In many organizations, reporting on results is simply a means to an end. For example; the output of hundreds of hours of man power to ingest massive amounts of data from an infinite number of disjointed sources that need to be pulled together intelligently to produce a bar chart that is looked at for 5 seconds. The ability to truly create effective reporting (one that that provides valuable insights that are both actionable and on-time) is as much of an art as it is a science. It is critical for companies to ensure that reports aren’t built just for the sake of delivering numbers (there is certainly value in setting up ‘Alerts’ for this specific use case to monitor critical numbers and trends), but for producing intelligence that aids in decision making that lead to business value.
Getting reporting right, which should include simplified interpretation and key highlights that can be actioned upon in some way, is a critical factor in ensuring a company is making the right choices. This will save an organization time and effort in extra analysis and trying to piece different stories together.
Common challenges within organizations are the inability to understand the difference between a report and an analysis, when these are required, and whom they get delivered to. Not every report is suitable to forward to the CMO, nor does every report truly have a ‘light-bulb moment’ outside of what the data shows.
Complications can arise due to the lack of up-to-date support material. While a company’s business objective will remain unchanged, KPIs for measuring marketing effectiveness will evolve over time. Many firms take for granted that reading a report is simple, but then lose the ability to explain it when employee’s move on or agencies change. Given the size of many organizations, it isn’t uncommon for separate teams to be involved in analytics both internally and externally who may measure and report out on the same data with conflicting interpretation. In other cases, a team may simply lack the data altogether and be out of the loop on it.
Another factor is often a lack of true data governance. This can create a tension and disbelief of the data if multiple teams own pieces of and there isn’t cooperation and coordination within the company to share and band together. In today’s environment where the activation of media requires a complete understanding of the customers, a centralized practice around data is a companies’ top asset. If the trust is not there of the data, then there isn’t much hope in being able to deliver positive insights.
How to present reporting efficiently
While these challenges are easy to fall into, they can be solved for or avoided by creating a clear KPI definition and roadmap. It is critical for your organization to understand what success means for you and how to measure it, as well as how to speak to it. A roadmap for both data and capabilities is helpful so that measurement can continue to evolve as marketing becomes more complex with the constant introduction of new technologies.
Organizations should also create a reporting ‘how-to’ guide to ensure that everyone knows how to read a report, the data that is contained, and the value it provides so that the report can be interpreted correctly and consistently. It is important that as you test on reporting practices to always keep track of the learnings that you find to ensure that knowledge is not lost.
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