Follow the Customer? Follow the Developer: An Interview with Keen IO

Mark Boyd
Oct. 22 2013, 12:00PM EDT

Now with almost two years in operation, custom analytics cloud platform Keen IO believe they have both a strong analytics product for existing customers, and the potential to quickly move into emerging market domains in the years ahead. Their strategy? To win over developers first, and let the developers evangelize back to end customers. The company provides the Keen IO API to help businesses process information by defining each piece of data as an event that can be catalogued and analyzed.

"We are an analytics API company", Ryan Spraetz, Founder of Keen IO told ProgrammableWeb. "We make it easy for developers to build custom analytics applications without worrying about scaling, uptime, or server load.

"We are building a platform for developers, and following what is best for the developer community, so we are sort of following customers in that way."

Like other API products and developer-focused services, Keen IO believes the way to get developers on board is to minimize the amount of custom coding dev teams will need to do.

"For data recording, it is similar to one line of code in about 10 languages. For
data analysis, we have SDKs for that, and its basically one line of code. For visualization aspects, we pretty much have a click interface. So we are really focused on the developer experience," said Spraetz.

Keen IO Developer Evangelist Justin Johnson agreed: "Entry level developers will have no problems getting started, we are all developers here. The developer focus is part of our DNA."

At present, the team is focused on offering a white-label solution of SaaS vendors, and an analytics platform for analysts who want to create their own dashboards or data-driven workflows. For example, SaaS companies who want to provide analytics to their end customers, can use the Keen IO API to create an analytics service and provide it as a menu option seamlessly within their software-as-a-service delivery.

"Developers working with SaaS vendors could use our API in an afternoon," Spraetz says. It is how customers like ActiveProspect and Appio are already using Keen IO, "mainly as a web portal: they use it as an analytics tab in their app."

In addition to the white-label analytics product for the SaaS market, Keen IO have some customers who are using the analytics capabilities directly to create their own reporting dashboards, or to carry out particular functions. For example, some businesses use the API to manage event data that tracks customer support cases in order to display data and give a much better context to the liaison rep working to solve problems with customers.

"We are also seeing traction in the gaming and edtech industries. Both of those are using Keen IO more for internal analytics," Spratez said.

But perhaps one of the most exciting potential uses of the analytics platform is the Internet-of-Things. Spraetz explains the fit: "Normally, with the Internet of Things, devices are connected to the Internet through an API, so there has been no way to get analytics. Because our analytics solution is not built for web, its not built for mobile, its a platform solution, so without those constraints it can be used by any device. Because it is inherently an API model, it fits very well within the IoT world, where APIs are the right solution for a connected world."

Keen IO may well be on to something, few services have considered the opportunities for providing an analytics platform for the Internet of Things. Connected home dashboards, logistics tracking, even automating greenhouse machinery for an IoT-driven agricultural project could all be carried out by using the Keen IO API. But the potential in these markets is still some way off. The trick for the company now is to generate enough revenue through its current SaaS and other internal analytics customer markets to still be around to capitalize on the IoT future vision.

Mark Boyd is a ProgrammableWeb writer covering breaking news, API business strategies and models, open data, and smart cities. I can be contacted via email, on Twitter, or on Google+.

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