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The demand for self-serve ad hoc reporting options is growing as leading businesses look to leverage their business intelligence (BI) tools more effectively at every level of the organization. 

In 2012, Aberdeen Group reported that organizations leveraging self-service BI reported 60% cost savings on internal support handled by the IT department. Since then, the volume of data has exploded and its potential for providing business-boosting insights has grown exponentially. 

In that same study, Aberdeen Group reported that half of the survey respondents needed data within an hour (think executives in meetings, warehouse staff moving inventory, workers out in the oil field). With self-serve access to their data, 85% of respondents were able to get the data they needed in that timeframe.  

The power of self-serve ad hoc reporting is that more people can leverage data more often, which allows individuals to make informed decisions that have major impacts on their business, faster.

 

What is ad hoc reporting?  

Ad hoc reporting is a technical term for a familiar activityasking for information and anticipating immediate answers to questions that arise in the moment. 

For today’s leading businesses, the demand for accessible, real-time data is ever-present. And, as the demand for data increases, so do requests to IT teams for custom reports and business intelligence insights. 

The volume of ad hoc reporting and analytics requests coming into the IT department quickly becomes a backlog of tasks that prevents these highly skilled team members from doing more valuable work.  

On the other side of the organization, teams requesting data must wait as IT runs and compiles those custom reportsThis process can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, if not longer.  

Requests from leadership are usually prioritized over requests from team members lower on the org chart, leaving many teams unable to make the data-driven decisions that back impactful business outcomes. On the other side of that coin, leaders need to make increasingly valuable decisions as quickly as possible 

Getting data on demand with an improved ad hoc reporting process means that everyone can discover information before it’s too old for action.

Ad hoc reporting takes menial work off IT’s plate and slashes team wait times by offering another solution: direct database access on a self-serve basis.  

 Read more: What is Data Accessibility?

 

Benefits of Self-Serve Ad Hoc Reporting 

Information gets to the right people, at the right timeWith instant access to the database, anyone can answer the exact questions they have without requesting or running a full report with additional irrelevant data. They can get what they need and get going. 

Flexibility in reporting supports greater agility. Taking a day instead of a week (because of reporting wait times) to make a decision saves expensive time and allows teams to act on opportunities as they arise, driving the business forward. 

Decisions can be made more effectively on every team. Self-serve options mean everyone’s requests are top priority, so that data-driven decisions can be made by anyone, in any role. With insights on hand, less time is wasted wondering what the most effective path forward is. And everyone is empowered to make the right call, more often.  

Significantly reduced IT costs and workload. IT teams are expensive, and their expertise is better leveraged building the business, helping customers, and developing solutions to more complex problems. Ad hoc reporting tools clear the backlog of reporting requests and put data directly into the hands of the team.  

Easy onboarding speeds adoption and reduces training time. Teams don’t need to spend more time onboarding themselves onto new BI tools or devising communication processes with IT. With self-service tools, getting data can be as simple as asking questions in plain English and getting immediate responses. Zero learning curve required. 

Read more: 7 Reasons Data-Driven Businesses Need Conversational AI

 

What to Look for in Ad Hoc Reporting Solutions 

Reduces user interface complexity without compromising insight. Not every user can be a power userBut every user needs to be able to get quality data in real time to discover actionable insights. A great ad hoc reporting solution makes highly valuable data accessible through intuitive user experiences anyone can understand. 

Enables instant access to information from relevant sources and encourages ongoing data exploration. Siloed data leads to business blind spots. An ad hoc reporting solution that surfaces historical and real-time data allows teams to get a holistic view of the outcomes of their activities. For example, a marketer should be able to pull performance data from past call-to-action (CTA) messages on the fly while iterating on current campaign CTA. 

Easy to set up, deploy, and integrate into existing solutions. To get the highest ROI on a new solution and see immediate value for the business, technology shouldn’t tax IT resources, and it should fit seamlessly into everyday workflows once it’s up and running. The faster the business sees value, the more likely it is to continue to get the most out of ad hoc reporting technologies.  

Read more: 4 Key Elements of an Exceptional Embedded Data Access Tool