This month I’ll be publishing “Best-in-Class Reporting and Dashboards: The Workhorse of Analytics.” This Research Report will examine the strategies, practices, and capabilities of top performing analytical organizations around reporting and dashboards. Every difficult task needs its beast of burden, and deriving analytical insight is no different. Reports and dashboards are sturdy, reliable methods for achieving the fundamental purpose of analytics and Business Intelligence (BI): delivering pertinent information to the right people at the right time. Newer, flashier technologies emerge and often draw levels of attention disproportionate to their practical value, but reporting and dashboards still stand as the workhorse of business analytics. In the hands of analytically enlightened organizations, these tools plow fields of data to sow the seeds of smarter decisions.
Aberdeen asked the Best-in-Class about their top strategies around analytics for the coming year (Figure). The top analytical strategy of the Best-in-Class is improving collaboration by breaking down information silos (cited by 41%). Users benefit from information in reports and dashboards drawn from outside their immediate purview. BI tools unbridled by information silos give users across the organization the data they need to take decisive action. Aberdeen asked BI users what department outside of their job function they find working with most productive (see sidebar). Collaboration and the free exchange of data give all users the pertinent information needed to press forward with decisions. Aberdeen’s report, Analytical Collaboration: The Whole is Greater than the Sum of Its Parts, explores how an emphasis on collaboration enhances the general quality of decisions.
Thirty-two percent (32%) of the Best-in-Class listed enabling users to be more self-sufficient as a top strategy around BI. With training and self-service capabilities, Best-in-Class users can generate their own reports or modify existing ones to best suit their needs. Self-sufficient users can create custom dashboards that present only the most pertinent information in an arrangement designed by the user. Aberdeen’s report, Making the Most of Your Dashboard Investments, presents data showing that self-sufficient users are able to create new dashboards significantly more quickly. Self-sufficiency initiatives also reduce the support burden that reporting and dashboards place on IT. Giving users even the simplest abilities — such as rearranging charts or changing color palettes — frees up valuable IT resources for more technically demanding tasks.
The third leading strategy of the Best-in-Class (cited by 32%) is delivering analytical capabilities to more operational business functions. The Best-in-Class want to get more tools and information in front of more decision makers to fully leverage all analytical minds. This analytical proliferation effort promotes data-driven decision making across all lines of business. Establishing more analytical tools in more places also creates a deeper pool of data to draw from to generate reports and dashboards.
For more research on Best-in-Class reporting and dashboards, check out the full report on Aberdeen.com, coming soon.