Why organizations should consciously segregate Reporting and Analytics

In my last article, I spoke about the need to view Analytics in a simplified, yet larger sense. Many organizations that I have spoken to, especially those that are growing / evolving, already claim to have an analytics functions. Which is why, I find it necessary to insist on a particular delineation – Separate Reporting and Analytics.

Sacrilege, you say?! 2 sides of the same coin, I hear!!

Well, the simple reason is that founders / management can then start differentiating Analytics from Technology. Let me explain.  Infact, treat this as an appeal from someone who has been an external Analytics service provider as well as built the BI and Analytics functions within organizations!

For the many organizations who claim to have an analytics function, my one question would be – Does the Analytics team fall under the CTO? That is because Analytics is often synonymous with Reports. This is great, because the natural progression for analytics maturity in organizations is to first put in place systems to start collecting data, and then move on to creating Business Intelligence frameworks to help structure this data and report ahead. Unfortunately, and this is something I have even observed directly in some very high profile funded companies in India today, this is where the slip happens at 2 levels,

a) Analytics begins to get treated as Reports++. It over time thus gets entrenched as a part of the BI (and consequently the CTO’s) team;

b) Analytics teams begins to be treated as an extension of technology and not as an extension of business teams.

Net result.. Analytics becomes disconnected from direct business involvement and decision making. And that is NOT analytics.

Probe the many companies that claim to have an analytics function, and one will find essentially a reporting team that at times additionally compiles numbers for the management. Hence the need to differentiate Reporting (process of collating and sharing data with the organization) and Analytics (structured analysis of this data).

As an example, at my current abode- hoopos (a babycare focused ecommerce firm), the Analytics team works with the engineering team to create relevant data views and reports quickly. The engineering team has in turn created a dedicated portal that every single business manager has access to with real time generation of relevant reports. Hence, while the Analytics team works closely with the technology team to create the right data metrics and views, its primary internal client is the business team. The Analytics team thus works with the line managers to solve business problems ranging from online marketing spends optimization, achieving logistics efficiencies to Targeted marketing and even product catalog recommendations!

To sum up, Analytics should work with the engineering team to help each line manager get access to tools to Analyze their performance themselves. However, management should avoid subsuming them within engineering itself!

What are your thoughts?

[About the author: Sudarshan Gangrade leads the Analytics and Digital marketing work at Hoopos.com, a babycare focused Ecommerce firm.  Sudarshan has a wide breadth of experience in the Analytics industry - from creating an analytics practise from scratch within an organization to providing analytics consulting to Fortune 100 Global FMCG majors. Before hoopos, Sudarshan worked for 2 years with the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). He anchored the creation and running of the Analytics and Reporting backbone for UIDAI and earlier worked for Marketics. Sudarshan is an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur and IIM Bangalore.]