Buying self-serve analytics tools? Make sure they’re “end-to-end”, are scriptable, and provide support

The analytics space is getting more crowded by the day, with new startups, products, and tools being announced regularly. If you’re a business executive or manager and are hoping to implement an analytics strategy, the choices can be overwhelming. Many tools purport to be easy to use, to have no integration requirements, and to give you answers to every question you have about your customers and the segments they’re in. While this might be the case, consider the following five rarely-considered points when choosing a tool — not only will they save you grief, but ideally, they’ll help you implement a best-in-class strategy.

  1. Ensure that customer support is available daily. Your business doesn’t have time to stall while waiting on a customer service request. Ensure that the company you are buying from is available constantly or has a “maximum response time” guarantee. When you do not understand a chart or recommendation, it is crucial you get your conundrums addressed.
  2. Clarify integration responsibilities. Companies often require you to pay additional fees for custom integrations, or refuse to integrate your data unless you use their supported platforms. Before making any decisions about a platform, ensure it supports your existing databases or commerce tools. Some companies (like ours!) will do the integration at no additional cost.
  3. Make sure it’s end-to-end. Most companies are looking to buy an analytics tool to solve a specific need — be it discovering cross-sell opportunities, clarifying costs, or improving e-mail conversions. Whatever your goal, strive to find a tool that actually helps you achieve the goal rather than simply providing the analysis.
  4. Check for a scripting language. As you become well-versed in analytics, your questions will become significantly more complex and oftentimes will be beyond the purview of the out-of-the-box dashboards most tools provide. Ensure there is a scripting language powering the tool you buy, and ideally, a customer support team that can write queries for you.
  5. Be comfortable! Some sales teams will specifically try to confuse you or intimidate you with complex and fancy statistics. While such tools can be powerful, any tool that seems complex or intimidating is likely to remain unused once you actually purchase it. If anything, take the time to learn it before you buy; the sales team should understand and support you in this.

Have other tips for those buying tools? Let us know!

Written by Wojciech Gryc

Wojciech Gryc is the CEO of Canopy Labs. Prior to Canopy Labs, Wojciech was a consultant with McKinsey & Co. and a researcher at IBM Research. Wojciech is a Rhodes Scholar and Loran Scholar.

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