No credit card required
At RAW we happily "eat our own dog food" – that’s the best way to give immediate feedback to our Product and R&D teams – and of course test the latest updates that are coming thick and fast.
As an emerging software vendor, we’re interested in key business metrics, but also understanding user behaviours so we can iterate and improve quickly. We also need to measure our outbound efforts vs. results, and where best to focus our time and budget. Lastly, we don’t want to wait for data to be collated, cleaned, integrated – we want it now.
We use RAW to connect to both our internal operational data and external data from software services that we use, and serve this up as an integrated data set via an API, which we then share around the company. Our users then connect to this API to pull out the data using many tools – such as an Excel Spreadsheet.
Let’s dig into how we create this Business Activity API.
Our Business Metrics & Data Sources
Here are some of our most important data sources and the metrics we want to get out:
- RAW User Registrations, Logins and System Usage – from inside our own platform
- Cloud Costs – from our cloud vendor reports
- Social Media metrics – we use primarily Twitter and Linkedin
- Website statistics (sessions, page hits and other Information) – we use Google Analytics
- Web site additions (blogs, news, videos) – we currently use WordPress
- Forum posts and other activity – we use Discourse
- Support tickets, resolutions and other metrics – from JIRA
We use our own RAW platform to query these, directly from source, and serve up a Business Activity API which is then made available securely within the company – and read directly from an Excel spreadsheet with standard Power Query functionality.
All the data is live, up to the minute too. No batches. No waiting.
Creating the Business Activity API
Because the result set we want is an integrated data set from many different sources, we actually create our API on top of many other APIs:
- those that are already provided by vendors and can be queried directly, for instance Twitter andJIRA,
- internal ones we implemented to conveniently wrap access to an underlying system, for example (a database or a storage system).
All this code is hosted in our GitHub. As we enhance the application and commit changesets to GitHub, our DataOps platform picks it up, validates it and deploy it instantaneously. You can read more about this over in documentation.
Using the Business Activity API
Now we have our API, we can call it using any method: Python, Curl, Java, etc. Here’s a Curl example:
That’s great for the techies, but this output is needed by more business facing people, and Excel and other end user tools are their friends. To use the API into Excel we can use standard Excel and Power Query functionality, via the dialogue box below (under “Data >> Get Data >> From Web” menu)
Excel is very easy to use, and many people are now comfortable with Power Query, refreshing external data sets, and even creating auto-refreshing, and parameterised calls to external data. You can of course use any BI / Reporting tool.
Our output uses standard Pivot Tables, which are fine for what we need, and flexible too. The data refresh comes from a standard “Data >> Refresh All” button on the ribbon. Here’s some examples of the type of analysis, remembering that this data comes from multiple integrated sources:
That’s it for this blog post – Hopefully you can see that it’s easy to use RAW to create a Business Activity API from your key data sets: operational, financial, marketing and support. The API which serves the data can be read from many popular tools, so dashboards are flexible and can grow as you need.