Faster Insights with the Analysis Workspace

Stop me if this sounds like something you or your colleagues have run into before: You’re analyzing customer segments to find some insights you can use in your marketing activities, but you run into a limitation in your analytics tool around segmentation or comparisons or breakdowns. You know the data has a story to tell, but your analytics tool limits how you ask and answer questions. Even complex segments and Excel aren’t cutting it. Fortunately, you’ve got your clickstream data available in your EW or big data platform, so you should be able to query it as flexibly as you need. Unfortunately, that query takes four hours to run. Frustrated, you give up on your task and get an espresso instead. Not very helpful from a marketing perspective, but at least it tastes good.

As we talk to the world’s biggest brands about their marketing goals, two trends become crystal clear. First, data is becoming more complex, as organizations combine many sources of data to enhance their understanding of their customers, their marketing programs, their channels, and their properties. Second, more marketers and analysts (in terms of users of analytics tools) need access to the insights contained in this data faster than ever before. These trends are in direct opposition to one another. As data gets bigger and badder, getting answers slows down, and access to the data becomes more limited and harder to manage.

This dichotomy is what Adobe Analytics is beginning to solve with our Analysis Workspace, including the Freeform Analysis tool that we debuted as a Sneak at Adobe Summit in Salt Lake City earlier this month. How do we enable marketers and analysts to get answers from their growing customer and marketing data faster than ever before? By improving the flexibility of our web-based tools and enabling analysts to curate analysis projects for their business partners, enabling this latter group to use analytics data to do their jobs much more easily.

What is the Analysis Workspace?

If you own Adobe Analytics or Adobe Analytics Premium, and you are an admin-level user, when you now log in to Adobe Analytics you see a new option in the capability navigation directly under “Reports & Analytics:”

This new Analysis Workspace is available to you as a public beta. This means that it is included as part of our widely available toolset, with the caveat that development is ongoing and we will be updating the tool frequently, both to add new functionality and to fix issues that you report to us in our user forums. Only owners of the Adobe Analytics solution will have this option available. Access for non-admin users is coming soon, along with a number of features currently being built.

Within the Analysis Workspace, you will find the Freeform Analysis tool, which allows you to combine dimensions, metrics, segments, and date range in any combination, with unlimited breakdowns and comparisons, to answer questions at the speed of thought. Almost as quickly as you can ask a question of your data, the Freeform Analysis tool can provide you with answers. It does this in two ways.

First, flexibility. Never before on the web has a tool given you so much control over how you want to view your data. Use segments as dimensions. Break down dimensions by a date range. Compare as many segments as you want. The sky is the limit. This tool is all about data discovery—helping you iteratively ask questions and get answers to discover what you don’t know. In fact, when our engineering team started work on this project, even I was not sure that the web could support the level of flexibility that analysts and marketers demand. But new JavaScript frameworks make possible things that could previously only be done using thick clients that you have to install in your operating system. The Freeform Analysis tool provides the same customizability, but does so on any device. It works great on my iPad. You are no longer bound by the choice between web and flexibility. Build your analysis project in whatever way best answers your question.

Second, speed. As mentioned above, there is usually a tradeoff between “big data” and “fast queries.” Years ago, when Adobe released the SiteCatalyst 15 platform, you loved the addition of segmentation, full subrelations on everything, and metrics available in new places. The real innovation, however, was the underlying big data platform for marketing which includes the ability to query billions of rows in mere seconds. At that point, our speed limitation became rendering the results of those queries in our web UI, not obtaining the data. The Freeform Analysis tool introduces a new method for querying your data which really unlocks the power of the Adobe Analytics platform in ways that even Ad Hoc Analysis has never been able to do, returning and rendering results significantly faster than ever before.

What’s next?

I hope that you will use the Analysis Workspace and provide us with feedback of all varieties via our user forums, because we are not even remotely close to “finished.” So what is up next for this new area of Adobe Analytics?

The Freeform Analysis tool is just the first of many analysis tools that we will be making available in the Analysis Workspace. For those of you who have ever used Adobe Photoshop, you can almost think of it like the “Tools” rail in that product; no matter what image you have open, items like the Blur tool and the Paintbrush tool give you total control over your own workflows. From contribution analysis to clustering and everything in between, we hope to give analysts in the Analysis Workspace the same ability to perform both simple and advanced operations on their analysis to create their own universes with the same creativity and flexibility that photo editors bring to Photoshop.

We also know that adoption of analytics and data in your broader organizations is exploding. It isn’t enough to enable powerful analytics workflows; analysts need to be able to democratize the power of the Adobe Analytics platform, and the unique insights that it provides. At the same time, business users often struggle to understand how to ask the right questions of their data. As part of this Analysis Workspace public beta, we will soon be making available a curation capability, and a set of guided analysis workspaces that analysts can use to help guide others in their organizations to insights in their specific areas of focus.

This ability to build a role-based analysis project and then curate it will allow non-analysts to find their own insights, without overwhelming them with dimensions, metrics, and segments that aren’t relevant to their data needs, or haven’t been implemented. These guided analysis workspaces will also expose new, friendlier ways to interact with data, including built-in comparisons, improved context, and interactive data visualizations. The beginnings of the curation and guided analysis concepts are available in the Analysis Workspace, in the form of saving, managing, and sharing projects. You can share a project directly from the Analysis Workspace:

And here’s a shot of the new Project Manager, which lets you copy, tag, delete, filter, and share in bulk:

Right now, projects can only be shared with other admins, but this will be changing very soon. And, of course, there’s a lot more that we want to do by way of curation and guided analysis over the coming months. That’s why this is an ongoing beta project.

And your feedback is critical! Because this is a public beta—something we’ve done rarely in Adobe Analytics—the process for support and feedback is a little different than with other releases. All issues/bugs, questions, and feature requests will be submitted on the Adobe Forums, in a special sub-forum set aside for this purpose. Customer Care will not be handling these requests, but members of the Adobe community management team, the Adobe Analytics product management team, and the Adobe Analytics engineering team will be interacting with you directly in the forum. If you click the “Beta Feedback” button in the Analysis Workspace, you will be taken there directly.

It’s also worth noting that when you access the Analysis Workspace for the first time, you’ll see a set of helpful “coach marks” which will orient you to the space, and remind you of everything I just described.

It’s an exciting time to be involved with Adobe Analytics. As I sat with many of you and your peers at Adobe Summit, and described the Analysis Workspace as well as the concepts of curation and guided analysis, I heard reactions like “How can I get this sooner?” and “This makes me want to put all of my data inside of Adobe Analytics!” As a product manager, these are rewarding but humbling moments. We’ve got a lot to do, and it’s all aimed at giving you more power and flexibility to drive your business with data.

Welcome the future of Adobe Analytics.