January 7, 2021

Reporting vs Analytics: Which One Should You Focus On?

Analytics and reporting go hand in hand but which one should you prioritize?

Written by

Harsh Gupta

Companies are realizing more and more that they need to be able to measure their success, which is why Analytics vs reporting has become a hot topic. Analytics provides the data on what people want while reporting shows you how your company is doing. Analytics can show you where potential customers are coming from, who your most valuable customer segments are, and provide information about how well certain marketing campaigns have been working. Reporting can help you see if there was an increase in revenue or decrease in costs during a particular time period. Which one should companies focus on? Analytics or Reporting


Analytics and reporting go hand in hand. Analytics is the process of collecting, measuring and interpreting data to make decisions about your business while reporting gives you information on what has happened—in the past or present.


What is the difference between Analytics and Reporting


Analytics

The term "analytics" comes from the word "analysis". Analysis is a method of breaking down and studying the parts of something in order to gain information about the whole thing (or about other similar wholes, in general). Analytics is the study of processes, especially in business, engineering and science. It involves the systematic analysis of large quantities of data or statistics to produce information that can be used to increase revenue, reduce costs, or understand consumers better. Data analysis generally involves sorting through large amounts of information to find patterns or causal relations that can inform business decisions.


With the evolution of technology, mobile apps have become very popular and marketers need to be able to track customer behavior through these mobile channels for effective decision making. In order to do so, analytics plays a vital part in understanding how users interact with mobile apps, which features they use and for how long.


Reporting

Reporting is the act of finding stuff out and then telling everyone about it in a way that makes them want to read your work. It's like investigative journalism but without all the tedious work. reporting deals with any type of question that can be answered with a simple "Yes" or "No." It does this by generating relevant reports based on predefined questions from those who know what they want to see in those reports. Then it displays those reports through various means (email, network printers...), making them available for immediate review. Those results are usually either presented as tables or charts, or listed in text form.


Reporting is better at answering the "Yes" and "No" type of questions because it can answer them immediately, without any complex analysis that might be both time-consuming and costly. It only takes the computer a moment to generate those reports required by reporting software. Reporting tools can also provide answers about things like how many sales were made during a specific timeframe (monthly, weekly, daily), how many competitors are bringing business into their site (or not), what keywords are receiving clicks (and which ones aren't). And so on. 


Analytics does not provide answers this quickly because it's designed for more complex types of questions that need to be answered. Those questions would typically be about how a site or company can improve its performance based on 

a). what was happening in the past, and 

b). what is happening now. 

Analytics provides information about what happened in the past, why it happened, and how it can be expected to happen in the future. Analytics is about developing a strategy that gives you an edge over your competitors.


What is better? Analytics or reporting?


Analytics focuses on the numbers and doesn’t just guess at them. Analytics looks for patterns in consumer behavior while reporting relies on what people tell you they have done or plan to do. Analytics can provide a company with valuable information that will help them determine where their focus should be, whether it is increasing profits through marketing campaigns or expanding through new product offerings. Analytics can also help a company determine how well they are doing in comparison to the effectiveness of their competitors, which allows them to make changes if necessary before it is too late. Analytics has become so popular that some companies have even started hiring people specifically for analytics instead of marketing or finance departments. Reporting is important because it provides you with information about whether or not your company is doing well, but Analytics provides you with the data to help you determine exactly what needs to be improved and how it can be done. Analytics is important because without Analytics companies will still have an idea of where they are succeeding and where they need improvement, but Analytics gives them clear directions on how to improve their company. Analytics is the future of business, which is why companies are spending more time and money on Analytics software instead of reporting packages.



The debate will never be settled, because both have their strengths and weaknesses. They are not mutually exclusive of each other, either. That said, they both have different ways of measuring performance, and different ways of leveraging their measures of performance. 


For example, if you wanted to know whether your site received more impressions during March than it did in February, you could answer that question immediately via reporting. If, on the other hand, you wanted to know why your site received fewer impressions in March compared to February, you'd have to go through the querying process. The results of that process might reveal that those two months were vastly different in terms of the number of people searching for your product or service during those time frame. Or that you received fewer impressions as a result of the World Cup. In other words, it would take time and money to answer that question via querying.


The question; which one should you focus on? depends on your needs and what kind of person you are. Are you someone who loves building and producing reports? or someone who loves solving new problems and coming up with creative solutions?


The people who love building and reporting are happy when things match up perfectly in the data but they are not in their element when put in uncertain situations that require analytics. On the other hand, people who love creative solutions easily get bored with reporting.


Often, a combination of both reporting and analytics will be needed for a company to have a complete picture of what is going on with its web site(s). Just as often, the decision about which one(s) to use depends on the needs of that particular organization.


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