The DataHero Blog

What To Consider Before Purchasing Reporting Software

September 16th, 2014

Reporting Software Blog-1

Companies often struggle with the option to either build their own reporting tool or pay for an expensive reporting tool that is likely cumbersome and difficult to use. In speaking with DataHero customers we’ve found four requests that come up frequently:

  • Getting data into a reporting tool
  • Security of a reporting tool
  • Analyzing the data
  • Multiple versions/updating data
  • Getting data out of a reporting tool

If you have even one of these requests, you are not alone.  Let’s first discuss the major need of each bullet and then look at the answer.

Getting Data In

Data isn’t found only in databases anymore. Most business professionals have data in many different places, whether it’s in a service or even on your desktop in an Excel spreadsheet. The problem remains the same; how do I report with inflexible solutions? That cloud data either needs to be exported and pulled out of the cloud into an Excel file, or added to a database, making it sometimes difficult for the end user to make sense of it all.

The answer: self-service cloud BI. Within this emerging market, there is a need for cloud analytics. Cloud analytics gets rid of this need to export or pull into a database, and instead connects directly to the cloud services you already use. You can then import data directly from these services into your analytics tool. These include cloud services like Salesforce or SurveyMonkey but also cloud storage like Google Drive or Dropbox.  DataHero connects directly to the cloud services you use every day, but also allows you to upload files directly from your computer or even use some creative solutions to import data from your database.

Security

Security is also a major concern for reporting solutions. Many companies are struggling with the notion that an end user may be accessing/sharing their information, thus breaching a security issue for the company as a whole.  Today, we know the end user has access to data like never before and services, like DataHero, sit on top of existing security permissions.  This means that an individual only has access to the files they were granted by their own company, making security a non-issue.  For example, if an individual has files in Box, that individual will only be able to import the files into DataHero that they have permission to access directly within Box.

Analyzing Data

The next big issue with reporting is visually organizing your data into an understandable format; charts. It’s not too difficult for developers or data scientists to pull information out of a database, but it can be time-consuming to put that data into charts, especially if this is a weekly or monthly task. Furthermore, it’s difficult for everyone to make data-driven decisions when the data analysis is only available to a select few in an organization. Usability has become a new focus for many data products, as more and more people who are not in traditional data analysis roles are asked to make data-driven decisions. Thanks to user friendly data analysis services, there is no need for stumbling through cumbersome data analytics products anymore.

DataHero’s reporting solution provides data visualization across your organization, combining datasets, anyone? A solution that specializes in data visualization means the interface will likely be easier to use and that a visualization component wasn’t added an afterthought onto a database platform.

Updating Data

Of course all your charts are of no use to you unless you have the most current data. All dashboards and reports should be automatically updated, ideally based on the schedule that suits your needs. If you have meetings every Monday morning at 8 AM it may make sense to schedule data to be updated in your charts every Monday at 7 AM. This also eliminates an issue with multiple versions of a document. In a cloud storage service like Box, to use the previous example, you can re-write documents with the newest version, so you never have to worry about multiple versions. The version you work with will always be up to date. Then with DataHero’s automatic updating, you’ll also have the most current charts. It’s that simple.

Getting Data Out

Once you’ve created the charts you need and ensured that they’re up to date, you want to be able to share them. A dashboard will allow you to keep charts from multiple services all in one place. Create dashboards by audience or purpose, in whatever organizational structure that makes sense to you. Then you can export dashboards to share with your team via email or Powerpoint. Getting data in, analyzing it within a service, and getting it out are the main functions that anyone needs from a reporting tool. There are different levels of reporting tools and it requires a little research to determine what will work best for you.

In the end, traditional reporting solutions no longer meet the needs of most end user without extensive knowledge on how to pull the data securely, analyze the data, and get the answers you need-whew sounds like a lot to know.  Looking for a reporting solution to help? DataHero may be the solution for you.

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By Kelli Simpson

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