It might be time to consider how much stickiness and utility self-service (ad hoc) BI could bring to your SaaS product, especially if your company is being inundated with customer reporting requests.

This year’s market has been especially volatile, and ad hoc reporting can help SaaS providers protect their bottom lines by increasing customer retention while decreasing overhead. According to Dresner’s 2020 Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study, “reporting retains all-time high scores” as the foremost business intelligence priority for enterprises. This presents your SaaS company with an opportunity to capitalize on the demand, strengthening customer relationships and reducing IT man hours in the process.

Boost Your Efficiency

Chances are, you’ve been fielding ad hoc reporting requests from your customers for some time now. Your IT staff is spending more time on custom reports than they are on installing, configuring, and maintaining the company’s hardware, software, systems, and networks — you know, the work they were hired to do. You have every intention of remedying the situation, but is now the right time?

Yes. Improving efficiency doesn’t just mean cutting unnecessary spending — it also means maximizing your existing resources. If you can’t afford an IT bottleneck long term, you most certainly can’t afford one now.

When ad hoc reporting requests come in one at a time, it can be difficult to see how much they’re costing your team in aggregate. Take a moment to crunch the numbers and actually weigh the cost of an ad hoc reporting solution against the money saved in reallocated human resources. How much would you save over the course of three months? Six months? A year?

One employee at a mid-sized pest control company authored 750 reports in his first year as their sole BI analyst. Consider how much of that demand is falling to your IT team right now.

Not only does transferring report building responsibilities to your customers give you more bandwidth, it also habituates them to an information system. And information systems are very sticky.

Retain Your Customers

A product’s stickiness is a function of its utility and permanence. The more useful it is, the more customers want to keep using it; the more difficult it is to stop using, the less likely they will be to do so.

Ad hoc reporting as an embedded SaaS feature boosts the host application’s utility and permanence. Your end users finally get direct control over their analytics and don’t have to wait for your overloaded IT team to fulfill their requests. This reduced time to insight means they will likely create more reports, increasing overall adoption. The better the experience, the likelier users will be to recommend your software to their future employers.

The analyst mentioned earlier estimates he saved his company tens of thousands of dollars using ad hoc reporting. In this respect, the application’s utility speaks for itself.

So utility is the “carrot” part of the incentive, but there’s also a “stick,” and that’s permanence. Ad hoc reporting has a way of cementing itself into workflows. Users grow accustomed to using a particular application and being able to accomplish certain tasks with it. Switching to a different system would also mean having to redesign the existing training program, create new training materials, and onboard everyone to the new solution. It would mean recreating all the company’s old reports using the new tool.

Ad hoc BI users are therefore strongly incentivized to stick with a BI solution that’s meeting their needs. A competing SaaS application may edge you out with one or another feature; but embedded ad hoc reporting will keep your customers loyal, at least long enough for you to respond with an enhancement or two of your own.