Businesses sometimes use these terms interchangeably … they are wrong. Reporting has been around for ages. Be it balance sheets projecting a company’s cash flow, spreadsheets laying out customer retention per quarter, monthly & quarterly sales etc, businesses are very used to the concept of reporting. The advent of technology has helped speed things up and the means of delivery have changed, but what gets reported hasn’t really changed a whole lot. Analytics, on the other hand, is the ability to identify patterns in the data. It is the process of drilling down into data, slicing and dicing it for systematic computational analysis and getting statistics. Reporting is a pre-requisite to analytics. The table below gives some points of comparison on how these two terms differ from each other in a typical business.
|Organize data into summaries to monitor various aspects of a business||Explore data to identify patterns and gain insights to improve business|
|Convert data into information||Convert information into insights|
|Raise questions about the business||Provide answers to the questions|
|Report what is happening||Understand why it is happening|
|Data is pushed out based on pre-defined KPIs and triggers||Data is pulled to slice and dice based on questions being asked|