IT Science Case Study: Understanding How Customers Use Software

eWEEK IT SCIENCE: Revulytics Usage Intelligence data has made it much easier to understand the file types and manipulations customers actually use within Extensis font and image software.


Here is the latest article in an eWEEK feature series called IT Science, in which we look at what actually happens at the intersection of new-gen IT and legacy systems.

Unless it’s brand new and right off various assembly lines, servers, storage and networking inside every IT system can be considered “legacy.” This is because the iteration of both hardware and software products is speeding up all the time. It’s not unusual for an app-maker, for example, to update and/or patch for security purposes an application a few times a month, or even a week. Some apps are updated daily! Hardware moves a little slower, but manufacturing cycles are also speeding up.

These articles describe new-gen industry solutions. The idea is to look at real-world examples of how new-gen IT products and services are making a difference in production each day. Most of them are success stories, but there will also be others about projects that blew up. We’ll have IT integrators, system consultants, analysts and other experts helping us with these as needed.

Today’s Topic:  Giving users actionable insight into who’s using software and how they’re using it

Name the problem to be solved:  Extensis software helps more than 5,000 organizations increase their return on investment from fonts, digital assets and images. Without an accurate system to capture voice of the customer data, Extensis had no data to show how customers used their applications and required a more quantitative way to capture the customer’s voice in development, prioritize features more effectively and understand more about use cases.

“We had an acute problem,” Extensis Vice President of Development and Strategy Toby Martin said. “We’ve been around since long before any runtime intelligence was available, and we really didn’t know what was happening with customers who’d been with us for many years or even decades. As we shifted toward agile methodologies, we required a more quantitative way to echo the customer’s voice in development. We wanted to prioritize features more effectively, improve existing solutions and to drive entirely new ones.”

List the key components in the solution: Revulytics’ cloud-based software usage analytics gives product management teams deep visibility into how their products are being used and misused, providing them with actionable intelligence to generate revenue, optimize product development, and make data-driven decisions across their business. Revulytics’ Usage Intelligence brings a data-driven “Voice of the Customer” to the Extensis software development process by capturing comprehensive usage data about features, customers’ file types and manipulations, browser and system configurations and other aspects of user behavior.

Describe the strategy that went into finding the solution:  Extensis systematically compared three technology options for quantifying user behavior and chose Revulytics based on its strong technology, the best availability of data, the most helpful best practice guides and samples and a superior pre-purchase and post-purchase experience.

Describe how the deployment went, perhaps how long it took, and if it came off as planned:  “Implementing and working with Revulytics Usage Intelligence was easier than I expected,” Martin said. “We rolled out Revulytics software usage analytics across three development teams simultaneously, and they all had it embedded by their next releases.” Extensis taught a select group of users and made them “trusted advisors” to teach their teams, thereby democratizing usage of Revulytics across the organization. These trusted advisors now often share code and techniques wherever multiple teams need to solve similar problems.

Describe the result, new efficiencies gained, and what was learned from the project:  In just over a year working with Revulytics in production, Extensis has effectively utilized Revulytics data to drive change, innovation and customer voice in all our existing products. From mass market products to new server-based offerings, Extensis has released important new capabilities, largely based on Revulytics data about what customers actually do. By implementing Revulytics’ standardized technical stack for usage data across the development organization, Extensis has eliminated diverse reporting systems, inconsistent homegrown data sources, unnecessary tools and the management overhead that had previously accompanied these.

Revulytics Usage Intelligence data has made it much easier to understand the file types and manipulations customers actually use within Extensis software.  For example, with digital asset management, Extensis could choose to support many different file types — 3D, AR, VR, and many other categories. Previously, the company relied on customer surveys to gain insight into file types and other usage topics. Now, Revulytics data augments and in some places replaces costly user surveys, saving time and resources.

Describe ROI, carbon footprint savings, and staff time savings, if any: With Revulytics, Extensis knows exactly what customer environments actually exist and how its applications are being used. They’ve been able to decrease waste on edge cases and configurations that are rarely used. This has already translated to savings of $10,000 to $20,000 per release in QA time alone.

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...