuable business intelligence that helps guide your decisions and focus your efforts where they’ll have the most impact. Software analytics and runtime intelligence tools help you build better applications by providing comprehensive, targeted reports that show where, when, and how your applications are being used by trial users and paying customers around the globe.

Armed with these actionable insights, you can make data-driven decisions about your product roadmap, allocate engineering resources more effectively, and develop more informed sales and marketing strategies that drive competitive advantage and increase revenue.

Build what customers want

With software analytics, you get the benefits of a continuous, automated feedback loop, which helps you stay on the right track and avoid wasting time, money and resources on building, marketing, and supporting features that aren’t widely used or valued by customers.

These tools also enable you to identify usage patterns and trends, so you know which user experience (UX) or user interface (UI) design improvements are most likely to increase conversion and adoption rates. Software usage analytics help answer critical questions such as:

  • How often do users engage with your application?
  • Which features are your customers using or not using?
  • For how long and in what way are prospects evaluating your product?
  • Are there underlying usage trends or behavior patterns related to user churn?
  • When does it make sense to pull the plug on a legacy version?
  • How would dropping an old feature affect your customer base?
  • What software versions, OS platforms, and hardware architectures are customers using?
  • What’s the optimal pricing structure for your product?

All software analytics tools are NOT created equal

Once you’ve identified the core actionable metrics you want to track, you need a solution that enables you to collect and visualize your product data clearly and seamlessly in order to guide smart decision making.

When evaluating software analytics tools to support data-driven product engagement decisions, look for a solution that:

  • Collects meaningful data and delivers actionable metrics such as those related to user engagement, feature usage, and purchases, rather than simplistic drop-off or uninstall numbers.
  • Goes beyond data collection and delivers real insights in a highly graphical format that’s easy to access and digest.
  • Converts raw data into actionable business intelligence reports with drill-down and segmentation capabilities.
  • Displays real-time visualizations that present high-level information with the ability to drill down interactively when you need to learn more.
  • Provides out-of-the-box reporting to help you quickly understand and answer both basic and complex questions for rapid return on investment (ROI).
  • Allows you to easily customize dashboards and reports to meet your company-specific requirements.
  • Integrates seamlessly with third-party business intelligence and CRM tools.
  • Adapts and scales to meet your evolving business requirements.

Conclusion

Software analytics provide valuable insight into product runtime and customer usage patterns to help you make data-driven decisions that foster user engagement and accelerate adoption.

These solutions help you understand user activity and conversions after your product is downloaded by gathering intelligence on what platforms and architectures the software is running, which products features are used or ignored, and how usage and churn trends vary by user segment.


keith-fenech-vilabsKeith is the Co-Founder of Trackerbird Software Analytics, a V.i. Labs company. Trackerbird provides valuable insight into product runtime and customer usage patterns giving product management the intelligence to make data-driven decisions about their product roadmaps.

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