Business Intelligence or Reporting?

We get requests every day from companies that tell us they can’t get the business intelligence information they need from their reporting tool or reporting application.  Many blame the reporting tool for not being able to produce the data required, when what’s really needed, is a change in paradigm.  You can’t squeeze Business Intelligence from a reporting application, it’s as simple as that.

Most reporting tools used today produce snapshots of data organized by month, year, etc.  They are usually not capable of manipulating data to provide trending, and real time analysis.  Report applications provide the data for the reader to conduct the analysis – which we know is time consuming, doesn’t always produce one version of the truth, and can miss key assumptions – resulting in invalid or inaccurate results.

Business is complex – if we could get the data we needed from reporting applications, we wouldn’t need BI solutions.  But to be fair, reporting applications are just as important as BI solutions.  Users need access to data to do their jobs effectively, but to expect a reporting tool to provide detailed analysis and trending is expecting a result these solutions were never meant to provide.

BI solutions provide the framework, engine and agreed-upon-formulas for the required analysis and trends needed to effectively manage a business.  These formulas access data from many different data sources, extracting and pressing historical and current data into formulas and presenting it to users in a manner that is meaningful, such as graphics, charts, etc.

It’s easy to confuse reporting with BI – we think of a report as a magic spreadsheet that should provide us with the answers we need.  Many times, simple spreadsheets will do this, however many businesses we’ve worked with have made key business decisions based on “data” that either wasn’t produced accurately, or more often than not, produced assumptions that weren’t based on real time analysis and trending.

BI doesn’t have to be a significant investment in time, money and resources – companies should think of BI solutions as a way to improve productivity, enabling employees to focus on managing the business instead of assuming or analyzing data that doesn’t provide a true reflection of the state of the business.

Check out our new BI brochure as well as our videos and whitepapers on BI Solutions at

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