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« Operationalizing Analytics | Main | The Case for Collaboration as a Key Part of an Analytics Center of Excellence »


Wow, there is an awful lot for us to chew on here! Like so many of us, I have done all I can professionally to reinforce the differences between analytics and reporting, even advocating the separation of the two processes, and organizations if necessary. As Gary points out, the skillsets and knowledge bases required are different, and reporting can be a major waste of analyst resources, not to mention a morale killer. Add to that the fact that most reporting and dashboards in an enterprise setting are of limited value because they is used more to make a point or promote a point of view more than to support real decisions that haven't already been made. Beyond that, reporting portfolios tend to bloat since they are much easier to create than to kill and last well beyond their useful life.

So, if I accept the premise that reporting must be analytic in nature, that is deliver the 'why' as well as the 'what' to be useful, this implies more than a supply of analysts (homegrown or otherwise) that can accomplish this efficiently. Also that they be positioned within the organization in such a way as to be close enough to the actual decision makers they support to assure active communication and adaptation to changing demands. One problem with the central analytics CoE model is that it becomes like central IT. Insulated from its users and favoring one constituency over another for political and/or budgetary reasons. This forces the underserved organizations to grow their own and forking the discipline.

It seems to me that the success of an analytic reporting function and process must solve the age-old problem of how to not only acquire the right resources, but align them in in the organization in a way that balances central control/efficiency and decentralized response using some variation of the hub and spoke model and a level of tech-enabled collaboration that we rarely see these days. I'm looking forward to that upcoming post.

Thanks, Gary. This is very well put. It is certainly true that traditional reporting is flawed and I do not see how any stakeholder can use data to run a business if such data is not tied to the analysis layer. I do strongly believe in a clear division between digging for insights and communicating them, however.

"Analytical reporting” may be a good answer to the enterprise challenge. And, if you allow me, I would define that as performance-focused reporting (whichever balance of goal-driven status updates and insights) that maintains a connection with the analysis layer. Final goal: save the stakeholder’s time and avoid her the exploration of data beyond a first simple answer (everything else being relegated to the analyst’s mission).

All in all a great discussion. Keep it up.

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