Business Analytics Business Intelligence

Going Forward with Reporting & Analytics Capabilities

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Jason Clements
Written by Jason Clements

Where do seat on the path to Interactive Reporting, Analysis, and Visualization within your organization?

Let’s have a clear sense of the definitions of these two key areas of analytics

Reporting: The process of organizing data into informational summaries in order to monitor how different areas of a business are performing.

Analysis: The process of exploring data and reports in order to extract meaningful insights, which can be used to better understand and improve business performance.

In summary, reporting shows you what is happening while analysis focuses on explaining why it is happening and what you can do about it.

A few years I created the diagram below for a “Lunch n Learn” it displays the growth path for business in their reporting & analysis capabilities but this shouldn’t mean the reporting team progressively grows with it.

WhatRU

One way to distinguish whether your organization is emphasizing reporting or analysis is by identifying the primary tasks that are being performed by your analytics team. If most of the team’s time is spent on activities such as building, configuring, consolidating, organizing, formatting, and summarizing – that’s reporting. Analysis focuses on different tasks such as questioning, examining, interpreting, comparing, and confirming. Reporting and analysis tasks can be intertwined, but your analytics team should still evaluate where it is spending the majority of its time. In most cases, I’ve seen analytics teams spending most of their time on reporting tasks. This is where BlueNet’s team can come in and help.

When it comes to comparing the different roles of reporting and analysis, it’s important to understand the relationship between reporting and analysis in driving value. I like to think of the data-driven stages (data > reporting > analysis > decision > action > value) as a series of dominoes. If you remove a domino, it can be more difficult or impossible to achieve the desired value.

Path

In the “Path to Value” diagram above, it all starts with having the right data that is complete and accurate. It doesn’t matter how advanced your reporting or analysis is if you don’t have good, reliable data. If we skip the “reporting” domino, some seasoned analysts might argue that they don’t need reports to do analysis (i.e., just give me the raw files and a database). On an individual basis that might be true for some people, but it doesn’t work at the organizational level if you’re striving to democratize your data.

Most companies have abundant reporting but may be missing the “analysis” domino. Reporting will rarely initiate action on its own as analysis is required to help bridge the gap between data and action. Having analysis doesn’t guarantee that good decisions will be made, that people will actually act on the recommendations, that the business will take the right actions, or that teams will be able to execute effectively on those right actions. However, it is a necessary step closer to action and the potential value that can be realized through successful business analytics.

Reporting and analysis go hand-in-hand, but how much effort and resources are being spent on each area at your company? When I hear a client is struggling to find value from their analytics investment, it usually means one of the dominoes in the “Path to Value” is missing and often analysis is that misplaced domino.

About the author

Jason Clements

Jason Clements

Who is Jason Clements? Good question. He is a husband, father, BI consultant, and database administrator, He has been working with SQL Server for a decade, working primarily in business intelligence, ETL/SSIS, data quality, and reporting. Jason is employed with BlueNET Technologies as Senior Business Analytics Consultant.

As an active member of the community, Jason has spoken at regional and local venues including the vendor based trade shows and various user groups & webcasts. He is an active group member and speaker at the North Georgia SQL Server User Group in the ATL area.

1 Comment

  • Well put, Jason. Many organizations, to their own demise, do have a missing domino in this hierarchy which greatly impacts the work flow, but fortunately there are guys like you and others at BlueNET that are ready and able to bridge the gap!

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