Empowering customers and employees with self-service data analytics

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How can you give your customers or employees the ability to analyse and visualise data on the performance and status of your products and services? By providing a self-service analytics tool and dashboard, you can empower people with more insight, confidence and satisfaction – as Elsewhen recently proved with our client, global satellite communications business Inmarsat.

Unlocking value from business data

Businesses today are creating, accessing and storing more information than ever before. This is not only structured data like  spreadsheets and databases – but also increasingly unstructured data, streaming in real-time from online transactions, social interactions, and IoT device sensors.

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However, on average, up to 73% of all data within an organisation goes unused for analytics. (Source: Forrester) This means that most of the potential value in a company’s data is never unlocked and utilised.

Conventional data analytics and business intelligence (BI) tools are also not accessible or usable by most business people – or by their customers. So even when potentially valuable data is made available, most people have no easy way to get insights from it.

Making data insights more available

Consumers are increasingly used to accessing data insights and visualisations about the products and services they use – whether that’s electricity usage recorded via a smart meter, financial analysis of their bank transactions, or an interactive summary of their digital music consumption. Business users are bringing these consumer expectations into their working lives – and want similar data insights from enterprise service providers.

In response, businesses are creating a variety of new digital tools and dashboards that make it quick and easy for customers and employees to bring data insights to life.

These self-service analytics tools enable customers or business users to run queries and generate reports themselves via a web browser or mobile app, without needing specialist IT assistance. 

Success with self-service analytics

Three factors are vital for delivering a successful self-service analytics tool:

Making the right data accessible for analytics

These self-service tools provide a range of basic analytic capabilities, based on an underlying data model. This data has usually been processed, simplified or scaled down, for clarity of understanding and ease of access. Making the right data available to the tool may require consolidation of siloed data sources, real-time data processing, and development of new application programming interfaces (APIs).

Understanding what users want to know

Rather than providing advanced general-purpose analytics, these tools are configured to answer a specific set of questions that users need answers to. For the tool to be truly useful, it must be created based on research and understanding of the most frequent and pressing user needs.

Making insights clear with design and visualisation

The goal of these tools is to deliver insights via an outstanding user experience (UX). Rather than just viewing data in lists and tables, they should provide graphical dashboards and interactive visualisations, to make the meaning and value of the data immediately clear.

Meeting industry demand for data insights

Our client Inmarsat is a leading enabler of data connectivity to the maritime industry. As an airtime service provider for many global fleets, Inmarsat enables the lifeline of connectivity for thousands of vessels across the world’s oceans.

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Fleet owners need to operate their vessels efficiently. Many of them already use Inmarsat’s connectivity to enable “smart ship” systems, sending real-time data to the fleet manager on metrics such as location, speed, engine performance and fuel consumption.

However, one area where fleet owners have lacked insight is on connectivity itself. They increasingly want to know how, when and where airtime is used – and to confirm that their connectivity meets Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

Previously, if a customer wanted to understand the connectivity performance for its vessels, Inmarsat would have to manually create a report from its various data logs, requiring cost, time and effort.

Inmarsat is committed to continuously improving its services to customers – and giving them clearer visibility into the connectivity they receive is an ideal way to achieve this.

Creating a self-service analytics tool in practice

Elsewhen worked closely with Inmarsat to create a new customer-facing online analytics tool, providing real-time and historical data insights on the connectivity experienced by each vessel.

Our team identified what relevant data existed – and where it lives in Inmarsat’s systems. We developed a new API that would enable the tool to access the data it needs for analytics. We also consulted with Inmarsat’s customers to determine which insights would provide the most value.

The tool gives Inmarsat’s customers a comprehensive picture of their vessels’ connectivity and airtime usage over a user-specified timeframe.

Gaining a visual representation of the status and location of each vessel helps fleet owners understand how connectivity may be affected by geography, weather and other factors.

It provides a responsive user interface for display on a range of devices – and is quick and easy to use, even when working with data for very large fleets.

The benefits of self-service insights

Creating a modern tool and API for visualising connectivity data is enabling Inmarsat to unlock new value for its customers. The anticipated follow-on benefits for Inmarsat include a reduction in manual work to resolve client queries, as well as improved customer satisfaction, loyalty and revenue.

The dashboard helps Inmarsat demonstrate to customers that they are getting a good service and value for money. Fleet owners can see at a glance where each of their vessels has travelled, the connectivity it has experienced, and for what purpose the airtime was being used. 

The implementation of this new product has enabled Inmarsat to hit a number of its strategic targets. As well as reducing burden on Inmarsat’s customer support team, the new tool has enabled its sales team to prove Inmarsat’s contract value and ROI to new prospects and existing customers.

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Elsewhen is a digital product consultancy based in London, UK. As a digital product consultancy partner to leading global brands, our services include digital transformation, digital strategy and digital product design consulting.

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