Reporting and analyzing data should ideally provide valuable information that can be used to make important business decisions.
However, oftentimes, people just go through the motions of reporting, simply because they know that it is necessary. In doing so, it is easy to make the mistake of looking through the same set of data for months, or even years, without trying to really make sense of it.
As a consequence, businesses can experience the pressure of data overload—dealing with a lot of data that may or may not have value. By not revisiting data, you will not know if the data you have been collecting is even useful or actionable.
When you do take another look at your data, here are a few points to take into consideration if you want to make the most of your reporting efforts.
1. Are your reports telling you anything useful or new?
Do you have some reports just for the sake of it? Ask yourself if you are making any decisions or taking any actions from those reports. If you aren’t, then you might need to reexamine the data, or look at it another way.
2. Is more data better?
Your data should tell a story. If it does, than more is indeed better. But piling on excessive, cross channel data in an attempt to visualize or cross report can lead you down a rabbit hole, without answers. If you can’t derive useful solutions from that additional data in a reasonable amount of time, then more data is not worth it. But, for example, if you are looking at Google Analytics for website traffic reporting, and overlaying social media data to see the affect of social posts on web traffic, then that is something that you can show your boss.
3. How can you be more successful moving forward?
If you are creating reports for your boss/manager, then don't be afraid to ask about the usefulness of the data that you are delivering, or if you can help to derive more value. Many times, you aren't the one interpreting the report, but are just generating it for someone else. Every few months, you should figure out if there is any new value to your data. Sometimes, those useful reports are catalysts for getting more out of the numbers. When looking at new data, (possibly from a new tracking system/tool), identify if it can be filtered into any of your current reporting to make that data even more dynamic.
When it comes to data reporting, know when you are just spinning your wheels, and if things don't make sense at the end of the day, then it could be time to move on. If done correctly, effective data and reporting has proven to help businesses achieve goals like improving customer experience, increasing sales, and assessing demand for new products and services.
Ultimately, bigger data isn't always better than little data. Sift through your data clutter, and focus on what really matters to you.