Both automated reporting and business intelligence can help businesses perform better — but in different ways. With automated reporting, organizations can simply produce reports faster and with less effort from business data without further analysis. Alternatively, using a BI solution can offer ease of use in exploring the data as well as scalability in automating reports from those explorations seamlessly and rapidly.
Let's start with the basics.
What Is Automated Reporting?
Automated reporting is about bringing users relevant useful information in a timely way, without the users having to seek out the information for themselves. It tells you what has happened and how different areas of a business are performing. Automated reports can be generated at fixed intervals, such as every Friday for the weekly sales figures. They may also be triggered by certain events, like a shipping backlog that has now increased to a critical level that must be resolved.
Productivity Through Automated Reporting
When you and your teams know which standard information and alerts you need day-in and day-out, automated reporting can be a simple, effective way of providing that information. Automation can also help to make sure reporting is spread out over the course of each day. This prevents peaks in demand that might otherwise lead to problems with system performance. Ready-made reports make it faster and easier to get business status and performance information out of a system.
What Is Business Intelligence?
Business intelligence, on the other hand, is about taking proactive decisions to pull together data to ask questions about why or how certain things are happening. For instance, you might gather information from different sources (sales, CRM, production, etc.) to see how sales revenues of one product affect net profits for another, or why production slowdowns have been occurring the same time every quarter and how to prevent them. The goal of BI is to get meaningful insights, which then help you better understand and enhance your business performance.
Performance and Profitability Through BI
Your business intelligence starts when you assess a report and decide how to act on the information it contains. Comparing, examining, and questioning are all part of the process of better understanding your data and discovering relationships, trends, and opportunities for performance and profitability. The right BI platform helps you apply these processes intuitively to make sense of practically any size and number of data sources. It also offers you interactive dashboards that update automatically as new data arrives, helping you turn your business into a data-driven enterprise.
Want the best of both worlds? You're in luck! Some BI software applications can provide both insights (why and how) and automated reports (what).
BI and Automated Reporting Working Together
A business intelligence application with built-in automated reporting can bring you the advantages of both approaches. By using the BI application as a single data repository, everybody can analyze the same versions of the numbers and work from a single source of truth to get information and insights. Simple connection of multiple data sources and easy creation of reports and dashboards let your users get what they need and get on with their jobs, with little or no help needed from IT.
No More Reporting or Analysis Pain Points
We know the importance of a BI tool that has automated reporting baked in. But don't take it from us. Here are how some companies across verticals use BI with automated reporting.
- Online healthcare payment platform Simplee had exhausted the possibilities of Excel reporting. With 50 million rows of data to analyze, reporting was taking six days to accomplish. Through automation, Simplee could do its reporting in less than a day, bringing different data sources together quickly and simply.
- Casino games website Casumo was spending two weeks to produce a single report, with users overwhelming the IT department with new requests. User-friendly automation now lets non-specialists use automatically generated reports and rapidly make their own dashboards and business reports, scaling as user needs and data grow.
- IT solutions company Centre Technologies was using manual methods to consolidate multiple data sources for reports. The process took weeks, with reports that were lengthy and difficult for the company's customers to use. Now, besides using the Sisense application to make user-friendly reports much faster, the company also uses Sisense capabilities to automate and easily verify its complex billing process.
- Full-service marketing agency The Lukens Company (TLC) needed to handle data three times the size of the capacity of any cloud system, and Excel was no longer a viable option. Through automation, TLC could bring fast and easy access to reports for its teams and customers. TLC saw its productivity increase by 25% and was also able to offer products and services that had been out of its range before.
- Online marketplace Juwai.com needed to generate reports from multiple data sources in both Roman and Chinese scripts with large datasets that were being generated at a rapid rate. Sisense provided the capability to automate reporting with flexibility, timeliness, and responsiveness to real-time developments.
- Popular student housing site Kamernet decided to move away from manual report generation to automated reporting. In doing so, it expanded its operations and empowered its business users to create their own reports, analyze the company's market-share data, and improve their understanding of the company's business performance, all without stress on its IT department.