How can we improve the state of Business Intelligence reporting?

Reporting on data analysis isn't new, but the process has changed dramatically in the last few years due to a number of factors. We now have a huge number of channels from which to gather data, and as a result we can collect this data in amounts previously unheard of. Further, we also have greater access to extremely powerful tools for housing, accessing and analysing data.

However, advances in technology doesn't necessarily mean that it's all smooth sailing. In a recent report from Narrative Science, the 2018 State of Business Intelligence Reporting, it was outlined that 62 per cent of decision makers in businesses of all sizes found that the reports they received lacked context. The pain points these professionals face is that reports often described the "what" but not the "why". Therefore, the issue is that they're implementing useful tools, but they are either not the right tools in context or not being utilised to their full potential.

Law of the instrument

If we take a step back and get theoretical for a moment, consider the law of the instrument. American psychologist Abraham Maslow once said "I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail." The statement itself is a representation of a cognitive bias to rely, beyond logic, on a tool that's familiar. This could very much describe the current approach to adoption of business intelligence platforms. 

How can you find better tools for reporting?Regardless of your industry, we are fairly certain this image does not accurately represent the issues your organisation faces.

The best way to address the shortfalls of your reporting process is to reassess what's in your toolbox.

The systems you have in place at present may have added some value to your business, however, the statistics show that the majority of enterprise decision makers find their 

reporting processes lacking. Those professionals should then ask themselves: Am I using the right tool?

Of course, we know that not all tools are equal and that while some are adaptable, others are only useful for a single purpose. The best way to address the shortfalls of current reporting processes is through reassessing what's in your toolbox. AtoBI are here to aid you with this – finding the business intelligence solution that addresses the unique needs and specific requirements of your business, regardless of industry. In doing so, you can give every member of your organisation the best tools with which to do their job. Here's how the key stakeholders can benefit.

Report authors

The report from Narrative Science outlined that analysts – those who are producing the reports – lack the time needed to undertake more comprehensive data analysis. According to the report, 61 per cent of analysts said they spend more than half their time performing manual reporting tasks. The number one stated reason for this was accessing the data needed for reports. Often, the data comes from elsewhere in the organisation, and collating it can be a time consuming process. The result of this is that analysts have much less time to write reports in a way that is both meaningful and simple enough to be understood by the intended recipient.

With more centralised data and automated collection methods, analysts would be able to gather the data they need with greater speed and also have the time to dig deep into the numbers to generate more useful insights.

Business Intelligence administrators

In charge of the business intelligence infrastructure of the organisation, administrators have a lot to juggle. This role encompasses the selection and installation of business intelligence tools, connecting the platform to multiple data sources and auditing systems to make sure they align with company goals – among many other things. When it comes to improving reports, administrators have the same priorities as analysts – they should be a lot more in depth, covering more ground with clearer takeaways, and reports also need to be presented in a way that's digestible for the less technically inclined, and finally, to be able to do so in shorter time.

While administrators could be considered the gatekeepers of the analytics tools, they themselves face limitations imposed by less robust or flexible platforms. Employing the right tools can not only allow administrators to support better reporting processes, it can reduce many unrelated pain points associated with the role as well. 

Business decision makers

The Narrative Science report showed that regardless of industry, decision makers require better explanations in the reports they receive. Numbers often replace the qualitative analysis they are looking for and as such, making sound decisions based on the data becomes more difficult. Virtually every business intelligence platform has been developed specifically to help managers and leaders make the decisions that are vital to an organisation's success. The attitude expressed in the Narrative Science report show that in many cases, platforms for business intelligence reporting aren't working the way they should.

If the hammer won't do the job, your business needs to find a tool that will.

And so we come back to the hammer and nails analogy. If the hammer won't do the job, your business needs to find a tool that will. That's why you should touch base with AtoBI, as we can assist you in finding the right business intelligence platform for your business as well as support you through its integration and train your key personnel in self-service use. To find out how you can improve the state of reporting in your organisation, get in contact today.