Reporting or Analytics? What's the Difference?

by | Feb 8, 2018

If you’ve been watching the Gartner Magic Quadrant over the last few years (2016 & 2017), you’ve probably noticed a shift in market leaders. What’s particularly interesting is the shift from traditional major player ‘reporting’ platforms towards newer ‘analytic’ platforms.
Having worked on most major business intelligence stacks over the last decade, it’s fair to say I’ve witnessed an evolution on reporting platforms, but a revolution is also evident with analytic platforms.
So what’s the difference? Well simply put, reporting delivers defined metrics of interest in reports to stakeholders, whereas analytics provide the ability for stakeholders to dynamically explore data in different contexts and really drill into reasons why x = y.
Seeing this transition, traditional stack vendors have shifted from prominence into obscurity while new market players are becoming industry leaders. The key driver behind the shift? Agility. Traditional stacks have been heavily engineered, in some cases evolving over nearly 30 years. Incorporating an analytics perspective into something that big is laborious, but not impossible. Conversely, newer players to the market have been able to capitalize on the latency and engineer from the ground up with an analytics focus.
As business intelligence or insights have become highly regarded within mainstream businesses, the rise of data literacy is evident. This data is the pulse we check to monitor how we are doing. Stakeholders now understand how to interrogate their data and adapt to changes, leading to an exponential increase in the number of questions being asked. Rather than having a reporting analyst churning out a report per week for each different question said stakeholder has, it seems only logical to simply let the stakeholder ask and answer their own questions. In saying that, there is and always will be a place for traditional ‘canned’ reports in addition to this.
With self-service analytics, the business intelligence/data warehouse (BI/DW) teams’ role shifts towards a data preparation, governance, and integration focus as opposed to data (report) delivery, in the balance between business and IT. If I had a dollar for every Jerry-rigged reporting solution in Excel because BI/DW teams were viewed as slow, obstructive and archaic I wouldn’t be here writing this blog. So why not share all the data, all the time, and create tangible actionable insights?
Thomas – MacGyver of code
Thomas blogs about reporting platforms, data warehousing and the systems behind them.

You can read Thomas’s other blog posts here.

We run regular business intelligence courses in both Wellington and Auckland.

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