The difference between reporting and analysis, and how changing our approach to data can have a profound impact on our businesses and clients is a topic near and dear to my heart.
Reporting is dead, long live reporting… It's a bit of a paradox, isn't it? In a world where new technologies are transforming the way we interact with data, we still find ourselves stuck with the same old habits. We're churning out reports left, right, and centre, but are we really extracting valuable insights from all that information? The answer, is no.
What's the difference between reporting and analysis?
Reporting is essentially regurgitating a set of facts, like a P&L statement, a sales report, or a production schedule.
Analysis, on the other hand, is about digging deeper into the data to uncover insights that can improve our businesses. We're talking about identifying trends, understanding the impact of external factors on our bottom line, and figuring out what the numbers are really telling us.
Reporting is easy, analysis is hard. The truth is our clients aren't looking for someone to simply tell them what they already know. They want valuable insights that can help them make smarter decisions. Here are our top tips for making that happen!
First things first: we need better training. In addition to technical skills, we need training in logic and problem-solving. By teaching our people how to think critically about the data they're working with, we can empower them to uncover insights that might otherwise go unnoticed.
One way to do this is through targeted workshops and seminars that focus on data analysis techniques, as well as courses on critical thinking and logic. By investing in our team's education, we're setting them up for success and ensuring they have the tools they need to deliver the best possible results for our clients.
In addition to training, we also need to change the way we approach data. As I mentioned earlier, we're often too focused on reporting the numbers, rather than analysing them. So how do we shift our mindset? By asking ourselves one simple question: "What is this data actually telling me?".
By reframing our approach to data in this way, we can start to identify patterns and trends that might otherwise go unnoticed. For example, instead of looking at sales figures, we start to ask questions like, "What impact have interest rate rises had on sales? How has the cost of servicing changed over time?" By digging deeper into the data, we can uncover insights that can help us make better decisions and provide more value to our clients.
How does this change the services we offer?
By moving beyond basic reporting, we can start to provide more advanced data analytics services, such as predictive modelling, trend analysis, and customised dashboards. These offerings can help our clients make more informed decisions, ultimately leading to better business outcomes.
And what about the value we provide to our clients?
By focusing on analysis rather than reporting, we can deliver insights that can help them identify opportunities for growth, streamline their operations, and make smarter decisions. In short, we can become a true partner in their success, rather than just another provider of generic reports.
How do we put it into practice?
Let me share a personal anecdote with you. A while back, we were working with an engineering firm. Things were okay, but not great, and the market was shifting, so they were looking for ways to optimise. Now, the standard reporting showed the outcomes, not the inputs. By analysing the data, we were able to do a few things. Firstly, we showed them the amount of time leakage that wasn't getting onto projects, and secondly, we found that some tasks were getting performed too quickly, leading to quality issues. They never would have got there or had a framework to identify these issues in advance, if we were just reporting facts, rather than analysing data.
This example perfectly illustrates how focusing on analysis – rather than just reporting – can have a tangible impact on our clients' success. By digging deeper into the data and uncovering insights that might otherwise go unnoticed, we were able to help the engineering firm optimise their processes, leading to improved efficiency and quality.
What's the takeaway here?
If we want to thrive in a data-driven world, we need to adapt our approach to data analysis. We need to invest in the right training, tools, and mindset to enable our teams to uncover valuable insights that can help our clients make better decisions. It's a challenging journey, yet one that's well worth the effort.
Now, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention some fantastic resources out there to help you on your journey towards more effective data analysis. A great place to start is Microsoft's Power BI platform, which offers powerful tools for visualising and analysing data. There are also numerous courses available online, including our own coaching programs, which can help you build the skills needed to excel in this field.
It is time for us to move beyond the era of simple reporting and embrace the power of data analysis. By investing in the right training, tools, and mindset, we can unlock the true potential of our data and deliver the insights our clients need to succeed. So, let's start asking ourselves, "What is this data actually telling me?" and embark on this exciting journey together.
Thanks for joining me on this adventure. I hope this article has given you some food for thought and inspired you to take your data analysis game to the next level. Let's continue to learn and grow together and make the most of the incredible opportunities that data has to offer. Reach out today to get started.