Big Data

Use Totango for real-time SaaS usage tracking

After learning about and implementing Totango, Justin James says he's extremely impressed with the real-time application usage tracker.

I recently learned about a new service called Totango, which is currently in a public beta. I spoke with Guy Nirpaz, one of the founders, to find out a little bit about the service. I was really impressed with what it did, so I decided to integrate it into an application that I have been working on.

What is Totango?

Totango allows you to record events from your applications in real time and then analyze them. It is similar to a system like Google Analytics, but instead of tracking page views whenever someone goes to a new page, your application controls when data is recorded and what is recorded. This allows you to get an understanding of the usage patterns of your applications and customer engagement levels, and it allows it to track AJAX activity quite nicely. Totango is also integrated with Salesforce, so you can tap into its data to drive your sales process. For example, with Totango you can look at a user account's activity, and determine if they are a hot prospect or one that has cooled off, and take the appropriate actions. And because your application itself drives when and what goes into Totango (unlike tradition page view analysis), your data is not cluttered with cruft -- it records precisely what you want and need.

Implementing Totango

I implemented Totango in the Spanner Planner application that I have been working on. Reading the Totango documentation only took a few minutes. In a nutshell, all you need to do is to sign up and get a Totango ID, and when you want to register an event, you make an HTTP GET to their service, passing along a few simple parameters like your ID, the username, the user's organization, and the event you want to register. You can do this call server side or client side. You do not need to pre-register anything like users or activities with Totango in advance, either. As soon as you send over data, Totango does a string comparison to match things up. This makes your configuration as dynamic as can be. When I integrated with Spanner Planner, I did a server side integration and experienced no noticeable slowdown. Within about two minutes, the Totango interface was "seeing" my events and displaying them.

Figure A

The real-time activity monitor to help developers (Click the image to enlarge.)

Conclusion

I am extremely impressed with Totango. It's simple to use and fulfills a very important need, particularly for SaaS applications (although there is no reason I can think of why you couldn't use it with mobile apps or desktop apps either). It is currently free in public beta, but pricing has not been announced yet. It should be going gold around the beginning of the year.

Many of the CRM-style statistics in the system (like market segmentations) are not my forte, but I can see that there is going to be a lot of value in Totango long term.

J.Ja

About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

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