Traditional Reporting is Dead!

The Death of Traditional Reporting – Stratalytica™

In Analytics Age, Stratalytica™ by StratalytigistLeave a Comment

Companies that are able to mine the value of their enterprise data will experience a significant impact on their top-line growth.Bryant Avey, Chief Geek, internuntius
In the last issue of Stratalytica™, we examined several of the Analytics Age factors that led to Blockbuster’s failure to overcome the competitive challenge offered by Netflix.  As previously noted, a lot has been written about what Blockbuster executives could have done better, but while they can be accused of indulging in a bit of hubris, Blockbuster executives weren’t the bumbling idiots many would make them out to be.  When Blockbuster became aware that Netflix presented a genuine threat, the company worked very hard to neutralize that threat.  Even so, the operative phrase in the preceding sentence is: “when Blockbuster became aware.” In the Analytics Age, awareness is a time-sensitive currency impacting multiple areas of competitive advantage.  Blockbuster, and other companies like them, operated in a time when analytics lacked present day sophistication.  As was typical, businesses used reports compiled by outside analysts, who then made recommendations regarding industry trends. This type of analysis was, at a minimum, a year out of date, was general in nature and devoid of the kind of information required to make timely strategic decisions.  Interactive, on-the-fly reporting with multiple levels of granularity did not exist. It was the era of leading from the gut, because there was little else that executives could use to make decisions other than instinct and out-of-date reports. Predictive analytics, integrated data, customer user experience, and work force decision automation did not exist. Fast forward to present day, and it is those data smarter companies, the sophisticated users of analytics whose businesses are thriving, while the analytics poor, no matter how fortune 1000 they may be, keep getting netflixed. So, in a world rich in the kind of data that can not only save a company, but can transform that company into a well-functioning, insight-driven, innovation-spawning powerhouse, why do some companies thrive and others stumble and fall?

In the midst of a data revolution, it’s easy to get caught up in discussions on the size of data, or the structure of data, or data as a tangible asset.  Such discussions are important, but they can cause us to lose sight of the fact that, while data is indeed an asset, most organizations don’t experience their data in that manner. Most companies experience data as a process that they call reporting. While few would argue against the value of reporting, it’s safe to say that of all the technological disruptions present in the Analytics Age, the transformation of the traditional reporting process may prove to be one of the most impactful. Despite the maturation of analytics and the data reporting and visualization tools available, far too many companies are trapped like fossils in the amber of traditional reporting. The Analytics Age requires organizations to be customer-focused, to be insight-driven, and to be innovative, agile and aware.  Yet, it is almost impossible to achieve those attributes when awareness is time-sensitive and your reports are historical in nature; when staff is report-focused, rather than customer focused; and when innovation is limited to the clearly defined threats posed by competitor innovations, rather than a response to marketplace need.  Such limitations are not a result of idiot executives, they are the result of being trapped by a traditional reporting process that adds zero new value to the organization, yet continues to cost the enterprise the same hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.  Month after month, quarter after quarter, year after year, reporting staff performs the same activities, reprocessing the exact same information and generating the same reports.  For many companies, the only indication that the new report is different from the old report is the date at the top of the page.

Is your company trapped by the traditional reporting process? Consider the following characteristics of the traditional reporting environment to find out.

Characteristics of Companies stuck in the Traditional Reporting Trap

  • Reporting Staff Bloat

    Typically, companies stuck in the reporting trap have several staff members whose primary function is to develop reports. Analytics Age staff analyze data and identify innovation opportunities or identify root cause. Report staff bloat is usually located in I.T. or accounting. These staff are responsible for generating recurring cyclical enterprise reports.

  • Long Report Development Cycle

    Can your organization perform role-based, on the fly and ad hoc reporting, with drop and drag correlations to analyze root cause? Or, does even the simplest report require a minimum of 2 weeks development to implementation time, and that’s if you’re lucky?

  • Week to Month Old Data

    How current is your data? Are you expected to make forecasts using data from last month? Last quarter? A year ago?rform role-based, on the fly and ad hoc reporting, with drop and drag correlations to analyze root cause? Or, does even the simplest report require a minimum of 2 weeks development to implementation time, and that’s if you’re lucky?

  • Repetitive Manual Reporting Cycles

    Do you have a process that requires the redevelopment or manual production of reports every month? Or every couple of months?

  • Proliferation of MS Access Databases

    Does your organization have a proliferation of Access databases?

  • Staggering Number of Spreadsheets

    Does your organization have hundreds, or even thousands of excel spreadsheets?

  • Ever-Growing number of Pivot Tables and Lookup Tables

    Does your organization have multiple pivot tables, all interlinking with one another creating a spaghetti mess of data?

  • Too Many Cubes and Data Marts to Find What You Need

    Does your company have a business intelligence environment populated with hundreds of data marts, each with a specific focus? Every time a new reporting need is identified, does your report staff create a new data mart or data cube?

  • Inability to Ask New Questions

    Does asking a new question require an additional report, which then takes several weeks to develop?

  • Duplicate, Non-Matching Reports and Data

    How confident are you in the accuracy and reliability of your data across all of the data marts, spreadsheets, pivot tables, and reports? Is there only 1 version of the truth or are there hundreds, all of which have to be audited to make sure they’re correct?

Thriving in the Analytics Ages is not an option for companies that still use traditional reporting as a foundation for decision support, not when their competitors are utilizing analytics to focus staff on customers, and to make quicker, smarter decisions using fewer person hours.  The value in enterprise data was also emphasized in a recent address to Microsoft partners by Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, who cited an IDC study on the ROI of enterprise data.  According to Nadella, companies that are able to mine the value of their enterprise data will experience a significant impact on their top-line growth.  This represents what Microsoft calls a data dividend, equivalent to $1.6 trillion worldwide over the next 3 years. No wonder Wall Street now includes data management as a factor in valuating public companies.