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Gartner has predicted that by 2021, 75% of software providers will rely on insights from embedded software usage analytics to inform product management decisions and measure customer health (Predicts 2018: Technology Go-to-Market). Based on this prediction, we were interested to see where things stand today and wanted to get a better sense of how Product Managers are currently using customer data and listening to the voice of the customer.

Gartner has also included software usage analytics in several of its Hype Cycle reports and defines it as “the detailed tracking and analysis of users’ interactions within a software application. It is used by software providers and application developers to understand users’ behavior, providing insights to improve the user experience, prioritize feature enhancement, measure adoption and track licensing compliance.” While vendors like Pendo, Amplitude, Mixpanel, and Heap provide software usage analytics for web and mobile applications, Flexera offers software usage analytics for desktop and hybrid applications.

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To dig deeper into this, we created and promoted a survey to the members of the (very active) Product Management Networking Group on LinkedIn that I co-founded and we’re sharing the results today.

Seventy percent of the 319 respondents were Product Managers (we also saw responses from the C-suite, Marketing, Sales, and Engineering) with more than two-thirds of respondents working for software vendors. We suspect the findings will resonate with you and likely mirror conversations you’ve had with your colleagues about the best ways of understanding customer needs.

For example, we asked product managers to tell us, “What’s the one thing you would like customer data to tell you?” Here are some of the responses – how many of these have you asked yourself?

  • How our products are used. We offer several features but we know the vast majority of those features are never or rarely used. So what does the customer really want/care about? 
  • How closely do users follow the workflow we designed versus using the product in unanticipated ways 
  • What’s the percentage of people that switched from PC to Mac, or do they use both? 
  • Occurrence of a given event as a percentage of total. E.g.: number of users that clicked button A vs other buttons in the same menu 
  • Value of enhancements. We get suggestions all the time, but how much value is it really bringing to them?
  • What edge cases are we ignoring that could create new growth opportunities?

I don’t want to reveal any spoilers for the webinar and report here, but while you may not be shocked to learn that 97 percent of the respondents said customer data is useful for feature prioritization or roadmap development, it may be more surprising to learn that 58 percent indicated that their companies use customer data less than half the time to make product roadmap decisions.