"When developers know how their applications are really being used “in the wild,” they will build better software, more efficiently, and with greater confidence. It’s common sense. Historically though, it has been virtually impossible to get this kind of real-world – or runtime – intelligence into the hands of developers and architects when they need it most – when they are deciding what to do next.
The emerging application analytics market offers unprecedented insight into how software is being used in the real world and gives multiple stakeholders – from developers to CIOs to business owners – a reliable way to measure and manage development investments. Like web analytics, application analytics correlates behavior with business results. Unlike web analytics, application analytics extends beyond browser clicks on a web page to include mobile and traditional client experiences as well as the business and back office tiers that tie all of these together.
While software developers may or may not consider web developers to be “real” developers, we can learn quite a bit from them since they focus on, and demand, empirical evidence in support of how their applications are really being used. In fact, even the most remedial “drag and drop” website developers not only expect to gather real-world usage statistics, they also know this information will be a critical factor in future development iterations. They know only a fool would build something with no way to measure both adoption and the business impact of that adoption.
Capturing runtime data is only part of the solution. Runtime intelligence must be converted into action. Software development is often much more complex than a typical website project for two reasons: The diversity of applications makes “one-size-fits-all” reporting impractical and the complexity of the development process itself makes turning runtime data into “intelligent action” much more challenging. In order to be effective, application analytics must overcome both of these obstacles.
Website developers also understand analytics can have direct financial value – but for this to be true, the results must be verifiable and public. Knowing an app is popular makes it even more popular – driving adoption and sales. This holds true for website destinations and mobile apps – but also for office, productivity and even development tools. Users want to benchmark themselves against their peers (usage patterns) and their applications against alternatives (the best tool for the job).
The exclusion of runtime intelligence from traditional development methodologies not only handicaps development, it diminishes the value of the software to those who matter most – the users and sponsors who are denied empirical evidence of their application’s impact.
I'm a believer that app telemetry/analytics is key in providing value in our apps and for our users. We need to stop the "Hey, do you use this feature?" madness. We wouldn't run a website without analytics would we? That would be crazy... So why do we have apps without it? My feeling is that that is just as crazy...
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