The Adobe Analytics dashboards App has been out for some days now. It has been one of the most demanded features among Analytics users for years. Personally, I had to disappoint my business users for quite some time whenever they asked for an App. So naturally, I was quite happy when it finally came out.
Before the app arrived, we had to build workarounds to enable people to take Analytics data wherever they go. At my company we utilized Power BI to pull data from Analytics and offer it in some form of mobile app. That was a huge pain, since we had to rebuild things we already had in Analysis Workspace and maintain two products. We also had to make huge compromises regarding interactivity with data and visualizations. I’m very happy we don’t need to do that any more!
One of the concerns I had before I gained Beta access to the app was that Adobe would try to create a mobile Workspace experience with all of the features. I was thinking about how bloated the Google Analytics app is with features that are quite confusing to non-analysts or occasional business users. But luckily, Adobe took a very different approach.
It’s not Workspace Mobile. Thank you!
With Adobe Analytics, we have quite a lot of different user interfaces already. While Analysis Workspace offers the most sophisticated feature set known today, we have some more tools for different use cases. For example, Report Builder enables us to pull our data into an Excel spreadsheet and automate the process.
The term “use case” is very important here. Neither Workspace nor Report Builder are meant to replace the other, but rather complement each other. If you want to dive deep into your data and do agile, interactive analysis, Report Builder would give you a very frustrating experience. On the other hand, if you want to pull a lot of data into Excel for your quarterly business report, copy-pasting dozens of tables from Workspace would be tiresome and error-prone.
This is very important to keep in mind. The Adobe Analytics dashboards app is not a replacement for any other interface. It’s meant to cover completely different use cases that would require us to compromise on the user experience if done otherwise. Like I described, pulling all Analytics data into Power BI has been the workaround for us, together with opening PDF reports on a mobile phone and zooming in and out like crazy. Now we just offer a Scorecard in the dashboards app and maintain it where every other Workspace project is maintained.
If at some point Adobe decides to create another app to offer a mobile Workspace experience, I would be a huge fan of that because I know my way around Workspace already. But at the same time, I would want to protect my less-technical users from the confusing experience it will mean to them. So let’s take a look at what we can do with the app we have today!
Giving our users the experience they deserve
As a modern company, we want to enable our business people to work in a data driven way. To achieve this, we spent a lot of time simplifying access and increasing data literacy. With the dashboards app we can offer a low barrier of entry to start using Analytics data. We can create Scorecards for our most important business questions and share it with all Analytics users without having to bother if they can break something.
This allows to answer questions on the go. For example, the trend indicator dynamically shows how the currently selected timeframe compares to the selected reference time. Now we can see immediately how our company is doing this week compared to last week. One thing I love most about the app is the carefully curated list of dateranges and comparisons. Questions like “How are we doing today/this week/this month compared to yesterday/today last week/last month” can be answered quickly and intuitively in every future meeting.
With the Segment selector, we can tightly control which segments are available and what the default should be. If we don’t want to require our users to select segments themselves, we can apply them to single visualizations as well. This helps to understand our customers better and compare their behavior across our most important segments.
Since the app is so easy to understand, it also gives our users a great starting point to start working with Analytics data. We don’t need nearly as much enablement to get someone up to speed compared to the full Analysis Workspace experience. But not everyone needs to become a fully fledged Analytics user when the app is enough to enable data driven decisions.
Building an App without needing to build an App
As an Analyst, the dashboards App enables us to give our business users a mobile Analytics experience without having to build something outside of Analysis Workspace. It’s not like Report Builder, where I would need to switch to a different tool outside of the Workspace interface.
With our previous way of having to use Power BI at my company, we had to care about exporting data from Analytics, mangling it in a different interface and building an experience on top of it. This was a huge waste of time compared with how easy it is now with the dashboards app.
From a maintenance perspective, we can extend and develop our Mobile Scorecards just like any other Workspace project. Any calculated metric or fancy segment is available immediately. There is no double maintenance needed, which frees up our time to think about what the next sophisticated Metric should be. Let’s look at some examples at what you can build!
Examples to build with the Adobe Analytics App
One of the use cases we have at our company is monitoring App releases. With the dashboards app, we can build a visualization with the Crash Rate metric, broken down by the app version. That gives us a real time view on how stable our newly released update really is.
Those percentage values really lends itself to the dashboards interface. Since humans are not very good at comparing raw numbers, percentages help a lot to get a quick impression on current performance. This is why Workspace offers a percentage next to the raw number.
But in the dashboards app, we only have a single view on every metric and can’t change it to percentages (at least at time of writing). So to get the same information, we can build a calculated metric to give us a share of a defined metric. For example, we can build the share from Workspace with a metric like this, changing the type of the divisor to “Grand Total”. This works for built-in metrics like Unique Visitors, but also every other custom metric.
In Workspace, we can not use this metric and compare it to the value we are trying to match. And it matches perfectly.
Now we can use this in our Mobile Scorecard to give insight into how different percentages perform right now! In my opinion this is much better to understand compared to the absolute numbers. With calculated metrics, we can build those shares for every metric we want to visualize on the go.
Another very relevant use case is keeping an eye on your currently running A/B tests. If you have Analytics for Target enabled, you can pull your Target Activities into a Scorecard and always monitor how your tests are performing!
The same can be done for product launches, where the total orders or conversion rate would be interesting to monitor. Since we can apply segments to single visualizations as well, we can segment single graphs to keep an eye on the currently most interesting product categories.
Since I currently work at a media company, we can do the same thing to monitor the performance of newly published content. With a calculated metrics to give a share of viewership, similar to the one we built above, we have a good comparison to judge the performance right from the launch. This gives us time to react if things are not performing as expected and change some teasers around wherever we are.
The future is exciting
I’m quite thrilled to see where the app will go to in the future. For example, I would love to use segments as breakdown dimensions like we do in Workspace. More different types of visualizations would be nice as well. I trust Adobe to incorporate user feedback, so make sure to leave your comments in the feedback function in the app!
The obvious missing feature is being able to use multiple Report Suites in one Scorecard. While this has been released for Analysis Workspace some time ago, it is not yet available in the dashboards app. While I like the simplicity this brings, it also limits the usage for companies with a lot of Report Suites.
Another feature I need is to monitor the usage via the Admin Logs. With Workspace, I can closely monitor usage and try to increase retention rates. This is something we need for the app as well to be able to optimize our offerings there as well. But even as it is today, this app creates incredible value to Adobe Analytics users.