Many Businesses have been using reporting tools for quite some time and in some cases, there may be many different reporting tools in one business. This can take the form of something very simply put together in Excel, through fixed reports produced off a bought application (embedded reporting as we would call it) or their own standalone reporting solution, such as SAP Crystal Reports.
These reports are often useful, but less flexible to ever-changing Business needs, often resulting in a wait for any reporting development to be made. They inevitably get report consumers asking more questions about the data and there is often a delay to getting the answers to those questions.
Whilst reports are useful, they often leave users wanting a richer interactive experience, whether that is from their standalone solution, or a solution that is embedded as part of an application such as an ERP platform. This is where a more analytical tool comes in useful, because a good tool enables all this and more.
What functionality do analytical tools have over reporting tools?
One of the key benefits of a decent analytical tool is that it enables an element of data modelling and summarisation. This means less technical users can get at those answers themselves, without first having to worry about how the data hangs together behind the scenes. This has the added benefit of enabling more control over those calculations, so there is less debate about whether the data is right. An example of how that looks in Yellowfin 9.5 is shown below – data connections and naming conventions are all be pre-defined, giving more access to the data for less technical users.
Another key benefit of analytics over reporting is the ability for users to view data interactively. Clicking one chart naturally filters others in a dashboard and often users can change chart types on the fly. There is also the ability to present the data in different formats – in Yellowfin 9.5, for example, there is emphasis on producing data stories, presentations and infographics, as well as rendering for mobile devices.
The inherent interactivity built into analytical tools means user can easily drill, filter and slice data as required, without relying on more technical users making a different report available to them.
It’s not just straight forward interactivity that is a hallmark of analytical tools, the ability to create intelligent alerts and collaborate with colleagues more freely ensures group decisions can be made in a timely manner. Yellowfin 9.5 has a useful alerting feature that many analytical tools don’t have, called Signals, which monitors data and can generate automated reports and notifications.
The collaboration piece in Yellowfin 9.5 is also very well evolved, allowing for assigning tasks as well as sharing content with colleagues. It also provides a secure development framework, with the ability to push changes to various elements of the solution through an approval process.
For those Software Vendors embedding reports into their applications, analytical solutions can and should be more closely linked in with what they offer their customers. The ability to embed single visualisations all the way up to an entire ecosystem is very useful – in this way, analytical tools such as Yellowfin 9.5 really help application developers deliver a richer experience to their customer base.
With all the above points taken into consideration, it’s clear that analytical solutions are more than an evolution from reporting, they are a revolution. They represent a change in how users can access data – not having to rely on downloading a report or having it delivered in an inbox – and this ensures users have more innovation and easier decisions within reach than before.