Reporting and analysis are two processes that have become crucial in the era of big data. While both are necessary when it comes to transforming raw data into actionable insights they are not the same. Reporting is often viewed as the first stage in the process of data handling, converting it into information that can be useful. Analysis comes next, taking the information that has been collated and extracting essential insight. There are several key differences that are important to note when it comes to appreciating how reporting and analysis might impact your business.
Reporting is used for the process of collating and monitoring data and has been around longer than analysis. It provides a way to make collected data easier to understand and highlight key information through techniques such as comparison and using charts and graphs. Analysis, on the other hand, is used to gain in-depth insight and produce practical recommendations as a result.
The process of analysis is drawing out information from data that can then be used to answer business questions and inform strategy and decision making. One example of this might be an analysis presentation, which can be used to extract insights that inform recommended actions. There will also be an element of predicting the impact this will have on the business. Reporting is much more about pushing data in the form of alerts or structured reports and there is no element of prediction in terms of business impact.
Automation vs. bespoke
The process of reporting necessarily involves a lot of repetitive tasks and a large volume of data. It’s the ideal candidate for automation, which is already being used by many companies to speed up reporting and make it more accurate. Analysis is much more individual – automated data analysis can only be done on a basic level while a more custom approach by a genuine specialist will produce invaluable insights that are bespoke to the business.
Although reporting and analysis bring different benefits to the table both have value. They are often viewed as two steps in a process that is designed to take raw business data and convert it into well informed decision making, followed by action that generates results. So, while the two are different, both are equally necessary.
Getting the terminology right
When we talk about analysis, we’re referring to actions such as reasoning and questioning, translating and interpreting or examining and confirming. Reporting, on the other hand, involves actions such as formatting and compiling, configuring and consolidating and organising and summarising. The way we speak about these two processes is incredibly revealing in terms of the differences between the two.
Both analysis and reporting have become essential stages in the process of divining actionable insight from business data. It’s important to understand the differences between the two so as to appreciate how they fit together and why they have so much to offer businesses with the infrastructure in place to use them.