Did you know that by 2020, 1.7 megabytes of data will be created every second—for every single person on earth? That same data is changing the way businesses today are thinking about their strategy in all areas, from marketing to financial planning. However, the sheer volume of data is causing some businesses to shy away from its benefits. That’s why a self-serve reporting environment can deliver significant value.
Data Without Reporting Can’t Deliver Much in the Way of Value
Reporting is becoming more and more critical for business leaders who are swamped with data, but constrained by access to it or the ability to decipher anything from it. In far too many instances, businesses are failing to develop a companywide strategy as it relates to data, including how its collected, managed, analyzed, measured, and then implemented so that it can play a role in helping the company attain its business and growth goals. Data without reporting, or without a reporting strategy, is a bit like being blindfolded and trying to hit a target.
An effective data strategy must look across all areas of the enterprise, and not be constrained to only certain parts of the business. Data affects all areas of the company, and should managed and reported on in such a way that it benefits all areas of the company. This is an area that could use much improvement in many organizations.
As I mentioned, effective reporting strategies are foundational in terms of managing business growth, challenges, and opportunities in today’s fast-paced and highly competitive environment. The critical path to success starts with a self-service reporting environment across your organization that allows your entire team to collaborate at any time.
The Importance of a Self-Serve Reporting Environment
Business leaders, lines of business teams, and IT departments all have extensive workloads. The need for actionable data and greater insights are becoming the primary focal points to help drive the business; therefore, data analytics and the requests that come with it pile up quickly. A self-serve reporting environment could diminish these requests and do so much more for your organization, including the following:
- Allowing time for optimization: When you lessen the workload of the IT department, it allows them to focus on mission-critical tasks.
- Foster greater collaboration. As part of your data initiatives around a self-serve reporting environment, when you can also focus on creating an environment that fosters greater collaboration, it’s truly one of the keys to success. Improved collaboration can provide much needed access to various data components across the organization, reducing the potential IT bottleneck, and resulting in increased productivity all the way around. From a data management standpoint, as employees expand their use of data, you know who’s there, what they’re after, and why they’re after it. This makes the data management process even more of a business critical operation in terms of the value it can deliver.
- Return for your investments: As more individuals begin to use your data investments such as applications, the value of those investments increases significantly.
- Enhance your security: Maintaining a comprehensive self-serve reporting environment allows you to measure internal security standards and enhance as appropriate to fit the ever-changing needs of the tech environment.
Self-serve reporting environments take business intelligence to new heights by increasing productivity, improving data quality and allowing for the creation of actionable analytical reports. However, to truly take advantage of everything self-serve reporting has to offer, you need to implement it into your own self-serve reporting environment. To do that, there are three critical steps you must take.
Step #1: Decentralize the Reporting Capability of the Organization
Decentralizing simply means moving something away from single administrative rights to other locations, resulting in a form of autonomy. In order to take advantage of reporting that everyone can benefit from and use, decentralizing is the first step.
This decentralized environment allows us to, according to Hacker Noon, “remove all points of failure, scale more efficiently, provide greater privacy and data immutability and boost performance even further.” It allows each individual part of your organization to make decisions based on the data you receive, instead of overloading your IT team with requests for analyzation.
Step #2: Create Template “Models” That Allow Users to Build Off Of
Not everyone within your organization is going to understand how to use the data and make sense of it all. If you choose to open up the doors to self-service, it is a best practice for you to appoint super users at the beginning stages. These individuals will lead other users through the process, creating template models along the way.
These templates allow users to build their own data spreadsheets without starting from scratch. This gives all users a chance to see their data and make decisions based on results, without the extreme learning curve. Plus, using these templates will decrease the number of mistakes, keeping your data secure from breach or error.
Step #3: Deliver Training That Demonstrates the Power the Enterprise is Handing Over to the Users
When you choose to leverage a self-serve reporting environment for your users, you are handing over every piece of data your organization brings in to all the individuals within your walls. It’s important to deliver training that communicates the importance of data safety and security and the magnitude of the power you are turning over to users across your enterprise.
It’s important to remember that many of the individuals using the data are not analysts and may not initially have the necessary skill sets or analytics skills to view and/or use the data effectively. However, with a commitment to training and mentoring along the way, in a fairly short period of time, you will likely find your team is incredibly capable. And that? A company filled with many people who understand the value of and how to effectively use data—that’s a tremendous benefit to your company as a whole. Along the way, remember that communication is key. Let your team know that there are resources at the ready for them, and that they should ask questions and seek help whenever needed.
Data is and will continue to be a game-changer in all industries—and that’s only going to intensify as time goes on. Get your company on track to take full advantage of all the benefits data and data analysis has to offer by implementing a self-serve reporting environment. Using these steps, you can take your organization into the future with insightful, self-serve reporting starting today. And if you have questions along the way, be sure to reach out—I’d love to help you in your journey. Connect with me on LinkedIn or find me on Twitter and let’s talk.
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