People and companies are creating and consuming data at an increasingly large rate. In 2022, experts estimate 2.5 quintillion bytes of data will be produced (that's a 2.5 followed by a staggering 18 zeroes!) Now this includes everything from your Facebook pics of your family vacation to the emails you send.
But what about your business? Your business' data is also growing exponentially year over year as well. With this wealth of information at your fingertip, how are you taking advantage of it?
Looking at the way many companies consume data, we can narrow it down to three scenarios.
1) The first, and most common, is historical reporting. These static reports gathered include things like your Balance Sheets, Income Statements and all those other end-of-period reports you run. Yes, you may run some reports daily or weekly, but they are always a snapshot of the past. These do a great job of telling you what has happened over that time period. With a little experience you can begin spotting trends but not much insight is gained on future performance. A lot of times these are system generated reports or from another tool like Management Reporter or Crystal Reports making them difficult to maintain and update.
2) The second way companies are consuming data is with real time reporting. This is the first step in going from historical and static reports to dynamic and interactive reports. Real time reporting displays the most up-to-date data in an easy to access and understandable way. These reports can often be displayed as KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) which allow you to focus on what is most important to you. You can slice and dice these reports and even drill down into the underlying data. Real time reporting helps accelerate the decision-making process especially when dealing with time sensitive matters. Reporting tools most often used for this are
3) Using the data collected in your historical and real-time reporting, businesses can now move into the third stage, forecasting and business intelligence. Forecasting and BI allow you to begin predicting changes in your business such as sales, expenditures, profits and losses. With this information you will be better equipped to make strategies based on these predictive measures. You will also be able to set reasonable and measurables goals from your historical and current data. These goals and budgets can then be manipulated to address changes within the market.
With all the data that is available, reporting is not a destination but journey.
As your business needs and market change, so do your reporting needs. Where is your business on their data journey? The team at DSWi would gladly help guide you along your way.
We have helped over 100 clients from coast-to-coast grow, cut costs and become more profitable since we started in 2006. Yesterday, today and always, our business has one goal:
By John Bennett, Account Manager at DSWi