How to use technology for reporting
For any growing business, it is important to keep track of a variety of metrics during day-to-day operations. Primarily, there are pieces of information like revenue & sales that cut across every business and help directors, managers and decision-makers get a better picture of how the business is performing.
But as more businesses try to expand, going digital has become an important part of their strategy for many reasons. Some are looking for advertising space so that they can acquire more customers while others want more channels where they can complete the entire sale.
Other business activities like supply chain management, accounting, etc, are also part of businesses’ digital strategies. This shift comes with new challenges in terms of collecting, processing, storing and acting on all the data generated from various activities.
This is where data analytics tools come into play. These help businesses to gather a multitude of data points from different data sources that will assist in critical decision making that ultimately can help raise revenue or lower costs.
The technologies can produce insights retrospectively from historical data, real-time from live sources and predictive algorithms also come with reporting features that can enable a business to follow every business-related action in real-time.
An analytical report utilizes both quantitative and qualitative business data to assess strategies and processes while enabling employees to make decisions that are data-driven thanks to the facts at hand.
How can a business benefit from technologies for reporting?
To get the most out of technologies when it comes to reporting, a business can follow these steps:
Identify Desired Metrics
The first step is to establish what you’re going to be measuring. For example, if you want to gauge brand awareness, you might consider measuring variables like impressions and engagement (clicks, likes, replies, retweets) etc.
In the case of videos, you can look at view counts and watch rates. Make sure you list all the metrics related to the information you’re looking for.
Select Appropriate Tools
Data analytics tools come in different forms and with varying functionality. Some are web-based while others come in the form of stand-alone software or as part of a suite. Pay attention to the depth of the insights offered such as cross-channel view and duration of activity/inactivity of users.
Another important function is alternating between individual and aggregate user statistics. Find out all the different types of reports that particular tools offer such as audience, behaviour, conversion, real-time, user flow, un-sampled and roll-up reports, among others.
Keep in mind the level of user-friendliness of any BI tools you consider. Employees must be able to easily learn how to carry out analysis and reporting as they interface with these tools.
Analyse And Generate Reports
Here, a business can zero in on the information displayed via the digital dashboard of the analytics platform being used. These do away with the clutter from multiple word and spreadsheet files. You can also select chart types and filter data using different criteria.
Choose the right design and layout. Reports need to be engaging therefore it is important to arrange the information in a manner that makes it easy to follow. Try using a mix of text, graphs and other visuals to make reports appealing.
Keep the pages brief and offer straightforward answers to the vital questions.
Share Your Findings
Whether you’re doing it manually by exporting to documents, using automated messaging or through user account logins, reports should be made available to the respective employees who stand to benefit from making decisions based on the evidence discovered.
As you set out to use technologies for reporting, always have your business goals in mind.
These will help you pick the right KPI and OKR templates which not only give you a clearer picture of the progress being made relative to your strengths and weaknesses but also make findings easier for other stakeholders to comprehend.
Ensure that you use technologies to tell a story of sorts when reporting, rather than just having isolated information that lacks context.
In some of our upcoming series we'll explore how to use Power BI, Python and R to produce reports in a variety of formats.