BlogSelf-Service Reporting vs. Guided Analytics: Which is Best For TEM

Self-Service Reporting vs. Guided Analytics: Which is Best For TEM

May 11, 2017, Expense Management

There has been a groundswell in analytics over recent years. Working in the TEM (Telecom Expense Management) industry, we’ve seen this first hand as the analytics capabilities have continued to evolve and gain amazing sophistication. The good news for most of us is that more of today’s analytics are being designed in a way that does not require the end-user to hold a Master’s degree in Mathematics or have a deep understanding about the backend database architecture.

With the various analytics tools popping up in the TEM market over the past year – it can be a challenge to choose the best approach. This post should help clear up the differences between two of the major categories of analytics.

  • Self-Service Reporting – This category refers to the tools used to perform ad hoc analysis of data, or the build of custom reporting/dashboards. All TEM vendors have some variation of this tool-set (going back to the beginning of the TEM industry).
    • These tools often require IT support, or a deep understanding of the underlying database in order to assemble reports and dashboards that go beyond standard offerings.
    • Vendors who include self-service reports in their solutions sometimes have a robust tool-set but all require the end-user to understand how to create reports on their own or vendors charge hefty service fees for custom reports.
    • The report builder needs to know exactly what they’re looking for in order to design reports.
  • Guided Analytics – These types of analytics assume that the data and the metrics in the solution are already linked together and predefined based on common functional requirements in the given application.
    • Dashboards and drill down capabilities are already created out of the box, allowing end-users to simply analyze the data versus building reports ad-hoc.
    • There is little to no post-implementation IT or vendor support required to begin analysis.
    • Typically, each pre-defined analytic is designed to answer specific questions based on each specific end-user role or function.
    • Analytics/reports are a mix of visual and functional detail in nature, allowing both executive snapshots and end-users the ability to drill-down into individual records.
    • When done right, guided analytics support exploration of the full set of your data because all the data and metrics are pre-configured.
    • Reports are designed to uncover issues you wouldn’t otherwise know to look for.

 

Comparing Self-Service Reporting to Guided Analytics

While self-service reporting will always have its place in the TEM environment, the approach has often left much to be desired by end-users. Speaking with various organizations over the past year, it’s clear that usage and adoption across an organization goes down dramatically when individuals are left to attempt to create their own reports – especially since the average end user doesn’t have a background in database administration or report design. In addition, self-service reporting in the form of visual dashboards, which have emerged recently in the TEM market, are usually static in nature and don’t allow enough drill down capability to truly make a business impact beyond having a nice checklist of visual stats.

On the other hand, Guided Analytics works well with the fluid TEM environment because it allows individuals to look at the data from any angle. Think of the guided approach as an evolution from the traditional self-service approach. This approach gives individuals more flexibility and control than one can find with traditional reports or dashboards. A guided approach to analysis makes it truly possible to understand the entire story revolving around the communications lifecycle. In addition, user adoption is significantly increased because end-users are guided down the path of analysis to explore and uncover the necessary information.

How to tell the difference between Guided and Traditional Self-Service during the evaluation phase:

1. Guided will be pre-designed to solve a specific business problem. Traditional self-service will be all about “building whatever you need.”

2. Guided won’t require complex IT or vendor intervention for report design. Ad-hoc dashboards and reports will.

3. Guided will support drill-down capabilities to the lowest level of your data within each analytic. Ad-hoc dashboards can be designed to go deep, but more often than not, the self-service approach is broken up into multiple reports or dashboards vs. one single interconnected analytic.

Final thought when evaluating analytics with your vendor of choice

A TEM vendor that is advanced in the analytics category will have worked with their customers and have a deep industry knowledge to develop the most useful and common sets of guided analytics. These analytics will work like applications within your solution, each set to answer specific questions about your communications lifecycle. When evaluating the various vendors in the market (Calero included), be sure to ask for specific examples of these application-like analytics, and probe deeper into how they were created.

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