With emerging digitization and IoT, businesses increasingly need to access actionable insights in real-time if they hope to remain competitive. Operational reporting is the lifeblood of businesses and empowers the day-to-day adjustments that allow them to achieve their objectives and enables them to be fixed any issues as soon as they occur and before they become more critical.
Real-time operational reporting has many benefits for all kinds of businesses. For instance, the success of e-commerce campaigns depends on real-time monitoring to ensure acceptable delivery lead times and enough stock. Transportation partners need a real-time view on the status of ships, buses, trucks. Real-time data also helps with trade risk analysis and reporting, as well as speedy fraud detection.
What is real-time reporting?
Real-time reporting is the best way for businesses to check performance at any given moment and get the most up-to-date results. Static reports or batch reports, on the other hand, are usually generated periodically. They hold historic data showcasing performance within a specific date range and are still very important to businesses. However, there is an increasing need for real-time reports that update all the time to display the most current data. Using a smart Operational Data Store enables this.
Challenges of real-time reporting
Businesses need to be able to react to what is happening now because the sooner they can respond, the better. Gone are the days when they can afford to wait for days to get insights and make decisions.
The nature of operational reporting makes it a local challenge based on timeliness. To get real-time insights, many businesses will need to think about their system architecture.
Analytics need to move closer to the transaction and data integration is necessary while still maintaining its integrity.
Clearly, being able to align data and processes improves reporting, but the question for many businesses is how to get there. They need access to data that is integrated, granular and current.
The solution lies in using a smart operational data store to provide a current, consistent picture of a business at a point in time.
What is an Operational Data Store (ODS)?
An ODS is basically a central database. Data in its original format from several destinations goes to a single destination for business reporting.
Previously isolated IT systems feed into the central database and this makes reporting more sophisticated and holistic than if it is based on reports from individual systems.
A smart Operational Data Store
A traditional ODS was usually based on a relational database but applications demanding low latency were not supported. Limited scalability was another challenge. Multiple users accessing the store currently affected performance. The refresh rate was acceptable for day-end reports but not for digital applications requiring real-time data.
New business models and services are being introduced by new technology companies in areas like fintech. Their demands require more than what a traditional ODS can provide. A new generation of operational data stores and architectural designs are emerging. The traditional ODS is evolving to meet the new digital requirements of agility, speed and scale.
The benefits of real-time reporting
One of the main benefits of real-time reporting is that it saves time and time equals money for businesses. It provides crucial insights when they have the most significance, such as being able to fix problems before they escalate.
Providing real-time access for operational departments is increasingly important. This offers a clear perspective of key business drivers and is particularly important for maintaining profit margins, managing resources, keeping projects on track, resolving problems and offering customer satisfaction. Expecting operational departments to wait for the end of a period is no longer enough for businesses that want to be competitive.
Utilize resources more effectively
By being able to see in real-time which resources are stretched to breaking point and which ones are underutilized, businesses can make adjustments on the fly. For example, they can resolve staffing solutions before underutilized or vacant positions become a real problem and affect productivity.
Maintain high-profit margins
By being able to see in real-time how many hours are billed to a project, it is possible to intervene if billing is lower than expected and before it negatively impacts the overall profit margin.
Instill trust in clients with more transparency
Clients can benefit from real-time reports that employees can access at any time without having to ask someone to generate it for them. When they can view performance data at any time, this creates a more collaborative experience within the internal team and with the external parties.
All departments can access the same data
With one link and live reports that update automatically, all departments have equal access to the same information.
The decision-making process is better and faster
Instead of using time-consuming spreadsheets, managers can instantly see what is in the pipeline, project backlogs, what has been invoiced and what is already paid. This drives better and faster decision-making.
Accurately match supply and demand
Managers can gauge client demand and find resources to meet it. In the past, this level of visibility wasn’t available but with a real-time view into a project pipeline, it is possible to see what resources are available when needed.
Real-time reporting is even possible when it comes to competitor analysis. Designing competitive intelligence plays a significant role in marketing. By using the right tools, it becomes easy to monitor the performance of competitors and this can help businesses to understand the market better and make more informed decisions.
A final word
Real-time operational reporting has long been a challenge for businesses. They want to know how they can meet their real-time operational reporting needs while taking the whole business context into account.
Businesses do not have to replace their traditional ODS. It can simply be augmented to support digital transformation and offer the benefits of real-time operational reporting. When businesses use real-time operational reporting, they can avoid expensive mistakes and achieve more success in an increasingly competitive marketplace.