There are only a few priorities that all companies share, but one of them is turning data into insights. Thanks to widespread digitization and next-generation technologies, it’s now possible for companies to base crucial decisions on deep collections of data. The promise and potential are there, but companies are struggling to capitalize on it.
According to Forrester Research, 74 percent of companies surveyed report they want to be more data-driven. Unfortunately, only 29 percent of those companies are successful at turning data into actionable insights. There are many reasons why, but a primary one is that analytics does not produce an effective data analytics report. In spite of all that data available, companies can’t apply it to decision making or translate it into strategy.
Without a quality data analytics report, invaluable information is just a jumble of facts and figures. Here are some tips to ensure that reports always create confidence, clarity, and certainty.
Focus on Core Business Objectives
It’s possible to process data to produce an endless amount of metrics. And while all of them may be interesting, only a few of them have real value. Focusing on key performance indicators ensures that analytics is aligned with the core business goals and objectives. Decision makers have the information they really want and need. Equally important, reports reflect variables that companies have actual control over. Data analytics reports should omit anything extraneous.
Provide Context and Clarification
Reports should inspire discussion and decision making, not be taken as the final word. Stakeholders must be able to look at insights in context, and to be able to dive into the underlying data when necessary – ideally, while they’re working. This is challenging with a static report, which is why tools like embedded analytics are gaining in popularity. Users have access to any information on demand rather than needing to request another report, or even leaving their current workflow. Ultimately, it helps executives and others translate the information in a report into a plan of action.
Place Insights into a Narrative
A data analytics report is supposed to condense a lot of information into one easily digestible format. Anyone who has seen one, however, knows that they often look just like spreadsheets. They may contain “insights”, but they do little to highlight where, when, why, and how those insights matter. As much as possible, reports should position analytics within a narrative about the company’s past performance and future prospects. Along those lines, reports should anticipate the kinds of questions/comments they will generate and work to include that information preemptively.
Graphs and charts are great ways to present a lot of information in a compelling and comprehensible way. Plus, they help to inspire action by highlighting trends, anomalies, and other indicators that require immediate attention. Having a basic set of visualization to work with is helpful. Increasingly, however, reports rely on next-generation visualizations to graphically present data in innovative and instructive ways.
Delivering better reports is all about depending on better tools. The right features and functions make it easier to produce sophisticated reports in less time and with less effort. Those same tools also allow decision makers to explore data at will and act with agility. Said differently, when it gets easier to create reports, it also gets easier to utilize reports.