Delivering Embedded Analytics to Your Customers

More and more companies are making embedded analytics a core part of their product offering. Companies like Medium, Spotify, Slack, and Intercom are leveraging data as a core product offering to drive results. This isn’t just happening within high growth tech startups. In a recent survey, The Data Warehousing Institute found that around 30% of enterprises already have embedded analytics as a product offering in development or production and this effort is expected to double by the year 2018. Regardless of your industry or company size, you might have thought about ways to use data to engage your users, demonstrate product value, or create opportunities for upsell and differentiation.

Whatever your objective, delivering embedded analytics to your customers can be a significant undertaking and addition to your product roadmap. You’ll need to tackle questions like:

  • What is the purpose of having analytics for our customers?
  • How will you display data to customers?
  • Will you let your customers run their own analysis on data?
  • Will you build in-house or leverage existing technology?
  • How many engineering resources can you dedicate to this?
  • What is the timeline?

We’ve put together a framework for thinking through all the moving parts of delivering embedded analytics to your customers so you’ll be best setup for success.

Define your analytics objective

  • Can data help drive customer engagement?
  • How will providing embedded analytics to your customers differentiate your product?
  • Do you have dedicated resources to help build out this product?
  • Do you have executive buy-in?

Data Readiness

  • Do you currently have customer data stored?
  • What sources do you need to collect data from? Are there APIs you can utilize for third-party providers?
  • How clean is your data?
  • What format is your data in? Will you need to extract, load and transform it?
  • What are the key KPIs your customers care about?

Security & Access

  • How strict are the security requirements of your customers? What type of compliance do they require?
  • How granular do you want to get security permissions? Securing by company, by department, by role?
  • What are your hosting and infrastructure requirements?

Application UX

  • How do you want to display the analytics within your application?
  • How much control do you want customers to have over their analytics? Do you want to make it exportable? Do you want them to run their own queries?
  • Do you know where in the user flow you’d like to incorporate analytics?
  • Do you have a support structure set in place for customers who engage with your analytics service?

Performance

  • How real-time do your customers need their data to be?
  • Do you have a sense for how many queries and how often you’ll need to run these queries per customer?

Engineering Resources

  • What are your current resource constraints?
  • Do you have data engineering and data modeling expertise?
  • Do you have a UI Engineer to design the look and feel of analytics into your application?
  • What additional resources will you need?

Delivery & Extensibility

  • Do you have a sense for the timeline to deliver an MVP?
  • How often do you expect your customer metrics to change?
  • Can you dedicate full-time resources to build this?

Want to reference this list later? We’ve created this handy PDF checklist for you to print off. We also curated a list of 25 companies who are delivering analytics to their customers for fun inspiration.

Happy building! If you’d like to chat about how we’ve helped companies deliver analytics to their customers, give us a shout or request a demo.


25 Examples of Embedded Analytics Data Designs in Modern Products

Data is so ubiquitous, we are sometimes oblivious to just how much of it we interact with — and how many companies are making it a core part of their product. Whether you’re aware of it or not, product leaders across industries are using data to drive engagement and prove value to their end-users. From Fitbit and Medium to Spotify and Slack, data is being leveraged not just for internal decision-making, but as an external product offering and differentiator.

These data-as-product features, often displayed as user-facing dashboards, are known as “embedded analytics” because they are offered natively within the context of the customer experience. We’ve gathered 25 examples of embedded analytics in modern software to highlight their power and hopefully inspire their further adoption.

Ahrefs Lets Website Owners Drill Down on Referrers

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Every day, Ahrefs crawls 4 billion web pages, delivering a dense but digestible array of actionable insights from 12 trillion known links to website owners (and competitors), including referrers, social mentions, keyword searches, and a variety of site rankings.

AirBnB Helps Hosts Improve their Ratings and Revenue

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In addition to providing intimate housing options in 161 countries to 60M+ guests, Airbnb also reminds its more than 600,000 hosts of the fruits of their labors — with earnings reports — and gently nudges them to provide positive guest experiences — with response rates and guest ratings.

Etsy Helps Build Dream Businesses

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The go-to online shop Etsy, which boasts 35M+ products, provides its 1.5M+ sellers with engagement and sales data to help them turn their passion into the business of their dreams.

Eventbrite Alerts Organizers to Sales and Check-ins

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Event organizers use Eventbrite to process 4M tickets a month to 2M events in 187 countries. They also turn to Eventbrite for real-time information, to stay up to date with ticket sales and revenue, to track day-of check-ins, and to understand how to better serve and connect with their attendees.

Facebook Expands Reach of Paid Services

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With Facebook striving to take a bigger bite out of Google’s share of online ad sales, its strategic use of data has spread beyond the already robust Facebook Ads Manager to comprehensive metrics for Pages, including, of course, key opportunities to “boost” posts.

Fitbit Helps Users Reach Their Fitness Goals

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Fitbit’s robust app, connected to any of its eight activity trackers, allows its 17M+ worldwide active users to track steps, distance, and active minutes to help them stay fit; track weight change, calories, and water intake to stay on pace with weight goals; and track sleep stats to help improve energy levels.

GitHub Tracks Evolving Code Bases

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GitHub, the world’s largest host of source code with 35M+ repositories, allows its 14M+ users to gain visibility into their evolving code bases by tracking clones, views, visitors, commits, weekly additions and deletions, and team member activity.

Intercom Targets Tools — and Data — to Users’ Needs

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Intercom, the “simple, personal, fun” customer communications platform, delivers targeted data-driven insights depending on which of the platform’s three products a team uses: Acquire tracks open, click, and reply rates; Engage tracks user profiles and activity stats; and Resolve tracks conversations, replies, and response times.

Jawbone UP Enables Ecosystem of Fitness Apps with Open API

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Jawbone’s four UP trackers helps users hit fitness goals by providing insights related to heart rate, meals, mood, sleep, and physical activity both in its award-winning app, and through an extensive ecosystem of apps that draw data from the platform’s open API.

LinkedIn Premium Tracks Funnel Conversions

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LinkedIn’s Premium suite of networking and brand-building tools helps demonstrate the ROI of sponsored campaigns by providing users with visibility into their engagement funnel — from impression, to click, to interaction, to acquired follower.

Medium Provides Publishers with Key Reader Metrics

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Though Medium’s model is sometimes murky — publishing platform, publication, or social network? — it provides clear insights to its writers (or is that publishers?) in the form of views, reads, recommends, and referrers for published stories.

Mint Helps Users Budget and Save

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Mint encourages users make better finance decisions and save up for big goals by giving them visibility into their spending trends, especially as they relate to personalized budgets.

Pinterest Allows Pinners to Track Engagement

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The internet’s favorite mood board, Pinterest provides it 110M monthly active users with traffic and engagement stats including repins, impressions, reach, and clicks.

Pixlee Illuminates Its Unique Value Proposition

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Pixlee helps brands build authentic marketing by making it easy to discover images shared by their customers, and then deploy them in digital campaigns. To help its clients understand the impact of this unique value proposition, Pixlee serves up an on-brand, real-time dashboard that presents custom metrics like “lightbox engagement” alongside traditional metrics like pageviews and conversions.

Shopkeep Improves Business Decision Making

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Shopkeep’s all-in-one point-of-sale platform uses a wide range of data — from best-selling items to top-performing staff — to helps businesses make fact-based decisions that improve their bottom line.

Slack Delivers Visibility Into Internal Communications

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The messaging app of choice for more than 60,000 teams — including 77 of the Fortune 100 companies — Slack delivers stats related to message frequency, type, and amount, plus storage and integrations.

Spotify Shares Stats as Stunning Visuals

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Spotify’s stream-anywhere music service turns data insights into beautiful, bold visuals, informing their listeners of how many hours of songs they listened to in a year and ranking most-listened-to artists. They also help artists get the most from the platform by highlighting listeners by location and discovery sources.

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Fan insights by Spotify

Square Zeros In On Peak Hours and Favorite Items

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Going beyond credit card payments to comprehensive business solutions, Square provides business owners with real-time reports that include hourly sales by location, which help them hone in on peak hours and preferred products.

Strava Turns Everyday Activities Into Global Competitions

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Strava turns everyday activities into athletic challenges by comparing its users’ performance stats against the community’s for a given walk, run, or ride. The app also used its 136B data points to create the Strava Insights microsite, providing insight into cycling trends in its 12 cities across the globe.

Swarm Updates the Foursquare Experience with New Gamified Features

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Swarm adds additional gamification and social features to the original Foursquare check-in experience, providing users with their popular check-ins broken out by type, as well as friend rankings and leaderboards for nationwide “challenges.”

Triptease Builds Strong Relationships with Hotels

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The Triptease smart widget allows hotels to display real-time prices for rooms listed by competing sites like Hotels.com to help convince guests to book directly and help the hotel build richer customer relationships. To keep a strong relationship with their own hotel-users, Triptease shows the impact on revenue of widget-enabled conversions, as well as the hotel’s real-time price rankings compared to other websites.

Twitter Beefs Up Its Business Case

As the internet’s 140-character collective consciousness positions itself more decisively as a boon for businesses, it has beefed up and beautified its analytics dashboard. Twitter’s dashboard now includes impressions, profile visits, mentions, and follower change for the past month, plus cards for Top Tweet, Top Follower, and Top Mention.

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Vimeo Provides “Power” Stats in a Straightforward Interface

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“We basically wanted to give users a power tool, but didn’t want them to feel like they needed a license to operate it,” explains Vimeo senior product designer Anthony Irwin of the video-hosting platform’s analytics tool. Today, Vimeo’s 100M+ users can dig deep — or stay high-level — on traffic, engagement, and viewer demographics.

Yelp Extrapolates Conversion-Generated Revenue

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More than a ratings site for local businesses, Yelp also helps its 2.8M businesses engage and grow relationships with their customers. To highlight this value proposition, the company provides business users with a tally’s of customer leads generated through the platform, as well as a calculation of estimated related revenue.

Zype Helps Users Track Video Revenue

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With a single interface, Zype makes it easy to publish and monetize video content across various platforms. Core to its value is the ability to provide users with key stats including monthly earnings, new subscriptions, and successful revenue models.

Building analytics into your product? We can help with that. Check out Native Analytics.

Want to see your stats featured in our next post? Send us a note


Keen IO Instant Analytics for Web

Keen IO Instant Analytics for Web

Drop in this tracking snippet to effortlessly collect key web interactions like pageviewsclicks, and form submissions

Want to quickly test out Keen? Need to get a quick sense of the key interactions on your website or web app? You’re in luck! We just released an Auto-Collector for Web.

What does it do?

  • Drop in snippet to automatically collect key web interactions
  • Auto tracks pageviewsclicks, and form submissions
  • Auto enriches events with with information like referrers, url, geo location, device type, and more

Ready to get started? Copy-paste the following snippet into your website or web app’s <head> tag. Be sure to substitute and <YOUR_PROJECT_ID> and <YOUR_WRITE_KEY>. Make sure this snippet loads on every page where you want to collect data. It will load asynchronously so that it doesn't affect page load speed.

Once live, you’ll see data flowing into your Keen project within seconds. Check out our guide to learn more.

Happy Tracking!

Update: Once your data is flowing, you try out our new, free Auto-Collector Dashboard, learn more about it here.

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How Jawbone Uses Wearable Sensor Data to Drive Habit Change

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How Jawbone uses wearable sensor data to drive habit change

Think about every time you take a step, increase your pace, skip a heartbeat, roll over in the night. If you were to count each time, how many total actions would you have in a day, in a week, in a year?! How would you go about keeping track?

More importantly, how could all that data point the way to a happier, healthier life?

In this data and product design speaker series at Keen IO HQ, Sameera Poduri, Principal Data Scientist at Jawbone, describes how they harness wearable sensor data to help people make healthier choices every day. She covers critical considerations like:

  • What is the right architecture for streaming and processing data from a wearable device?
  • What do you do with the wearable sensor data once you have access to it?
  • How do you process and display personalized insights to each user?
  • How do you use the data to inform product features that drive behavior change?

Check out her talk below:

https://vimeo.com/166292120

We love chatting about wearable data analytics strategy. If you’re interested in enhancing your wearable device analytics, reach out to us anytime.

Want to be notified about the next live event at Keen IO? Sign up below to get on the invite list.


How Net-a-Porter Scaled Developer Culture for Their Massive E-Commerce Platform

Here’s the scene: your company was one of the pioneers in bringing retail to the internet. Your store has millions of monthly visitors. During your massively promoted sales, you see HUGE spikes in traffic. Every sale counts. And everything is running on one giant Java application.

This story isn’t fiction, it’s Robin Glen’s job. In this interview, he tells us about how his dev team re-architected the massive designer fashion site Net-a-Porter, and the organizational changes their technology teams made to do it.

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Net-a-Porter: Sometimes you need a $6,000 leather skirt!

What’s the focus of the tech team at Net-a-Porter?

So, the tech team is split into cross-functional customer focused sub teams; my team is made up of full-stack developers, test specialists, product owners, delivery managers. We’re responsible for the listing pages, product pages and site search — basically the entire product catalog. Right now our team is replatforming our architecture into micro-services and working on this concept of “headless commerce”. This allows for the entire e-commerce platform to be front-end agnostic.

How did the decision to move to “headless commerce” come about?

When Net-a-Porter was started, our e-commerce site was one big giant Java application, which is probably quite a common situation. Our delivery rate was too slow and we wanted to move towards continuous integration, but we had this big application that didn’t have great testing around. We needed to improve and evolve.

Was there a specific problem you were trying to solve?

We get a huge amount of web traffic whenever we launch a sale. There’s a massive amount of physical hardware you need to have for a short-term sale, which results in a lot of redundancy during normal times of traffic. This was obviously inefficient and a pretty big problem. We decided to break out the sales part of the site into a listing application in the cloud so we could have horizontally scalable applications to handle sale traffic.

This was a huge success and kicked off the concept of dev ops at Net-a-Porter, so developers were doing the ops and we were building full stack applications ourselves. This really opened the floodgates. As soon as the sale application was out, we began to look at every part of the site to see how we could make it scale horizontally, we are still on that journey.

How’s it going so far?

We’re still pushing towards Continuous Integration. We can do multiple releases a day. We don’t need regression testing, so we can actually move forward a lot faster. At a company of our size, innovation obviously gets a lot more expensive because you have to stay so far ahead, so all these things are helping us to keep moving forward.

Another interesting thing is the cultural shift that has occurred as a result of this change. It’s promoted a lot of ownership. Everyone in our team is able to quickly iterate and find out what’s been successful and not successful. The developers who write the applications are now also responsible for supporting them and for setting up monitoring alerts to make sure things are running.

It sounds like monitoring and alerting are pretty critical to ensure things are running. What role do performance metrics and analytics play in that process?

My colleague Matthew Green and I were tasked with answering the question “How can we make the website more performant?”. But in order to do that, we first had to answer the question “How can we measure our current performance?”. You can’t improve what you can’t measure.

So we started tracking browser performance metrics and reporting that data to Keen IO. We even extended this to collect performance metrics on client-side API calls. So now if I want to know how long it’s taking to see what’s in someone’s basket, or how long it takes to add something to the basket, we can do that.

As our experience and understanding grew, we started to add more granular metrics to help us identify and diagnose issues quickly

For example, when the website throws a 5xx error we can dive into real customer errors and I can say, “This page errors the most. In this country, that is where the problem is happening.” We use Keen to track any type of error into complete granularity. It enables us to identify errors in a customer’s experience across all parts of the site. Of course, with an e-commerce site, errors can be very expensive if you don’t diagnose and fix them quickly.

What makes my job easier is knowing: Are things working? Are they being used? If they are not, we can alert on them. We can do out-of-hours calls like, “Okay, the 500 errors have gone up. Send a text to the team,” or “The website is running slow. Send a text.”

Why did you choose Keen IO as your monitoring solution?

Keen gave me the granularity I wanted, complete control. How we use the data, visualize the data, it’s all in our control. We were doing a lot of work to get the metrics we needed, but the monitoring tools we had were not granular enough to tell us if our improvements were working. The data was not democratized. I wanted to be able to monitor anything and make it readily available.

What we’re using Keen for now is monitoring granular performance and availability, and for that it’s been perfect. We have a lot of ideas of what we want to do in the future and because of Keen’s openness it gives us is endless potential.

As an example, we tag all of our events with the build number of each application. We know how long it takes for a ticket to move through our workflow, we know how long it takes to run our build and test scripts, and now we know with how long it takes for customers to start interacting with new features. This data can give accurate development estimates to our business stakeholders.

So we can now accurately say how long a story or feature has taken from inception to real customer interaction.

What are you most excited about for the coming few months at Net-a-Porter tech?

We are market leaders in luxury fashion e-commerce and we’re on the path to making our customer experience even better. All of this re-platforming is going to unlock innovation. I want our customer experiences to feel as slick as a native app.

I’m a big believer in the web as a platform. The reason that it took off originally is because it’s frictionless. You don’t need to find a website in a store, buy it, download it, install it and launch it before you use it. I totally understand why native apps took the lead, they felt more responsive, they work offline, give you access to the device’s hardware, and overall they gave users a better mobile customer experience. This even lead some people to proclaim “the web is dead” and for a while maybe it was. Browser technology was in flux, no one could agree where mobile web was going and it stagnated, we fell behind.

This however seems to be changing. New web APIs are coming through rapidly, and thanks in part to Google’s great work, there’s no reason that we shouldn’t be able to create native-feeling apps on the web right now.

My goal is to show it’s possible to build, test, deploy, and monitor “progressive web apps” in production, at scale, for a large e-commerce websites.


Robin will be joining us in San Francisco on May 17th to dive deeper into how Net-a-Porter scaled their developer culture. If you’re interested in hearing more about their team, the infrastructure they’ve built, and their experience at Google I/O, be sure to register for our event on May 17th. Hope to see you there!


Product Spotlight: Keen IO Analytics for AppleTV and tvOS

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The digital media industry is marked by regular change and reinvention. As platforms change in popularity and power, companies must invest in new distribution channels to grow and engage audiences. At Keen IO, we support our customers by staying ahead of these trends and ensuring our cloud analytics platform is tuned to deliver unique capabilities and insights that are contextually relevant to each new major channel.

In this product spotlight, we focus on our solution for Apple TV and tvOS.

When a media company embraces a new distribution channel, the investment is often significant while the ROI is uncertain because the tools to manage performance are new and unproven. More simply, employing generic analytics tools is like flying a plane without computer-guided instrumentation. How can you effectively measure mobile in-app user events if you are using a tool that was designed to track pageviews? Some developers creatively hack a stopgap solution, but there is a better way.

Here at Keen, we intentionally built our platform to collect and deeply analyze data from anything connected to the internet. Media companies love that, and they have a word for it: omnichannel. It is this omnichannel architecture that enabled our customers to rapidly adopt tvOS analytics, just as in the past customers used Keen to power analytics in new data environments like the Pebble smartwatchTI microcontrollers, and the NASA Mars rover.

As a case study of our Apple TV analytics solution, we interviewed Keen customer AJ+, Al Jazeera’s digital-only division. For AJ+, Apple TV represented a major opportunity to capture market share and grow audience, provided the company can analyze sentiment and engagement in the new channel.

With a mobile integration already in place, AJ+ was able to immediately add event tracking to their tvOS app and start analyzing user behavior on Apple TV at launch. As with all Keen integrations, the tvOS integration provided real-time insights that informed AJ+’s production decisions and gave them a leg up over the other media companies in the Apple TV app store, boosting engagement by 133%.

“With Keen, we didn’t need to wait around for a tool to create a specific SDK or launch support for an emerging platform like tvOS,” said AJ+ Platforms Manager Alberto Naranjo. “After an extensive vetting and selection process, we found that Keen is currently the only solution capable of providing the custom insights we needed without forcing us to build our own analytics infrastructure. Keen saves us a ton of time and helps us make data-informed production decisions with real-time information.”

To learn more about Keen IO Analytics for Apple TV and tvOS please contact us to schedule a demo.


4 DataEngConf Talks We're Most Excited About

DataEngConf SF is around the corner and we can’t wait! The Data Engineering and Data Science communities have really been taking off over the last few years as companies look to build self-serve data tools and extract real-time insights from the massive amount of data at their fingertips.

Here are 4 of the talks we’re really excited about:

  • Bridging the Gap Between Data Engineering and Data Science — Josh Wills, Director of Data Engineering, Slack

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We’re excited to hear Josh talk about these important and interdependent functions. There is still a great deal of misunderstanding about the boundaries between the roles and the different constraints that each is operating under.

  • Beginning with Ourselves: Using Data Science to Improve Diversity at Airbnb — Elena Grewal, Data Science Manager, Airbnb

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Airbnb used data to change the composition of their team from 15% women to 30%, all while maintaining high employee satisfaction scores across the team. Diversity and inclusivity is important to us at Keen, and we’re thrilled to see a company like Airbnb leading the charge in using data for good.

  • Running Thousands of Ride Simulations at Scale — Saurabh Bajaj, Tech Lead, Data Platform, Lyft

How does Lyft power features like Lyft Line and driver dispatch so effortlessly? Luckily, Lyft has tons of data they can rely on to run simulations at scale to ensure the rider has a seamless experience every time.

  • Unifying Real-Time and Historical Analytics at Scale Using the Lambda Architecture — Peter Nachbaur, Platform Architect, Keen IO

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We’re excited that Peter will be talking about how we’ve scaled our analytics platform at Keen to process trillions of events per day for thousands of customers. He’ll share how we’ve evolved our custom query engine to unify real-time and historical analytics at scale using Cassandra, Apache Storm, and the Lambda Architecture.

You can check out check out all of the talks here.

If you want to hang out at DataEngConf with us, you can register for 20% offwith the code “KEEN20X”. Hope to see you there!


2015: A Data Odyssey

Happy 2016! We wanted to start this year off by saying THANK YOU for being a Keen IO user and community member. We also wanted to highlight some of the things we accomplished as a company and a community in 2015, and give you a sneak peek into what lies ahead for 2016.

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New ways to explore your data

We focused on making the power of our analytics API more accessible in 2015 by investing heavily in the Data Explorer — our point-and-click tool for querying and visualizing event data. We Open Sourced all of it so you can embed it into your workflow or share it as a tool with your users. We also added the ability to build custom funnels to the Explorer so you can track user drop-offs, conversions, and more.

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Faster and better

So many of you are embedding analytics into your product to share with end users or delivering analytics to teams so they can make day-to-day decisions with data. We added query caching and saved queries to make results and dashboards available faster than ever. We also DOUBLED our query speed and made these performance stats visible to everyone. zooom.

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Keen Pro aka the “Best Friends” Plan

We launched Keen Pro — a plan to help enterprises and companies use data as a competitive advantage. We’ve partnered with some awesome companies so far! Keen Pro is really more of a “best friends” plan, because we get to work with these customers super closely. Here are some of the perks:

Dashboard Caching: Load dashboards within sub-seconds every time, even if you have billions of events, multiple queries, or thousands of concurrent users looking at metrics.
Raw Data Access: Pipe your data to AWS for ultimate flexibility: run SQL queries, custom MapReduce jobs, and more. And permanently backup and enrich your data in real time to a system you control.
User Project Creation API: Programmatically create Keen projects and manage users to deliver white-label and embedded analytics at any scale.
Dedicated Data Engineer: Get expert assistance on metrics selection, data modeling, implementation, and ongoing optimization, with a single point of contact who knows the ins and outs of your business.

Your stories of data exploration and discovery

We grew our community a lot this year and we’re super excited to have new faces on board as employees, customers, and community members! Many of you shared your stories of data exploration and discoveryprojects you built(including a hamster tracker that was featured in the Wall Street Journal!), and lessons you’ve learned. We also launched and grew our community Slack chat to 800+ people in 2015. THANK YOU! Have an analytics project or use-case you want us to feature? Let us know.

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An embedded customer dashboard by Bluecore

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EMC {code} community dashboard

Culture and People

We care a lot about personal development at Keen IO, so much so that we “open sourced” many of our Learning Labs to the entire community! We hosted two learning labs on Effective Communication, and will be offering our Emotional Intelligence Learning Lab in 2016. We also kicked-off our coaching program, in which over 90% of Keen employees are involved!

Interested in personal development and effective leadership?

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Request an invite to our next Learning Lab!There’s a lot more, but these are some of the highlights we’re most proud of.

We’re excited to continue helping you, your teams, and your customers make exciting discoveries with data in 2016!

If you have any ideas or things you’d like to see, let us know or ping us on Slack.

Happy Exploring!

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How to scale your company culture.

Startup Summer Day Camp — an annual gathering of friends (old and new) in Golden Gate Park.

In March of this year, Alexa wrote a post on the Keen IO blog with the title you see above. In fact, the post you’re reading now is a variation of that post — only with a few additions (like this intro) and some updates to reflect the scaling that has actually taken place IRL over the last six months. Yay, reflection!

Beyond providing a fresh perspective on an ever-evolving topic (i.e., company culture), we also intend for this post to kick off a series of culturally-minded pieces of content, largely inspired by the archives at www.keen.io/blog.

Heeeeeeere’s Alexa!

[Alexa published the entry below on March 19, 2015; updates to follow]

Your company culture is what you collectively believe and — in practice — what you collectively do. It shapes how people work together, how you deal with problems that arise, how people feel when they meet someone from your company. Derived from a company culture is typically a set of values and beliefs, such as transparency, collaboration, or trust.

What do these values actually mean, though? If I’m a new employee coming into an organization, am I expected to know how to convey these values? No. Of course not. That’s why companies instill their cultural values in all kinds of different ways. For example, at Facebook the value “moving fast and breaking things” is introduced during onboarding. But instead of just telling people to “move fast and break things,” Facebook sends all new employees off for 6 weeks to literally code new things, break things, and learn from seasoned “fast movers and breakers”.

At Keen, we value introspection: the examining of one’s own mental and emotional processes. We believe this is important for sanity, harmony, and productivity in the workplace.

One way we support introspection is through a weekly activity called Anxious/Excited, where we all get together to share the things we’re anxious about (work-related or otherwise), along with the things we’re excited about. Anxious/Excited (A&E) is such an integral part of our culture that we frequently invite people to participate if they’re thinking about joining the company. It gives them a chance to see what we’re like in our most reflective moments and get a sense of what it would feel like to work here.

Sharing stories at our company retreat in Costa Rica

I often tell people outside of Keen about this activity and the reaction I typically get is, “That’s great, but how do you scale that?” The answer: you don’t.

The commonly referenced “do things that don’t scale” for startup growth can apply to the expression of cultural values, too. What’s key to cultural scalability and success is a shared understanding of the company’s values and a commitment to revising and evolving how they’re expressed as the organization grows.

Sounds straightforward, but oftentimes organizations that should be working toward the same goals and values end up fighting over tactics, resulting in a toxic and unproductive environment.

Values > Tactics

When Keen was small (as in 6 employees working out of the founders’ living room), A&E was an excellent tactic for introspection. Everyone was working together day in and day out. Some days were stressful, some days were happy. Everyone was close. Taking time to share and reflect at the end of the day was not only valuable, it was easy.

We are now at 40 people, and as you can imagine, A&E is not as effective as it once was. Debates have emerged on “how do we scale A&E?” How do we recreate the feeling of safe space and intimacy that allows people to open up and be introspective?

In times like this it’s helpful to think about why we did A&E in the first place. If we look back to our value of introspection we can see this “scaling problem” from a different, more open lens. There may be a totally different and better way to support introspection at 40 people than 6, and yet another way to do it at 100, 200, and 1000. The key is stay committed to our values, and to evolving the way they’re expressed.

We’ve already evolved A&E to make it work better for more people:

  • Two time slots for A&E
  • Remote A&E (for our remote employees) + In-Person A&E

We’re also starting to think about other ways to support an introspective culture, such as:

  • Team-based A&E vs. the entire company
  • Company reflection time for personal journaling, or shared wiki/internal blog
  • Bringing in an onsite psychologist and coach to help talk through problems
  • Having a writer’s workshop to explore the issues and processes on our minds

The bottom line is: Don’t be afraid to let go of your cultural tactics. In fact, you should be constantly evaluating them. Are they still working? Do they still represent the value you intended? Be committed to evolving. Remember why you decided to implement an activity in the first place, even if that leads you to an entirely new approach.

How have you scaled your company’s culture and values? We’re still figuring this stuff out, and would love to hear your ideas. Feel free to tweet at me or share your thoughts in the comments below.

</end Alexa’s post>

UPDATES:

Thanks, Alexa! Since she was kind enough to share her insights on scaling (or not) your culture-focused activities and consciously allowing your values to evolve, I thought I’d take a turn and let y’all know how things have changed since March…

We’re just above 40 employees (steadily approaching 45!), so the number of people involved in fostering the company’s culture hasn’t grown a lot. That’s given us a chance to work on the non-people-body part of the culture: value-driven tactics.

The latest news on items Alexa mentioned:

  • A&E: The remote version has shifted to a different time slot, to better accommodate for time zones and schedules of remote employees who typically attend. And an adjustment like this is now easier, since we handed ownership of the calendar event to remote representative, instead of someone who’s based in SF (duh.) We maintain over a participation rate of over 50% within both versions of A&E combined.
  • Onsite psychologist and coach: We now have two full-time team members (Jen and Lisa) who are focused on people development and personal growth (aka, big contributors to culture), through a formalized coaching program and employee education via regularly occurring “learning labs.” We’ve held multiple Effective Communication labs — both internally for employees and externally for our fellow community members in SF. And our second learning lab, on Emotional Intelligence, is coming soon!
  • Writer’s Workshop: We’ve completed three of these day-long workshops, in addition to a docs-jam (where we all contributed to Keen’s public-facing documentation, to help our customers be more awesome.)

The newest additions to our cultural repertoire:

  • Town Halls, World Cafes, Metrics Mondays, & AMAs: each is an all-hands gathering in its own right. They occur at different frequencies, in different formats, and are designed with varying degrees of interaction/participation amongst attendees. Each aims to provide a platform for inclusive, open, honest, and productive interactions that build trust and transparency.
Solving problems at Keen HQ during our World Cafe.
  • Trellis — a new feedback process: this is our form of the more traditional performance review. Yet to be fully implemented, we hope it will facilitate helpful feedback loops in a manner optimally aligned with our culture. (more on this, once it’s in place!)
  • Introducing RACIs: R-A-C-I stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed. It’s a matrix (shared document or set of docs) that serve as a tool to establish more clarity, understanding, and expectations around roles and responsibilities, at the team- and the organization-level. This has already increased efficiency and effectiveness for teams and individuals alike.

As you can see, we’ve been busy trying new things and determining what works (and doesn’t work) for us. Every person and every group of people (aka, company) is different. We hope that this bit of sharing is valuable for you, and we’d love to hear about your experience navigating this interesting aspect of building a business. Please share in the comments below and/or tweet us at @Keen_IO.

Oh yeah, and if you’re interested in data analytics, we can help with that, too 📊😉.

— this post put together by Tim Falls — VP, Community at Keen IO.

Want to get stuff like this delivered to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter. 📧📭


Announcing Keen Pro - Fast, Flexible, Embedded Analytics

We’re super excited to announce Keen Pro, a brand new set of features that makes it easier than ever to provide fast analytics to your teams or share customer-facing analytics with your users.

What’s new?

  • Dashboard Caching: Load dashboards within sub-seconds every time, even if you have billions of events, multiple queries, or thousands of concurrent users looking at metrics.
  • Raw Data Stream: Pipe your data to AWS for ultimate flexibility: run SQL queries, custom MapReduce jobs, and more. And permanently backup your data in real time to a system you control.
  • Account Provisioning API: Programmatically create Keen projects and manage users to deliver white-label analytics at any scale.
  • Dedicated Data Engineer — Get expert assistance on metrics selection, data modeling, implementation, and ongoing optimization, with a single point of contact who knows the ins and outs of your business.

Why now?

Over the past three years at Keen, we’ve focused on building the most flexible API for data collection, analysis, and visualization. During that time, we’ve seen all the use cases that have emerged, and here’s what we noticed. Tons of you are using Keen not only to share data with your teams, but also to build analytics right into your products so you can display personalized data to your customers. Check out this cool dashboard from Bluecore:

0_ThsuELZr0IKVJsNt

Bluecore uses Keen to provide critical marketing analytics to e-commerce companies

Of course, if you’re serving up analytics as a core product feature, you want to be able to create new data projects automatically, show customers personalized data, and display results fast. We built Keen Pro to make it easy and quick to deliver customer-facing analytics, so you can stay focused on building your core product and wowing your customers.

We’re incredibly excited about the possibilities this opens up for our users. If you’d like to learn more about Keen Pro, feel free to reach out to us anytime or ping us on Slack. We’d love to hear from you!

Learn More


How to Write a Round-Closing Pitch Deck

Last July, we hit a huge milestone when we closed $11.3 million in Series A funding led by Sequoia. This raise was preceded by a few seed rounds. Of course, this was amazing for Keen, but the road to closing these rounds weren’t easy. It took several tries to get to the pitch deck that worked.

Our co-founder Dan Kador recently gave a talk at 500 Startups about the process Keen went through to get to the winning deck (for one of our seed rouds). We hope it will be helpful for anyone going through fundraising mode now, or looking ahead to a future fundraise!

https://vimeo.com/125655195

The slides

Do you have any other tips for writing pitch decks? We’d love to hear them on twitter or in the comments below.


Integrate Eventbrite and Keen IO in 60 Seconds

We were getting ready for an event recently and wanted an easy way to visualize all of our Eventbrite registrations. Eventbrite has handy webhooks that enabled us to quickly start sending our registration data to Keen IO. We used this data to build a dashboard to share with our team and promotional partners:

0_WP9RQ3QBEtc7gUop

130 people will be at Open Source Show and Tell! woohoo

Here’s what you do:

  1. Create a free Keen IO account if you haven’t already
  2. Grab your Keen Project ID and Write Key
  3. Head over to your Eventbrite Account page
  4. Scroll down and click on ‘Webhooks’
  5. Add a webhook with your Keen URL:https://api.keen.io/3.0/projects/<KeenProjectId> /events/Eventbrite_Events?api_key=<KeenWriteKey>
  6. Watch your registration events start flowing into Keen!

Once your Eventbrite data is flowing in, you can use the Keen IO data explorer to start querying and visualizing your Eventbrite registrations.

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A view of our daily eventbrite registrations

Or you can use our JavaScript library to create your very own custom dashboard to share with your team! We got our event dashboard live on the interwebs super quickly using Divshot.

Let us know if you have any questions. Have a great event!


The Social Authoring Experiment

0_9uXUImCKyfxsHR1E.png

We are excited to be supporting Keen IO community members in AirPair’s social authoring experiment!

What exactly does this mean? Well, have you ever tracked changes in MS Word and thought “there has to be a better way?!” Us too! AirPair has released some pretty cool features that allow authors and readers to collaborate on posts on github, just like normal code via forks and pull requests. Over the next 12 weeks you can submit posts and collaborate with the community on the best tutorials, opinion pieces and tales of using Keen IO, FirebaseRethinkDBTwilio, and others in production.

One of our community members, Mark Shust already submitted an awesome post about Making a Keen IO Dashboard Real-time by Integrating it with Firebase & D3.js. You can check it out, leave a review, and make edits!

Submit your posts here.

Have questions or just want to toss an idea by us? Feel free to reach out to us.


How to Scale Your Company Culture

Your company culture is what you collectively believe and — in practice — what you collectively do. It shapes how people work together, how you deal with problems that arise, how people feel when they meet someone from your company. Derived from a company culture is typically a set of values and beliefs, such as transparency, collaboration, or trust.

What do these values actually mean, though? If I’m a new employee coming into an organization, am I expected to know how to convey these values? No. Of course not. That’s why companies instill their cultural values in all kinds of different ways. For example, at Facebook the value “moving fast and breaking things” is introduced during onboarding. But instead of just telling people to “move fast and break things,” Facebook sends all new employees off for 6 weeks to literally code new things, break things, and learn from seasoned “fast movers and breakers”.

At Keen, we value introspection: the examining of one’s own mental and emotional processes. We believe this is important for sanity, harmony, and productivity in the workplace.

One way we support introspection is through a weekly activity called Anxious/Excited, where we all get together to share the things we’re anxious about (work-related or otherwise), along with the things we’re excited about. Anxious/Excited (A&E) is such an integral part of our culture that we frequently invite people to participate if they’re thinking about joining the company. It gives them a chance to see what we’re like in our most reflective moments and get a sense of what it would feel like to work here.

0_bYCzOIh9G6SZ-hMZ

I often tell people outside of Keen about this activity and the reaction I typically get is, “That’s great, but how do you scale that?” The answer: you don’t.

The commonly referenced “do things that don’t scale” for startup growth can apply to the expression of cultural values, too. What’s key to cultural scalability and success is a shared understanding of the company’s values and a commitment to revising and evolving how they’re expressed as the organization grows.

Sounds straightforward, but oftentimes organizations that should be working toward the same goals and values end up fighting over tactics, resulting in a toxic and unproductive environment.

Values > Tactics

When Keen was small (as in 6 employees working out of the founders’ living room), A&E was an excellent tactic for introspection. Everyone was working together day in and day out. Some days were stressful, some days were happy. Everyone was close. Taking time to share and reflect at the end of the day was not only valuable, it was easy.

We are now at 40 people, and as you can imagine, A&E is not as effective as it once was. Debates have emerged on “how do we scale A&E?” How do we recreate the feeling of safe space and intimacy that allows people to open up and be introspective?

In times like this it’s helpful to think about why we did A&E in the first place. If we look back to our value of introspection we can see this “scaling problem” from a different, more open lens. There may be a totally different and better way to support introspection at 40 people than 6, and yet another way to do it at 100, 200, and 1000. The key is stay committed to our values, and to evolving the way they’re expressed.

We’ve already evolved A&E to make it work better for more people:

  • Two time slots for A&E
  • Remote A&E (for our remote employees) + In-Person A&E

We’re also starting to think about other ways to support an introspective culture, such as:

  • Team-based A&E vs. the entire company
  • Company reflection time for personal journaling, or shared wiki/internal blog
  • Bringing in an onsite psychologist and coach to help talk through problems
  • Having a writer’s workshop to explore the issues and processes on our minds

The bottom line is: Don’t be afraid to let go of your cultural tactics. In fact, you should be constantly evaluating them. Are they still working? Do they still represent the value you intended? Be committed to evolving. Remember why you decided to implement an activity in the first place, even if that leads you to an entirely new approach.

How have you scaled your company’s culture and values? We’re still figuring this stuff out, and would love to hear your ideas. Feel free to tweet at me or share your thoughts in the comments below.


Net Neutrality and Startups: Talking with the FCC and Congress about an Open Internet

Yesterday marked a huge moment in the fight for net neutrality and an open internet. After years of contention and debate, the FCC voted to ensure that the internet remains an open utility uncontrolled by corporate interests. If you’re anything like us, you’re probably breathing a huge sigh of relief.

We’re also super proud, though, that a member of the Keen team had the opportunity to speak to members of the FCC and Congress on the subject of net neutrality on the eve of this critical vote.

Two weeks ago, our very own Dan Kador joined a handful of representatives from other startups in a fly-in to Washington D.C. to offer up some perspective on how the policy could affect the startup industry. Here’s Dan with more info on exactly what went down:

How and why did you get brought into this whole thing? The FCC invited a bunch of startups to discuss net neutrality, right? For what reason? What other startups were invited along with you?

Caroline [part of our Advocacy team] sent us an email from a group called Engine. They were looking to send startup folks who are interested in net neutrality to Washington D.C. to speak with members of the FCC, House, and Senate. I connected with them, and they were eager to get a group together before the FCC announced its decision.

Washington is used to hearing from the big guys. Comcast, Verizon, even Netflix — they’re the ones spending garbage bags full of money on this. They don’t get to hear from young companies like ours, and they’re eager to hear our perspectives.

Alongside Keen, we had representation from Vimeo, Etsy, Foursquare, Union Square Ventures, Bigger Markets, Capitol Bells, and Spend Consciously.

What was the itinerary like? Where did you go? Who did you speak to? What was the format? What did they ask you?

They call it a “fly-in”. We take one day and try to have as many meetings as possible. I flew into D.C. Wednesday night. We met as a group Thursday morning at the Mandarin Oriental, then walked over to the FCC. Our first meeting was with FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel and her staff. We introduced ourselves and then discussed why net neutrality was important to us. Rosenworcel is an ally, so we spent much of the meeting talking about how we could best use our time in DC with people who weren’t as aligned with us.

Then we met with members of FCC Chairman Wheeler’s staff. This meeting was mostly spent on digging into some of the specific details of what the FCC might rule on. Things like interconnection, paid prioritization, and zero rating. Our goal was to have the FCC write rules that were as simple and as clear as possible.

After that, we had a series of meetings with staff of various senators and representatives. In these meetings, we had a few goals. The biggest was to impress upon them that we wanted them to support the FCC’s decision. One big risk is that Congress might wade into this debate and try to legislate. Our belief is that we can get much stronger and better protections if the FCC is left to its own devices. Any legislation that passes the Republican-controlled Congress is going to be worse for net neutrality than what the FCC has now passed.

What were the points that you made in these discussions? Basically, why do you think net neutrality is important — both as an average person and as someone at a startup?

There were a couple important points we were trying to make.

First, that net neutrality is essential for entrepreneurship, especially in tech. Without net neutrality, large incumbents could easily pay to enforce their monopoly over a particular industry. Imagine if Comcast could charge its internet subscribers extra for access to the next YouTube but give access to Hulu for free? It would stifle innovation.

We also wanted to make the point that startups need simple and understandable rules for how to bring complaints. If I have a reasonable belief that I’m being made to pay more for my service’s traffic, I need a quick and easy way to bring that complaint to the FCC and have action taken quickly. Otherwise, there would be a strong stifling effect on innovation. Imagine if the process involved spending millions of dollars on lawyers and several years? No startup could grow under those circumstances.

As an average person, this is really important. One of the main reasons we’ve seen so much innovation over the last 30 years is because of the internet. If it suddenly became an uneven playground, we’d see a lot less growth. I don’t want a small group of ISPs deciding what technology wins and what technology dies. I want consumers to decide. We get that with net neutrality.

Last, but definitely not least, I think high-speed access to the internet is a fundamental human right at this point and the FCC’s ruling helps protect that.

0_zH581lXV2YsU4Drg.jpg

That’s Dan in the middle, with the bowtie!

Anyway, we don’t want to say that Keen helped definitely save the Internet or anything, but we’re super proud that we had the chance to speak on behalf of startups like us. Great job, Dan!