The Future of Analytics – The Data Platform

The future of analytics is event based, with events tracked back to individuals. People not pageviews. There are a couple obvious trends that are driving this:

  1. Tablet and mobile are now growing at a much faster rate then the web, as mobile moves to take over web in terms of market share we’ll see apps driving more usage than websites.

  2. Websites are moving from thin-client to thick-client and single page applications and other similar Javascript heavy sites are becoming the norm. Client-side frameworks like backbone.js, ember.js or new full-stack frameworks like Meteor are further enabling this.

This shift has led to the introduction of event based tracking tools like Mixpanel, KISSmetrics, etc. and the beginning of the end for any traditional pageview-based analytics solutions (Google Analytics, Chartbeat, etc) that don’t figure something out quickly.

As the data becomes easier to capture people tend to capture more of it and more data leads to more interesting applications of that data. New event-based analytics data has many applications other than just static data analysis. We’re now seeing the usage of what would previously been considered analytics data to do very sophisticated analysis or affect product behavior in real-time.

The Present

To date, most of the startups playing in this market offer the ability to do one thing that is important enough to the business that they’re willing to pay the high price of integration. The problem right now is that there are far too many companies out there with limited feature sets tailored towards consumer startups for a variety of different applications where costly (in terms of engineer time) integration is required. Many are undoubtably useful when implemented but the cost of integration may lead to them not being used:

  • Mixpanel
  • KissMetrics
  • UserFox
  • Customer.io
  • Intercom.io
  • Klaviyo
  • Vero
  • … and many more.

Each one of these requires data collection at the event level aggregated to people. In each case the hardest part about the sale is getting someone over the data integration hump. Is it worth it?

The Future

Similar to how we see salesforce as a ‘data platform’ for managing CRM/lead type data something will emerge that will be the ‘Salesforce’ of application level ‘event’ data aggregated to the ‘person’ level and their platform will provide access to 3rd party developers to build the long tail of tools for data analysis.

Their key competencies will be with dealing with large amounts of structured data efficiently and making integration to collect that data extremely easy.

Companies To Watch

Segment.io

Pro: If they become the obvious, simple integration choice for developers (while also storing the data themselves) they will have an extremely strong market position to build into this vision.

Con: They don’t actually have a metrics product and if they became threatening the leading provider could actively try to disable such an integration.

Mixpanel

Pro: They seem to be winning event-centric metrics to date and are in a good position to open up a data platform.

Con: They may not have enough critical mass to make 3rd party integration interesting for anyone serious. Entire companies are built on Salesforce’s platform, this may not yet be possible with a Mixpanel platform.

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