Why Companies Need an Analytics Solution to Ad Hoc Questions

by Emily on May 9, 2019

in Articles

Reports are helpful for giving readers a snapshot into performance over a given period of time. But static reports have one major limitation: They only include information up until the moment of creation.

So, while a static report is good for measuring something like past performance, its set-in-stone nature means it will only ever show what it shows—its format restricts readers from diving even deeper, asking more questions and uncovering more insights as they go.

To overcome these restraints, data-driven companies have been moving toward dynamic data analysis. No longer satisfied with making decisions based on static reports, organizations are empowering employees to ask questions of stored data whenever they want or need.

After all, the best business decisions begin with burning questions. Whether or not employees have the ability to explore these questions thoroughly before deciding can make or break an organization’s bottom line over time.

Here’s more on why companies need an analytics solution that goes beyond static reports to address ad hoc questions.

Self-Service Analytics: Changing How Users Get Insights

Regular weekly or monthly reports serve an important purpose in keeping teams continually informed on certain metrics. But the ability to ask ad hoc questions goes beyond this, providing users with flexible ways to get instant insights. Ad hoc means when necessary; on the spot.

In the past, teams typically have had to request static reports from a specialized IT or data team, often for delivery at a recurring interval. But this model presented a few difficulties. Namely, it creates a gulf between a report’s end users and its creators. This model tends to leave non-technical employees in the dark on all things data—except the static report they receive as the end result.

Businesses now are moving toward self-service analytics, enabling employees to query data directly and dynamically. Conducting an ad hoc analysis on a platform like ThoughtSpot requires no in-depth knowledge of data mining or modeling; it’s about as intuitive as entering a search query into an online engine. The result? Instead of waiting for static reports, users are able to ask questions as they arise and get answers based on the most recent data available.

Advantages of Ad Hoc Data Analysis

According to TechTarget, here are a few of the key benefits of self-service business intelligence that enable users to conduct ad hoc analyses:

  • Data is more current: The answers to ad hoc questions are often based on up-to-the-minute insights, unlike automated static reports.
  • Users can make decisions faster: A user-friendly interface empowers employees of all kinds to query data directly rather than working through specialists. They can then make faster decisions and respond to “curveballs” effectively.
  • IT teams can focus on other tasks: When users can conduct their own ad hoc reports as needed, IT teams are free to focus on other tasks besides granting report requests.

As you can see, static reports provide little wiggle room for asking questions on the fly. So, they tend to give decision-makers only part of the story. Organizations looking to truly improve business outcomes need a way to facilitate ad hoc inquiries from employees at all levels.

This explains why self-service analytics platforms are becoming not only a want but a need for companies aiming to capitalize on their stored data. The faster users can get answers to questions big and small, the more efficiently they can use the answers to decide what the next move should be.

Ad hoc questions will arise. Is your company prepared to handle them? Or is your data strategy still depending on static reports alone?

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