IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: The Power of In-App Analytics with Phani Pandrangi, Kii CorporationFebruary 25, 2013 1 Comment
In the below interview, Phani Pandrangi from Kii Corporation outlines the advantages of being able to analyze data and deploy applications in the cloud.
- Q. What are the key benefits of a customizable in-app analytics platform for businesses looking to analyze data from any location, at any time?
A. Analytics is all about visibility – and customizable in-app analytics is all about app developers having full control over visibility into app usage – full control over (a) what data is to be analyzed, (b) how it should be analyzed (c) when it should be analyzed and (d) how the results of analysis are to be used.
1. Only the app developer knows what he wants to understand about the app’s usage – so he ought to be able to define metrics (that he wants to track) by himself AND in terms that are relevant and specific to his own app – i.e., in app data and app functionality terms. The benefit, therefore, is that the visibility is in very specific and very relevant terms for the app.
If the app is a “to-do tasks” app – the app developer might want to get visibility into how the tasks are being created (thru text entry, thru voice or offline by sending email to the app), when the tasks are being created, by what types of users, the priorities of the tasks, trends etc. So the metrics he wants to create are in very app specific data terms (number of tasks, priority, user type etc. are all app data).
Generic broad metrics like ‘users spend more time in social apps than in productivity apps’ etc. are not of much value to this developer – he wants deep visibility into his own app.
2. Once developers are given control over defining their own metrics – they want to analyze in various terms. Not just count things – but perhaps see averages, max, min, sum etc. Similarly, they might want to slice and dice the metric that is being tracked in various ways. For example, a metric could be – total number of to-do tasks sliced by input type, by user type and by priority.
3. Developers can think of new metrics to track and measure at anytime – it could be while they are developing OR it could be after the app is deployed to the app store and being used by millions of users. From an app developers’ perspective, they ought to be able to define and track metrics irrespective of when they come up with a new metric to track.
If app analytics solution says – oh, you have to know what metrics you want to track at the time you are CODING your app (because you have to send us data thru an SDK or whatever), then that type of analytics solution seriously limits the extent of visibility because much of the time, developers think of new metrics to track AFTER they have deployed the app to app store.
4. Developers also should have full control over how the results of analytics are used. Dashboards with drill down capabilities are obviously important – but equally important are APIs for analytic results. Getting results thru APIs can help app developers create very dynamic apps – which might show or do different things based on how specific metrics are performing. For example, if a premium user’s task creation in your “task app” is less than the average that is being tracked, then may be you want to incentivize the user somehow or display additional tips or help when he uses the app next etc.
- Q. How does Kii Analytics work to help developers track the user behavior they care about most?
A. Kii Analytics is probably the only app analytics solution in the market that does all of the above – i.e., it gives full control to app developers on what they want to track and how they want to track, both before and after the app is deployed. Plus, it gives both a dashboard and an API to get to results of analysis.
Developers can define metrics in our Developer Portal. They can define metrics on top of data that is in our Kii Cloud. They can also define metrics on events that the app sends out for analysis. When defining metrics, they chose what data needs to be aggregated, how it should be aggregated and how they want to slice and dice.
When the developer activates the metric, Kii Analytics backend then does the processing – and starts giving out results thru dashboard in Developer Portal and also thru APIs.
- Q. What differentiates Kii Analytics from other analytics offerings available to businesses today?
A. Most so-called app analytics solutions have the following approach:
Insert SDK into your app and in your app’s code send whatever data you want to analyze to the analytics server. And the analytics server only provides specific types of metrics. The metrics usually are cross sectional aggregates that measure things like user retention and some forms of engagement.
There are several issues with this approach:
- What is sent for analysis (thru SDK) is just a small slice of overall data. If you are analyzing only a small slice of data – then very likely, the insights you get from the analytics isn’t going to be that great.
- Whenever you think of a new metric for visibility – you have to change the app
- Analytic vendor gives out of the box metrics – with little customization possibility. Typically customization is on slice and dice – not on what is measured or how it is measured.
- Ideally, you need to have figured out all possible metrics beforehand, before deployment – otherwise, you will need to keep changing the app.
- And if you have an iOS app and an Android app – you have to code and change both apps – and keep them in sync for uniform visibility
Why do most other app analytics vendors take this approach?
It is simple. They want to gather metrics that are cross sectional (applicable to all types of apps) in general about users and usage – so that they can then use this data in selling monetization solutions back to developers. This is great for the analytics vendor – but not so much for app developers who want deep visibility into their app.
Kii Analytics, on the other hand, eliminates these major drawbacks. Being fully integrated into Kii Cloud, it allows you to analyze data in the cloud at any time (before or after deploying the app) without the need to keep on changing the app as the developer thinks of new things to track and measure.
- Q. In what ways do Kii Partners help provide mobile app developers access to a larger distribution network of mobile operators, and what are the benefits of this?
A. App developers need a lot more than a great idea and a superb user experience for the app to go from being just an app to a real successful business. They need a solid back-end (Kii Cloud) to support their app, they need deep visibility (Kii Analytics) to keep enhancing the app, they need capital (Kii Capital) to scale and then they need the ability to go global. That’s where Kii’s partner network and business services come in.
For example, your app monetizes with ads – what is the appropriate ad strategy for China? Which app stores in China should you put your app on? How? What are the conditions and requirements? What about translation? How do you get on to a carrier’s app store or app program in Japan? How to bill your users in China? How can you work with a device manufacturer or carrier in Asia to get your app preloaded?
These are hard and yet key questions that an app developer is confronted with when they think of going global – especially to Asia. With our deep ties to Asia and strong partners, we help de-mystify Asia to app developers outside of Asia and help solve these types of practical issues for them so that they can keep their focus on their app itself.
- Q. How do Kii Cloud and Kii Analytics work together to help developers deploy apps and manage users and data more quickly and efficiently?
A. Combination of Kii Cloud and Kii Analytics makes it possible for app developers to analyze any of the data they have in the cloud at any time.
-You analyze the WHOLE data – not just slices of data. If your data is in Kii Cloud – you can define metrics on any of the data.
-There is no SDK when used together with Kii Cloud. However, we also have an SDK thru which you can send app events for analysis – if that is the approach you prefer.
-No need to keep changing the app if the metrics are over the data in the cloud.
-You define metrics that are relevant to you – the app developer is the one defining everything about the metric – what to measure, how to measure, how to slice and dice.
-Metrics in your own app-data terms
-You can define metrics at ANY time – not just before deploying apps
-Because the analytics are defined on data in the cloud – you don’t have to do anything specific to your iOS app and Android app to keep them in sync etc.
Phani Pandrangi is Vice President of Products at Kii and is in-charge of product vision, management and execution. Previously, Phani was Director of Product Management at Software AG where he was responsible for the webMethods Business Process Management product. Before Software AG, Phani worked in Product Management and Product Development roles at BEA Systems, Plumtree Software, Datasweep and Savvion. Phani holds an MBA from University of California at Berkeley, a Masters in Computer Science from Oregon State University and Bachelors in Computer Science & Engineering from Osmania University.CLOUD COMPUTING, Fresh Ink, MOBILE