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Ultimate Guide to Self Service Reporting

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Objective: To address queries who might search for “self service reporting”?

We find answers to satisfy our daily information needs just by searching online, at the very moment when the questions arise. The use of natural language and the simplicity of the search interfaces make us comfortable and confident to find these answers ourselves, without any guidance or dependency. Modern data analytics tools offer a similar experience at enterprise data level through self-service reporting for anywhere and anytime insights.

What is self-service reporting?

Self-service reporting enables business users to extract insights from data, compile them together, and generate reports in real-time without any technical skills or dependency on experts. These reports can be customized based on individual user’s needs and roles. Self-service reporting tools help users do their own research, compile their analysis, and share their findings through reports. This encourages users to make data-driven decisions based on real-time data and actionable insights.

What are the different types of self-service reports?

Two types of reports are usually required across organizations:

  • Regular reports: These are frequently required reports generated at regular time intervals such as weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly. These are generated on a consistent basis across different departments in an organization. For example, monthly expense reports, annual performance reports, weekly website traffic reports, quarterly sales reports, and so on.
  • Need-based or ad hoc reports: These reports are generated on an ad hoc basis for specific requirements. As different situations arise, these reports are created to present answers to specific questions and understand the situation better. For example:
    • assessing the impact of a discount coupon
    • measuring the success of a specific marketing campaign
    • identifying reasons for unusually slow growth, and so on.

How does self-service reporting work?

Without self-service reporting, the quest for insights would include back and forth conversations between decision makers and analysts to understand requirements, requests stuck in long queues, constant follow-ups and reminders, outdated insights, and a lot of frustration.

Self-service reporting simplifies the process of extracting insights by putting users in control of their data.

  • Modern self-service reporting tools directly connect with various types of cloud-based data sources. This ensures that users always get the latest data for analysis, instead of using week-old or month-old versions.
  • Users access this data through a simple user interface like a search box. They can type in their questions in simple language, without going through any learning curve or depending on others for guidance.
  • The answers are presented instantly in interactive visualizations. Users can switch between different visuals, interact with them, and drill down to explore further.
  • In addition to answers, actionable insights such as trends, anomalies, analogies, and clusters related to the search query are also identified and presented to users. This helps to build a comprehensive understanding and guide on next actions.
  • Users can create their own reports by adding these answers and insights to dashboards, which can be presented and shared with their teams and management.

Finding information is always an iterative process. After they get answers to one question, users tend to have many follow-up questions. This self-service reporting process reduces efforts and saves time answering every question by removing the complexities from analytics.

What are the advantages of self-service reporting?

Self-service reporting accelerates decision-making, ensures timely actions, and fosters data democratization at every level across organizations. Here are some key advantages of self-service reporting:

  • Democratizing data and insights: Self-service reporting empowers everyone in the organization to do their own analysis by democratizing data. It ensures that the benefits of democratizing insights reach every point of decision making.
  • Improved time-to-insights: Self-service reporting accelerates the insight discovery process by directly connecting users to data and cutting out dependencies and time delays in routing requests through IT and analysts. Users get insights in real time and this improves their ability to take quick actions.
  • Better allocation of experts’ abilities: Self-service reporting also reduces a lot of iterative report requests and mundane tasks that experts and analysts have to do daily. This frees up their time and resources, which they can now spend focusing on innovations and solving complex problems.
  • Better ROI and operational efficiency: Self-service reporting increases users’ engagement with data and analytics, ensuring better ROI. Self-service reporting tools directly connect to data sources and integrate within existing systems, without requiring additional infrastructure overheads. These tools lower costs, bring scalability and increase operational efficiency across the organization.

What are common reports automated by self-service reporting?

The following are some key reports that different teams in an organization can generate themselves using self-service reporting tools.

Sales:

  • Pipeline report: Pipeline reports provide a view of the various opportunities that lie at every stage of the pipeline. Right from lead generation and qualification to proposal and closure, sales managers get visibility on the deal amounts and progress of opportunities. This helps them decide which opportunities are worth pursuing and which are close to closure.
  • Conversion rate report: Conversion rate indicates the sales team’s ability to convert prospects into leads and leads to customers. It measures the percentage of deals won against the percentage of deals lost and can be tracked on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis. Sales managers use this report to identify the number of deals won or lost by individual sales representatives or teams, spot their strengths and weaknesses, and focus on areas of improvement.
  • Average sales cycle length report: This report measures the amount of time it takes for the sales team to begin and close a deal. It helps to identify sales that are taking longer to close and the phases where the process slows down. Sales managers can then adjust their strategies and provide support to their teams during the crucial phases of the sales cycle.

Marketing

  • Marketing collateral usage report: This report helps marketing teams determine if their marketing resources and collaterals have a successful impact while generating leads and securing deals. Marketing managers can identify which collaterals are useful and what information or formats are preferred by the target audience. This way they can invest their marketing efforts and budgets efficiently.
  • Social media marketing report: Social media marketing reports track the performance of marketing efforts on different social media platforms. These reports measure user engagement, follower growth, and reach for organic posts as well as paid advertising. Marketing managers can optimize content, increase brand awareness, and keep customers engaged using insights from these reports.
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) report: PPC reports are vital to identify impactful copy, track click-through rates, and bounce rates, and measure average cost per conversion. Marketing managers use this report regularly to test the effectiveness of campaigns and evaluate marketing spends.

Customer Success:

  • Customer churn report: The churn report measures how many customers an organization loses over a period of time. Since acquiring new customers is more expensive than retaining existing ones, managers need to closely monitor the churn rate on a regular basis. The churn report can be useful to identify stages where customers drop off, uncover problem areas, and create strategies to retain customers.
  • Customer loyalty report: This report measures the customer lifetime value, that is the total value or revenue that an organization can expect to earn from a customer. This report can be used to identify profitable customers and create customized interactions and offerings to boost loyalty and retain customers.
  • Average revenue per user report: This revenue report measures the amount of revenue and profitability generated per user. It serves as a benchmark to compare an organization’s performance with its competitors. It can also help forecast future revenues, especially for subscription-based products or services.

What are the important things to look for in a self-service reporting platform?

While evaluating a self-service reporting platform, consider the following must-have capabilities.

  • Intelligent Search Technology: Search interface must be simple and intuitive. It must support natural language search and make the search experience effortless.
  • Decision Intelligence: Insights must answer not just the “What” questions, but also the “Why” and “How” to empower users with actionable decision intelligence.
  • Interactive Insights and Visualizations: Insights presented as interactive audio-visual stories improve understanding and increase user engagement with analytics.
  • Strong Report Generating Capabilities: The ability to generate on-demand reports without any technical expertise accelerates actions and helps revise strategies in time.
  • Effective Collaboration: Users must be able to share insights and reports quickly with their teams in order to work better towards common organizational goals.
  • Data Governance and Security: Applying granular data governance policies must be supported to ensure that the right people have access to the right data.
  • Automated Data Modeling: Automated data curation must be supported to identify elements and attributes, discover entity relationships, and evaluate data quality.
  • Embedded Analytics Capabilities: Embedded analytics is a must for fast and friction-less integration, effortless interactions, and seamless analytics experience for users.

For more information, read our blog on 8 Must-have Capabilities in a Self-Service Analytics Platform.

MachEye’s self-service reporting platform empowers business users across organizations with an intuitive way to gain decision intelligence from data. It is the only platform that offers intelligent search, actionable insights, and interactive audio-visual stories. MachEye makes discovering and consuming actionable insights as easy as doing a Google search and as engaging as watching a YouTube story.