Chicken or the Egg | Reporting or Analytics. What Comes First?

Every company wants to be data driven. Not only because it sounds good but because data delivers great insights in all aspects of your business. That being said, the idea of how to get there is widely debated. Should you focus on building reports or deriving analytics? 

Let’s tackle reporting first: 

Building your reports implies you meet two functional requirements –

    1. Clean Data: the process of detecting and correcting (or removing) corrupt or inaccurate records from a record set, table, or database and refers to identifying incomplete, incorrect, inaccurate or irrelevant parts of the data and then replacing, modifying, or deleting the dirty or coarse data.  
    2. Aggregated Data: refers to numerical or non-numerical information that is: 
      • collected from multiple sources and/or on multiple measures, variables, or individuals 
      • compiled into data summaries or summary reports 
    3. Once you have the data, there are more steps required to produce useful reports. From making sure your fields are clean so that the sources of data are aggregated together and calculated correctly to get your calculated field, your process needs to be precisely executed as it compounds on each previous step. 


Now let’s look at analytics: 

Analytics should prove or disprove a hypothesis on a business proposition, whether that be in finance, operations, marketing or any other business line. Well thought out analytics can produce quick insights that impact your decisions and strategy moving forward with business decisions 

You begin with a few steps –

    1. Hypothesis: Develop a question from your business to prove or disprove your assumption   
    2. Blend/Change Needed Data: Focus on the specific data tables that are needed to combine for the analysis and have a clear output, such as percentage of total sales comes from (fill in blank). 
    3. Present Findings 


While both aspects of analytics are critical to becoming a data-driven company, speed and accuracy are paramount. By focusing on the analytics, you will be able to put this process down quickly and discover insights into your hypothesis. Whether you are right in your assumption or not, focusing on analytics in short intervals will also allow you to pivot quickly to the next hypothesis. So what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Focusing on targeted hypotheses inside your organization can quickly turn data into insights and will lead to better informed decisions. And if the insights are so valuable, then they must be shared widely giving reports their moment too.  

Build your sandbox and let users build the castle – because data should only ever compliment users’ intuition. Providing your employees with data for analysis not only leads to strong insights but delivers actionable foresights as well. Because as clear as your rearview mirror is, it won’t help you see where you’re going. 

Joshua Ibarra, Innovation Consultant – Sirius Solutions, L.L.L.P.

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