Big data and reporting go hand in hand. But there’s ‘reporting for the sake of it’ and then there’s ‘reporting that actually makes sense’.

Demand more from data reports.While it’s clear that most businesses want the latter kind of reporting, how can they make sure that they get the data they need from their various service providers?

It starts with knowing what you want, what a good result should look like, and devising practical ways to apply that insight.

The danger of making assumptions

You probably know the scenario well if you deal with IT. During negotiations with service providers, the need for regular reports (as part of SLAs) are agreed. Typically this will include details of e.g. mobile services, data usage, costs, number of users/devices, amount of connections, availability, location, downtime etc.

And then the service provider begins sending reports. Vast directories of generic information. Identifying what’s relevant to your business means reading between the lines. And those lines are often easy to misconstrue. In short, they’re often open to interpretation.

In the absence of a meaningful outcome, the temptation is to try to piece one together – which takes time and can lead to incorrect assumptions.

The importance of strategy

Pure data is meaningless without purpose – something to align data with. Often the raw reporting data supplied by providers is hard to get any insights from. What’s needed is business intelligence and data analysis.

But unless a strategy or set of objectives are in place, simply analysing data won’t yield any improvements. Sure, if you analyse it properly you can prioritise issues before they impact the business, but without defining what ‘good’ should look like, how can the right kind of solutions be put in place?

Often data from several suppliers must be joined up to make the best decisions for a single company. But that’s precisely why individual reports should offer a high degree of clarity. Reports cover many different areas – usage, costs, uptime, downtime, system and user experience – understanding where the gaps are, and how they can be addressed is the only way improvements can be made.

Working example

Say your business wants to cut mobile usage costs. There are 2,000 enterprise mobile users in the company. Between them they’re using 4,000 GB of data each month.

But it transpires that just 50 users are responsible for 90% of that amount of data usage – the others are just making the odd call.

The top line report output might appear clear cut, but it’s not until that data is analysed and a business need is identified that the real discovery is made.

With this kind of insight, the business can now focus on making the necessary cost savings by negotiating a better rate for the 50 heavy mobile data users, or investigate if another solution might be a better fit for them.

To conclude

Given the continued exponential growth of data, and its increasing importance in helping businesses run more efficiently and ultimately more profitably, the need for accurate and meaningful reporting is more urgent than ever.

However, most service providers won’t offer specific reporting data on demand; so companies need to request it as part of the contract. They’re well within their rights to do so. It’s not about controlling the supplier, it’s about getting the right value from the service they provide. After all, any service has to add value.

But getting value from data means aligning it with objectives in order to optimise the value derived from a service – or group of services.

Here at MobilityWorks we can help collate, interpret data, cross reference it with other reports and offer added value, resulting in a better ROI. But this relies on clients ensuring their data sources are made available and that they can articulate a clear set of objectives.

Ultimately, measuring is knowing. In any discussion about reporting it’s critical to be aware of what you want to measure from the outset.