Inside Mixpanel

Announcing 3x faster querying, workflow features, and more

Jessica Wang

Just a few months ago, we talked about how much growth we’ve seen in the analytics space for enterprise organizations this year. Since January, Mixpanel has brought on more than 70 new enterprise customers, closed more than 100 expansion deals, and seen a 41% increase in average new deal size. We have focused more and more of our product development on serving the needs of these bigger teams, and our customers are already benefiting from the advancements we’ve made.

As we head into the final stretch of 2017, we have more announcements in three key areas: infrastructure, features to improve workflows, and professional services. But first, a little bit more background on why we’ve focused our energy here.

The sheer volume of data out there is overwhelming. A 2016 Northeastern University study estimated that 2.5 exabytes (“exa” equals 10 ^18!) of data are generated every day – equivalent to 250,000 Libraries of Congress. And most of this data is noise, obscuring useful patterns and trends in the growing flood produced by our devices each year.

At Mixpanel, we think about this a lot in the context of our mission: help the world learn from its data. How can we help the world learn from its data when there’s too much data to comprehend? Already, we analyze seven trillion data points a year for our customers, and that number is growing every day.

Why are our customers—and the tech industry more broadly—generally successful at using their data, when others struggle? One reason is likely because of the kind of data Mixpanel collects and the analysis we specialize in: user behavior data for product analytics.

In fact, product analytics is one of the most under-valued ingredients in the growth of the technology industry, from established giants like Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Netflix, to rising stars like Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, and Dropbox. The winners of both the first dot-com rush and the current tech boom have a major thing in common: each one quickly learned how to harvest their customer data to build better, stickier products and take bigger (but well-informed) risks on new innovations and business models.

But we still have a long way to go. In a study we recently commissioned of enterprise product teams, Forrester Research found that only 12% of product managers and teams got actionable insights in minutes or less—and the vast majority have to wait days. It’s extremely difficult for teams on the front lines—the product managers, marketers, UX designers, embedded analysts—to get the information they need to make decisions quickly and decisively.

But, now, you don’t have to be a tech company to take advantage of enterprise-grade product analytics. Mixpanel has built it for you. Fortune 500 companies across industries as varied as financial services, media & entertainment, and B2B software already depend on us. Mixpanel customers see an average of 54% improvement in one year stock returns over the S&P 500 average.

So, why do Fortune 500 companies and the next generation of startups alike rely on Mixpanel for product analytics? Because our world-class reporting and messaging services live on top of an infrastructure custom-built for ingesting and querying user behavior data. Because our features were made to serve the full product analytics workflow across teams, from product managers to analysts and executives. And because our award-winning support and success teams bring decades of combined experience in analytics, honed further through daily contact with our 20,000 customers and their millions of tracked users, to help solve each client’s unique challenges.

Instant answers at global scale

Achieving flexibility without losing ease for the end user is about much more than new report types; it requires a datastore and backend that is specifically designed for asking questions about user behavior over time. While Mixpanel has always used a database model that optimizes for efficient user-centric queries, we’ve made significant improvements in recent months that will benefit enterprise customers.

  • Query speed: On Mixpanel, most queries are now returned in less than one second, up to five billion data points. In fact, we improved processing speed by 3x. What does this mean for big, distributed teams? There’s practically no friction in Mixpanel’s UI for asking questions of user behavior, making it easier to build a culture of data-driven decision-making that rivals the tech giants.   
  • GCP and scalability: This year, Mixpanel is moving from its own leased data centers to Google Cloud Platform (GCP). In addition to all of the benefits listed below, this move has a major impact on our ability to scale and innovate faster than ever. Instead of focusing on managing machines to keep up with our scale, our teams can spend more of their time on our core analytics products and areas of innovation, like machine learning.
  • Security: Data housed in GCP is automatically protected at rest with 256-bit AES encryption, an important best practice for enterprise and growth companies alike. Our move to a containerized deployment model running in GCP also allows us to quickly and easily deploy the latest security updates, with no downtime.
  • Performance and reliability: World-class performance and reliability are critical for large organizations, even as the questions get more complex and the data volume grows. Today we can scan up to 150B events per query. We also absorb usage spikes and deliver more consistent performance regardless of demand with GCP. For example, one of our largest customers has seen ~10% gain in performance because of our migration. When it comes to reliability, on top of the 99.99% query uptime we currently have, GCP also gives us better resiliency to hardware failures, geo-replicated backups, and additional ingestion redundancy.

Analytics workflow features built for large teams

These infrastructure updates make it possible to query your data for answers in seconds, not days or months, and without waiting on centralized analytics teams. But improving workflows with product analytics is about more than query time. It’s also about making each step along the way easier for anyone on the broader product team.

That’s why we invested in several key workflow improvements specifically geared at helping large teams operate with the agility of their startup competitors, without sacrificing security or access control.

  • Lexicon: As products grow and new features are added, it’s hard to keep track of which event means what. Instead of keeping a separate spreadsheet or document, we built Lexicon, an in-product dictionary for all your events and properties. If someone has a question about a specific event as they build a report or set up a campaign, it’s easy to find the answer right in the workflow of Mixpanel, instead of digging around elsewhere.

  • Refreshed user interface: One of the classic tradeoffs software platforms make is power over ease of use. But at Mixpanel, we strive to achieve both, always trying to out-invent ourselves when it comes to user experience (UX). That’s why we’re overhauling our main user interface, grouping popular reports and features in a more intuitive way and giving our main web app a more modern look-and-feel. Not only does this mean that Mixpanel will be even more delightful to use, but customers will also be able to find their favorite reports and dashboards or discover new features faster than ever before.

  • [Coming soon] Roll-up projects: Large companies, like our customers Viacom and Microsoft, have multiple apps and products across many divisions. Each team needs access to its own project to track their daily KPIs, while line of business owners and the centralized analytics team want to see how products are performing more holistically. Our upcoming roll-up projects feature gives product teams flexibility to manage their day-to-day while still allowing a central analytics group to maintain control over who sees whose data.
  • User cohorts: To build customer-centric products, Mixpanel users need the flexibility to analyze the groups of users that matter cross all of Mixpanel’s reports, without having to use people properties or replicate complicated filters. With user cohorts, anyone on the team can see how specific user groups differ by behavior, retention, churn, funnel conversion rates, and more.
  • [Coming soon] Data warehouse export: Though we already provide Export APIs, we know it can sometimes be difficult to export your Mixpanel user data into your data warehouse. So we’re improving that workflow for teams by building a direct connection to popular warehouses like RedShift and BigQuery that will update periodically with no size restrictions. 

World-class services and expertise

And finally, to help you jumpstart your product analytics programs, we’re also rolling out new services packages. These packages allow your teams to leverage our deep in-house expertise on analytics and product management and get even more value from our platform quickly. Getting analytics set up for long-term success is hard but worthwhile, and we’re proud to be an extension of our customers’ teams throughout their usage of our platform.

  • Faster time to business impact: Getting value from your analytics is an iterative cycle of “build, measure, learn, repeat.” The faster that teams can start this virtuous cycle, the better. With our standard 60-day implementation, you can be sure that you’ll have top of the line product analytics, and you’ll have it quickly. We apply best practices learned from thousands of customers and customize them to your business needs and goals.
  • Analytics experts at your disposal: Our deep bench of experts works with hundreds of enterprise customers tracking millions of users. From strategic consultations on how to bake analytics into the product development cycle to deep technical questions about identity aliasing, our customer success and solutions architect teams are ready to partner with diverse, cross-functional teams.
  • Award-winning customer support: With 95% customer satisfaction scores on support tickets, our support engineering team is world-class and has been recognized as such. In 2017, the organization was the Bronze Winner at the Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer Service, one of the business world’s premier awards. Customers agree with the numbers: “I’m extremely satisfied with the Mixpanel Success team. They’re very professional, proactive and helpful, as well as smart, organized and prompt in addressing all our questions. They’ve played an instrumental role from day one,” said Sanjana Desai at Sunrun.

What’s next?

At Mixpanel, we believe the companies that win are going to be the ones that can best harness the power of their data. To that end, we’re dedicated to staying on the cutting edge of machine learning technology—not because it’s the trendy thing to do, but because we know it will deliver insights for customers to guide their business decisions. We’ve already gotten started, but you can look forward to more automated products from us that will surface the insights you need.

We’re also working with the biggest and best-in-class technology partners, such as Salesforce and Zapier, to help our customers extract more value from the platforms they already use. More announcements are coming on partnerships this year, but if you have technologies you’d like us to consider, please email partners@mixpanel.com. We’re always looking to make our customers’ lives easier.

All these improvements are made with one goal in mind: to help our customers continue to build great products. If you and your team are interested in learning more about how Mixpanel works with some of the biggest brands in the world to help them innovate, please contact Sales directly via sales@mixpanel.com.

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