Friday, December 02, 2011

Reporting, Analysis and Insights

Why do we suffer from report inflation?

Reporting isn't sexy, so we call it 'analysis'.   Analysis isn't worthy of C-level discussions so we call it insights and strategy.  So, let's put some context of how each is used.   Here's how I look at:
  • Reporting: Give me answers to questions I already know I need answers to.
  • Analysis: Tell me why what I expected to happen didn't happen.
  • Insights: Tell me something I didn't know I needed to know.
As a business operating with many parts 'reporting' should be the lingua franca across the organization - the same concepts, similar metrics, and the foundation for any discussion about performance and goals.   Analysis on the other hand tends to be unique to a specific area and often requires domain expertise to understand the nuances of a business.   Insights are often derived when a fresh perspective is applied - either from outside or from challenging some base assumptions.

If the above is a reasonable description then it should follow that the skills necessary to accomplish the tasks typically don't reside in anyone individual or even group; they are completely different. 

Too bad we try to put square pegs in round holes.

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