Report & Analysis

One of the most common functions of business intelligence is reporting – so much so that the terms are often used interchangeably. Reporting is really the presentation layer of BI, or the interface between the data repositories and the decision-makers. As more employees in a company become responsible for decision-making, easy access to reporting and analysis has become paramount. Companies are moving beyond the notion of static reports for a small subset of users and opening reporting up to knowledge workers. Reporting for some organizations is akin to manually manipulating data in Excel spreadsheets. But organizations that want to take their reporting to the next level should consider upgrading to arc plan’s reporting and analytics.

The Difference between Reporting and Analysis

Sometimes the line between reporting and analysis tends to blur, so if you want a ticket to Action land instead of a one-way ride to Robot Ville, you need to be able to distinguish between these two areas of web analytics:

  • Reporting is the process of organizing data into informational summaries in order to monitor how different areas of a business are performing.
  • Analysis is the process of exploring data and reports in order to extract meaningful, actionable insights, which can be used to better understand and improve business performance.

While both draw upon the same collected online data, reporting and analysis are very different in terms of their purpose, tasks, outputs, delivery, and value. Without a clear distinction of the differences, an organization may sell itself short in one area (typically analysis) and not achieve the full benefits of its web analytics investment. Take a look at how the two differ across the five key areas.


Reporting translates raw data into information. Analysis transforms data and information into insights. Reporting helps companies to monitor their online business and be alerted to when data falls outside of expected ranges. Good reporting should raise questions about the business from its end users. The goal of analysis is to answer questions by interpreting the data at a deeper level and providing actionable recommendations. Through the process of performing analysis you may raise additional questions, but the goal is to identify answers, or at least potential answers that can be tested. In summary, reporting shows you what is happening (numbers) and analysis focuses on explaining why it is happening and how you can act on it (words).

Structure of a Data Analysis Report

A data analysis report is somewhat different from other types of professional writing that you may have done or seen, or will learn about in the future. It is related to but not the same as:

  • A typical psych/social science paper organized around “intro/methods/analysis/results/discussion “sections.
  • A research article in an academic journal.
  • An essay.
  • A lab report in a science class.

The overall structure of a data analysis report is simple:

  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion(s)/Discussion
  • Appendix/Appendices