Inject Intelligence into Your Reporting

5 minute read

We’ve got some good news and some bad news. As is tradition, let’s start with the bad news.

Bad News: Businesses are drowning in distributed data. There’s so much to know and – thanks to cloud computing and IoT – it’s so far-flung that a data warehouse could never contain it and static reporting could never convey it.

Good News: There are now more tech tools and capabilities than ever before to save our data-saturated souls. Artificial intelligence (AI) is teaming up with business intelligence (BI) to help people manage and effectively use all the data at our disposal.

Tech analyst and marketing consultant David Teich has been preaching this good news regularly in Forbes. Since enterprise reporting is only as good as its underlying data, Teich recommends answering these three questions to begin getting a handle on your data:

  1. Where is your data? Yep. Find and document all the sources.
  2. Which data is important enough to track? It’s not all gold. What has the potential to be information?
  3. Who needs what information to do their jobs better?

So, you have this vast ocean of data. Your job is to define the parameters for what’s useful and to whom. Teich explains how machine learning can help you answer the big three questions above and then enforce your decisions. Asset management systems can help improve your metadata modeling so you can zero in on what’s really useful. Then you train your computers to identify new information and funnel it to the right people.

Once you impose order on your data and recruit BI to maintain that order, three amazing things begin to happen within your organization:

#1: Reporting By the People, For the People

Sometimes this is called self-service reporting. Whatever you call it, autonomy is good common sense: Let employees access the data they need, in the ways they want, and watch engagement and productivity increase.

People are natural problem solvers. When they can run their own queries and drill down wherever needed, they will find ways to work smarter. Whether their job is to optimize daily operations or strategize company direction, unfettered access to the right information helps users at all levels.

#2: Units Unite to Share Insight

We know you’re sick of the “Tear down the silos!” refrain, and yes, some departments have little or nothing to do with each other. BUT when your tech platform provides a central data repository, managed appropriately, you can sit back and watch the synergy.

Sales and marketing provide a great example: Your sales team is constantly accumulating data on pain points, services potential customers are interested in, and where they are getting stuck in the old sales funnel. Aggregated and contextualized, this data provides marketing’s roadmap for creating content and campaigns. Drill down and split the data out for automated personalization of campaign messaging.

#3: Actions Align with Business Objectives

When you put the right data in the right hands at the right time, you ensure everyone is working toward the same company-wide goals, regardless of their individual roles. Users who are only concerned with tactical metrics may only need the snapshot-in-time data associated with traditional reporting. Those who are responsible for spotting and predicting trends need the future casting crystal ball tools like Power BI and Tableau provide. Whether you are trying to optimize traditional reporting or business intelligence, the recipe is the same: Data must be centralized, accessible and accurate.

Let your business objectives define which data is the right data. Then, integrate strategically and implement a BI solution that makes data accessible to all. The end result is self-service reporting each employee can use to improve their processes and make decisions that help the enterprise achieve its goals.

Help is Available

If you need help to determine your reporting needs and assess your current capabilities, download Tech Platform Architecture: A Human-Centric Approach to Finding & Fixing Stress Fractures. It gives you a list of questions you should be asking and actionable tips for finding the answers. Intelligent reporting helps your whole team access the info they need to work smarter.

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