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The future of SaaS analytics lies beyond in-app reporting

Customers are demanding data access from their SaaS providers, creating an opportunity to go beyond traditional in-app analytics
Written by
Alec Whitten
Published on
17 January 2022

It's inevitable—at some point in your SaaS product's lifecycle, you'll consider adding analytical capabilities (if you haven't already). Clearly, your application collects, generates, and/or unifies incredibly valuable information, and giving your users access to analyze that data is a worthy proposition. As this blog post will explore, customers are increasingly demanding access to the underlying data itself, presenting a new, lucrative opportunity for SaaS vendors to enhance their offerings beyond in-app analytics.

Data as the Top Priority

A new power center is growing within customer organizations: the data team. These teams are mandated to drive company-wide transformations around decision-making, operations optimization, and customer experience enhancement. Unsurprisingly, data teams are voracious data consumers and need data for many reasons, such as:

  • Conducting their own analyses, which might involve filtering, transforming, or visualizing data in ways unique to the company.
  • Joining multiple internal and external datasets to create proprietary datasets for company-specific dashboards, advanced data science techniques, or AI model training.
  • Launching their own data-driven applications, building data products, and creating new customer experiences.

The Limitations of In-App Analytics

Today's SaaS products offer valuable in-app analytics—typically to the business unit directly using the software. For example, a sales manager should be able to easily see her team's open pipeline directly in Salesforce. However, when you start to consider customer data teams, in-app analytics unfortunately fall short.

For data teams, the current approach to accessing data proves challenging. In-app reporting is limited in structure, unscalable in size, and not programmatic. As a result, they often turn to extracting data via the SaaS company's API. Consuming data via API requires a lot of integration work, custom scripting, or third-party tools before the data can be used. In fact, a recent Forrester survey found that 70% of a data team's time is spent ingesting and prepping the data, leaving very little time for analysis.

Empowering Customers through Data Access

Leading SaaS providers like Stripe, Salesforce, and Mixpanel have recognized this opportunity and now offer access to data directly in the customer's native analytical environment (typically a data warehouse like Snowflake, Redshift, or BigQuery). This approach allows customer data teams to skip the time-consuming integration process and start working with the data immediately.

Data Access positions the SaaS provider as a facilitator of advanced analytics, rather than a bottleneck. It signals to potential and existing customers that the SaaS provider is confident in the value of its data, understands the modern analytics landscape, and is committed to supporting its customers' success in an increasingly data-driven world. This differentiation is particularly important in today's saturated SaaS environment, where customers use over 130 SaaS solutions across their business.

Tangible Benefits of Data Access

While the trend of providing Data Access is new, the benefits are clear:

  • Upsell Opportunities - The data integration market is estimated to be upwards of $11B annually. Data teams have their own budgets, and they’re currently spending money on these integration tools.  By sharing data directly where customers want it, SaaS providers can capture this value and eliminate the middleman. For example, Mixpanel charges a 20% premium on their base ACV for direct data access.
  • Stickiness and Adoption - Most SaaS vendors sell into a single business unit (e.g., Salesforce sells into Sales), but empowering a customer's data team allows the data to permeate beyond the immediate business unit into company-wide analyses, AI models, and even board decks, making the SaaS vendor a mission-critical partner.
  • Customer Satisfaction - Providing data access enhances customer satisfaction by giving them the flexibility and control they desire. It also fosters a more collaborative relationship between SaaS providers and their customers by reducing the need for third-party integration vendors.

Getting Started with Data Access

Given the undeniable benefits of providing customers with data access, many SaaS providers are beginning to invest considerable time, money, and resources to launch data access features. Concerns around data security, privacy, and governance are paramount, and SaaS companies must ensure robust data management and modeling practices to ensure a positive customer experience. Additionally, they need to provide sufficient support and documentation to help customers effectively use the data.

Fortunately, the emerging class of embedded data access solutions like Amplify can help. By embedding a solution built for this specific use case, SaaS providers can accelerate their product roadmap by over a year and launch data access features in a matter of days.


The movement towards enabling data teams to harness, analyze, and apply their data in innovative ways marks a strategic shift in the SaaS industry. By offering more than just in-app analytics, SaaS providers who embrace data access as a core component of their offering are not only meeting the evolving demands of their customers but are also paving the way for deeper, more meaningful partnerships.

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