Reporting should not be an afterthought but a launching pad


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At Sweetspot we have the pleasure of talking to some of the largest international organizations about their reporting practices. Although each has varying levels of analytic maturity, unique strategic objectives and very different organizational structures and resources, all of these have one thing in common: the need to closely monitor and improve their marketing efforts.

Just as analytics has recently come to be accepted as vital to the marketing practices of a modern organization, companies are now starting to see the value of well-defined reporting structures and Insight Management. We are, however, seeing one dangerous belief among organizations. This belief we are speaking of is the idea that organizations must first have all of their data collection and analysis tools functioning, and strong systems in place for the use of these, before they should look to reporting.

Perhaps we are even guilty of reaffirming these types of beliefs ourselves. We have, after all, often presented the three data management tasks of marketers as a pyramid; where reporting sits on discovery and both sit on top of data integration.

data management

Let’s take a step back though and consider the real objective of reporting and Insight Management. They should show stakeholders where they are meeting their objectives and where they are failing to, and give them the resources (whether it be the knowledge of where to further explore root causes, or access to the expertise of colleagues) necessary to make recommendations and take actions to correct performance.

Taking this definition as a base, then, it is clear that having access to all information possible before starting reporting is useful. That it is necessary, however, is simply not true. Reporting is not merely for the mature organization, but can help any organization to reach analytics maturity.

In which scenarios can reporting assist less mature analytic organizations:

  • Setting out a basic reporting framework truly forces organizations to think about their strategic objectives. Starting with data integration and discovery alone without clear objectives can be futile.
  • Creating reports with access to small amounts of data will very quickly show an organization what types of data they are missing and help them to improve their data integration.
  • Structured strategic reports can guide the analyst in their work. Knowing what specifically to analyze and where that information can be found will save the analyst time in searching for random patterns over large amounts of data spread across numerous sources.
  • Analyzing data directly within analysis tools without larger context can be ineffective, as assets, campaigns and data should never be considered in isolation but always in relation to their contribution to the greater marketing effort. Furthermore, data discovery in isolation will not always allow you to draw the correct conclusions, often meaning that you are focusing on either irrelevant falls in metrics’ performance, or missing crucial signs in the performance of other indicators.

As the scenarios above show, starting your reporting simultaneously with data integration and discovery has many advantages and can certainly help you in being more efficient with the other two tasks. Therefore we perhaps need to reconsider our own data model. Perhaps the circular model below would be more appropriate. This image, as opposed to the earlier pyramid, shows an interconnectedness between the three tasks.


Companies would also do well to revise their beliefs and consider setting up strong reporting procedures from the start. Not only will this ensure they have a comprehensive record of their progress towards their goals, but they will understand right from the beginning what data they should be collecting, as well as save time by more efficiently analyzing this data. Reporting could therefore be considered a launching pad, and should never be an afterthought.

Do you agree that it is vital to develop your reporting structures as early as possible? How has reporting helped you to achieve your objectives and reach analytic maturity?  

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Megan Wilcock

VP of Business Development for Sweetspot. Responsible for strategic brand development, marketing and business development. BA/BComm graduate from the University of Melbourne. My passion lies in finding creative solutions and encouraging collaboration.

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