In our increasingly data-dependent world, there is a slew of new terms, phrases and buzzwords that keeps on getting bigger every day. Many of them sound sophisticated and trendy but they’re often downright confusing. Worse, there seems to be an abundance of terms that seem to mean the same things although they’re very different.
Take the terms “data reporting” and “data analytics” (“reporting” and “analytics” for short). When mentioned casually, they might seem like synonyms for each other. However, they are not at all synonymous, and it’s important to distinguish their meanings because a sound data strategy needs both. It would be a mistake to think that they both refer to just one concept.
Reporting Vs Analysis: According To the Dictionary
One reason why there’s confusion as to whether reporting and analysis are separate or not stems from the fact that they’re so closely aligned. But their functions are different. With that said, let’s define them:
Reporting: “The process of organizing data into informational summaries in order to monitor how different areas of a business are performing.”
Analysis: “The process of exploring data and reports in order to extract meaningful insights, which can be used to better understand and improve business performance.”
Think of it this way: reporting is similar to writing random observations and thoughts into a diary, while analysis is trying to make sense of what those random observations and thoughts actually mean.
Another way to look at it is this – reporting raises questions while analysis answers questions.
With those two activities as distinct processes, it’s important to keep in mind that each of them may require different tools, techniques, and duration in time. More importantly, the objectives of reporting will differ from the objectives of analysis on their own. But they still need to be used together to reach broader, overarching data goals.
Reporting Needs Analysis & Vice Versa
As mentioned above, reporting and analysis, despite their differences in function, are complementary tasks needed for data solutions. You can’t have one without the other. And if you were to use a comprehensive data analysis tool such as our GLAnalytics solution, you’d see that both processes come together.
For example, let’s say you want to correct potential issues with data entry or invoice payments. The goal would be to run an analysis where certain patterns may emerge and give rise to correction. To do this you would need to collect large sums of information first such as contact info or billing information that would typically also be used for reporting purposes.
Only then, with an assortment of details and figures, could you start to look for patterns. So once again, you can see that although these two tasks rely on each other, they are separate from one another.
Two Sides Of The Same Coin, But Not The Same
Reporting and analysis are two vital aspects of data collection, and are essential for you to make important decisions from a business, financial or even marketing perspective. Just keep in mind that they’re not the same.
The more you recognize these two functions as separate (although reliant on each other) the better you’ll be at organizing these two tasks for maximum benefit. And in turn, your efforts to manage your business’ data will become more structured and streamlined.