An enterprise IT pro's guide to Mixpanel analytics

Mixpanel CEO wants to help your organization make sense of an increasingly product-centric world

An enterprise IT pro's guide to Mixpanel analytics
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Relax, Mixpanel’s sales people probably aren’t going to pester you if you’re an enterprise IT pro. You’re not the target customer for this San Francisco-based provider of cloud-based analytics tools. 

But that doesn’t mean Mixpanel shouldn’t at least be on your radar since there’s a good chance you’re supporting people within your organization who might be using Mixpanel – we’re talking engineers, designers and other product development team members who want to get a better view of how their products are actually being used and received.

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Mixpanel’s sweet spot is tracking behaviors related to websites and mobile apps to deliver data that organizations providing that software can use to improve their offerings. A news organization, for example, could use Mixpanel to see how long people are watching their video clips, or a music app could use Mixpanel to learn how people discover their app and the steps they take before purchasing it. The company, which this week introduced new Dashboards to make sharing visibility into metrics easier, counts Amazon, Expedia, Uber and among its customers.

I’ve mainly been familiar with Mixpanel’s reports on Android and Apple iOS adoption, gleaned from apps that use Mixpanel’s technology. The company says it now tracks some 92 billion actions taken on the software and websites its customers offer.

Suhail Doshi, cofounder/CEO mixpanel Mixpanel

Mixpanel CEO Suhail Doshi: "Large companies are historically really bad at doing product analytics in general."

Suhail Doshi, co-founder and CEO of Mixpanel, says the venture-backed company has attempted to differentiate itself from the loads and loads of data analysis software on the market by being focused on product-based analysis.

“There are all these pieces of software in the world that do data analysis, big data or whatever you want to call it and it’s all pretty generic,” he says. “Frankly, it’s pretty boring.”

Doshi was inspired to build Mixpanel in 2009 after seeing people at a previous company where he worked building their own analysis system because they couldn’t find a more appropriate tool on the market. Just as an IT department might adopt a specific tool to manage servers or applications, product development and management teams needed their own tools, he says.

Mixpanel can be used to track any product that has an internet connection, though Doshi stresses that the company’s technology has mainly been used for watching software. Though he says it would be possible for a hardware maker, like a wireless router vendor, to synch up Mixpanel with its firmware to see how people are using its devices. Mixpanel once had a customer run its software to track use of a treadmill. “Those are atypical uses of our product,” he says.

However, Doshi does point out that as software finds its way into more places, from TVs to cars, there are potentially more application platforms for customers to monitor with its tools.

"Almost every company in the world is becoming a product-centric company," Doshi says. "As a result of that, we are seeing this rise in the product manager and people caring about products."

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