Many people use reporting and business intelligence (BI) tools interchangeably without knowing the difference. Reporting and business intelligence are not based on charts alone; they go further. Automated reports from multiple data sources help businesses by producing reports effortlessly in a defined time period—whereas BI helps businesses explore data seamlessly and more efficiently. Each is a different tool with a different purpose.
In this blog post, I am going to give you a walkthrough on automated reporting and BI, describing where and how they can be used by looking at a simple use case and discussing the following aspects:
- What automated reporting is.
- The key benefits of automated reporting.
- What BI is.
- The key benefits of BI.
- Automated reporting with a use case.
- Business intelligence with a use case.
- Automated reporting vs BI: what an organization should consider.
Let’s dive into each topic in detail.
What is automated reporting?
Automated reporting provides relevant data to users in a defined time interval in an automated way without any manual effort. With automatically generated reports, you can evaluate how your business is performing, and you can easily compare that performance with previous reports; based on that comparison, you can define strategies.
Key Benefits of Automated Reporting
Saving time and money
Extracting a final report from raw data is a tedious process; it requires more resources. Gathering the data itself consumes so much time that it leaves less time to evaluate the reports. On the other hand, automated reports from multiple data sources favor many small businesses by saving resources and time.
Reducing risks and improving efficiency
When reports are prepared manually, there’s the potential they might contain mistakes, but automated reporting speeds up the process. At the same time, it reduces human errors and generates accurate reports so that companies can rely on them.
Increasing analysis frequency
Automated reports from multiple data sources give you the option to schedule frequent reports at small intervals—like every four hours, every day, every week, or more—so you can respond appropriately when a difficult situation arrives.
What is BI?
BI helps you analyze data over a period of time and gives you insights on how things can be done more profitably. BI identifies trends that can inform strategic business decisions and objectives that will improve the overall performance of the businesses based on multiple data sources (CRM data, marketing data, sales data, web API data, file storage data, etc.). This leads to the discovery of more business opportunities for your company.
Key benefits of BI
Visualization makes analysis much easier for users. With BI tools, you can visualize complex data with various widgets such as pivot tables, grids, charts, maps, and more. You can also customize the widgets based on your needs, like the color scheme, indications, and graphics.
Improved data connectivity
With modern BI tools, a dashboard can be integrated easily with a vast range of data sets. This will open many opportunities to explore the data. You can also embed the dashboards to provide a unified user experience.
BI tools help you schedule reports and set up automatic data refreshing. They can also send reports via various formats, such as image, PDF, and Excel, when reaching an applied threshold.
Automated reporting with a use case
For example, consider pharmaceuticals drug sales performance with automated reporting. You can analyze sales and profit over the current quarter, and the end of the quarter will show the pharmaceutical department what it must do to meet the current organization’s target.
Let’s consider another example from the education domain. You can analyze and monitor student enrollment by current year, and the end of the year will show the education administrators what they need do to meet the current enrollment goal. But from this information alone, it is not possible to predict next year’s enrollments.
Business intelligence with a use case
For example, analyzing pharmaceuticals drug sales performance, you can analyze and monitor sales and profit of a drug over the past quarters, and you can easily compare current quarter sales and profits with previous quarters. This will help your marketing and sales teams perform better in terms of sales productivity.
Our pharmaceutical sales performance dashboard gives you an overview of Rx (prescription) sales and non-Rx (non-prescription) sales performance over different states via key metrics. You can compare the changes over different quarters and channels, and you can analyze the sales and profit incurred.
With the pharma sales performance dashboard demo, key decision-makers can analyze and monitor metrics to stay informed on drug performance, actively track sales representative performance, and better manage inventory. With business intelligence solutions, you can gain insight into every dimension of a business and its position in the industry.
Let’s consider another example in education. Educational administrators can analyze and track enrollment changes each year. They can forecast enrollment over the next three years based on the previous year’s enrollment. Administrators can then easily plan for the future and allocate resources accordingly.
The K-12 Education Enrollment Dashboard helps you track enrollment trends, student-to-faculty ratios, the top five districts on enrollment, student acceleration, and the operating budget of each school. This provides a comprehensive view of the performance of each institution and student body. You can also forecast enrollment for the next three years.
To learn more about the metrics and KPIs used in this dashboard example, refer to the K-12 Education Enrollment dashboard demo.
You can connect data from multiple sources (accounting, sales and CRM, social media, support, storage sources, web sources, databases, and even more data connectors) using business intelligence. You can find more dashboard examples with multiple domains and integrations demos with sample data.
Now let’s look at the real differences between BI and automated reporting.
Automated reporting vs. BI
Automated reporting tells you how well the organization is performing.
Business intelligence tells you how your organization is performing, what areas need to improve, and how to improve them.
Automated reporting allows you to track static data.
With business intelligence, you can track KPIs and metrics from your business data in real time.
Automated reporting only allows you to track previous and current data; you cannot predict future data and trendlines.
With business intelligence, you can forecast future data. This helps predict outcomes and adjust goals based on trends. Also, you can explore the general pattern or overall direction of the data with a trendline.
Automated reporting vs BI: what an organization should consider
Both automated reporting and BI have many proven advantages when properly implemented. Both will break down data and allow users to make the most of their insight. When automated reporting is incorporated with a business intelligence application, it will bring you the advantages of both approaches. Before choosing one, define your needs and budget based on your business. Implementing automated reporting or BI helps companies have more control and visibility over processes.
Why don’t you give it a try?
I hope now you have a better understanding of automated reports and BI tools. Bold BI provides many dashboards that support multiple domains. Bold BI helps you visualize your data so that you see the potential results available in your data and gain insight by tracking all your important metrics and KPIs in real time.
Bold BI helps you integrate dashboards in your applications written in ASP.NET Core, ASP.NET MVC, ASP.NET, and Ruby on Rails. It will save you time by helping you avoid redundant work. Click this link to explore its features. To learn more about embedding dashboards into your application, refer to this blog and our documentation. You can create a dashboard any way you like with Bold BI’s 35 widgets and 130 supported data sources.
Get started with Bold BI by signing up for a free 15-day trial and create more interactive business intelligence dashboards. You can contact us by submitting questions through the Bold BI website or, if you already have an account, you can log in to submit your support question.