Over the last 15-years, we have undergone a major change in the way we do business. This is mostly due to technological advancement and the proliferation of SaaS. Companies must have the ability to store and analyze huge volumes of data. People cannot afford to wait for weekly or monthly reports to make critical company decisions. The ability to generate accurate, relevant and timely reports is critical if a company is to remain agile. In this post, we will discuss a few ways BI reporting outplays traditional reporting practices.
The ability to turn raw company data into actionable intelligence is at the core of today’s successful businesses.
Data is increasingly more important to everyone’s role. Its value is in helping people do their jobs better. BI reporting provides a complete picture of how your business is performing.
BI reporting offers one source of the truth
Companies often have data stored in multiple sources such as ERP, CRM and third party. Traditionally, data must be combined manually into a single source, typically a spreadsheet. While spreadsheets have their uses, they are notoriously error-prone and not a good option for reporting. A mistake in a single cell will invalidate the entire report. Additionally, multiple managers will often share a spreadsheet. However, when multiple versions of the same document are created, it’s nearly impossible to guarantee that everyone is using the most current version.
On the other hand, BI reporting integrates company data from multiple sources, so users always have access to one source of the truth. By consolidating disparate data into one discrete repository, data cannot be accidentally deleted or altered. Also, data is displayed on a BI dashboard in real-time so everyone works from the most current information.
BI reporting is on demand
As many executives know, traditional reporting is slow, rigid, and becomes outdated quickly. Long, and often frustrating, wait times for IT generated reports are all too familiar experiences. Yet, executives and managers must rely on weekly, monthly, and annual reports to make critical business decisions. This can lead to missed opportunities.
In contrast, BI reporting enables everyone to access data, conduct analysis, and create personalized reports without IT involvement. Self-service eliminates the wait time for IT reports. Instead, users can slice and dice the most current data whenever they need real-time, actionable insights. Also, standard reports can be generated on a designated schedule. For instance, reports can be set to generate on Monday mornings in anticipation of weekly staff meetings. If more information is needed during the meeting, a customized report can be created on the spot with just a few clicks.
Finally, free of the continuous demand for reports, the IT department has more time to focus their attention on other important tasks such as maintaining security or managing data resources. And, the IT department can apply BI reporting to develop strategies to grow the business and increase profitability.
BI reporting gives granular insight
Traditional reports are static, only providing a summary of information without much detail. This means you cannot investigate which underlying factors are driving what you are observing. Furthermore, static reports only provide the information you request. Since you can’t probe information you don't know is there, you are only getting half the story. A partial picture can lead to a wealth of missed opportunities.
Conversely, BI reporting is dynamic allowing users to select a metric and drill down into the underlying data. In this way, users are empowered to ask questions of the data and follow their train of thought to discover the answers. For instance, overall sales figures may be on target. However, drilling down will display sales figures by region, product line, and type. This detailed analysis might reveal the one product is over-performing, and that this is masking the declining sales of another product. With this level of granular insight, the sales team can work to boost the sales of the underperforming product to increase sales revenue overall.
BI reporting offers data visualizations
BI reporting presents data in the form of visualizations to help clarity complex information. A graphical depiction of numbers makes the information easier to digest, retain, and recall. Visualizations might be simple bar charts, pie charts, and maps. Or they might be more complex models such as waterfalls, funnels, gauges, depending on your needs. In either case, your team will be able to see all factors that are affecting performance. Visualization makes it easier to identify patterns, trends, and new opportunities. They offer the ability to see changes in customer behavior so your team can respond in ways that drive sales and enable you to stay ahead of the competition.
Transitioning from traditional reporting to BI reporting will provide the ability to see the whole truth, make better decisions faster and uncover new business opportunities.
Find out more about BI reporting by downloading this free eBook, Reporting metrics.