Reporting vs. Analytics: What Are the Differences?
Reporting and analytics may sound like two peas in a pod — and in a way they are very closely married — yet they possess very distinct differences. Both reporting and analytics revolve around capturing and presenting data. Both tend to carry a standard form of capture and depiction for the sake of comparison and consistency. And, of course, the main and most important similarity is their use within the business world. This is especially notable in path to purchase data, where data is gathered through a variety of avenues (data captured from email correspondence, push notifications, social media outlets, and website analytics) and then analyzed to determine the best avenue for future marketing. That being said, let’s take a look at the major differences between data reporting and data analyzing in the world of business.
Reporting provides concrete, immutable data that is directly linked to original initiatives. It does not lend itself well to varying presentations, and is static in nature. It is often presented in a standardized format, and references concrete data, people, or their opinions. In short, reporting consists of facts in the form of data that are independent from an individual’s judgement and can only be adjusted to a certain extent without compromising the integrity of the information.
Analytics on the other hand provides answers to questions posed by using the data collected during the reporting process. Analytics provides much-needed answers to the original burning questions, and is tailored to its audience. An analysis of reported data can be presented in a wide variety of manners; from long, highly-technical and comprehensive information, to short solutions presented in chart form or layman’s terms. Analysis is performed and developed by a person who has reviewed the data reported, and can be presented by an individual in multiple subjective and flexible terms.
Implementing Reporting and Analytics
Let’s take a quick look at the next step in the process of reporting and analyzing data for the purpose of business. This is the process of implementing findings. Once information is gathered (reporting) and reviewed (analysis), the time comes to put this information into action. Business owners can take a report analysis and apply it to the decision-making process. This application can be used to help drive marketing initiatives, and key performance indicators (KPIs) can then help adjust products to market and path to purchase strategies accordingly.
Businesses face various challenges when it comes to reporting and analytics. Such processes must output valuable and meaningful insights that are applicable and actionable. If reporting and analytics are not measured against defined business standards and do not provide insights into business performance (recommendations to improve the business), then the work of acquiring such data falls short. Data should tell a business what is happening (reporting) why it is happening (analytics) and what the business can do to make improvements (implementation).
In addition, delivery is an important part of reporting and analytics. Without an end-product to review, this data loses value. Businesses must decide exactly how data is delivered in order to be useful and effective. Are reports automated? Are they routine and timely? Are the correct individuals in charge of analytics? Are decisions and recommendations being communicated to key individuals for implementation? Without these definitions, both reporting and analytics can lose their business value and unproductively eat up bandwidth.
Reporting and analytics are critical components of gathering the insight necessary to make recommendations, adjust strategic initiatives, and better capture revenue. Data is a critical component of good decision-making, and good decision-making comes from comprehensive reporting, effective analytics, and subsequent implementation.