How to Choose the Right Data Reporting Platform
“The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data.” — The Economist
Harnessing the power of data reporting and communication is now a need, not a choice.
Knowing this, what tools should organizations use to harness their data reporting?
The answer to this question is not as straightforward as one might think. It can vary depending on the size and values of your organization.
That’s why the Kloudio Team has put together a guide to assist you in choosing the right data reporting platform.
Let’s dive right in.
Understanding the data reporting needs of your organization
Getting to know the data reporting needs of your organization is the crucial first step to choosing the right platform or vendor for you. Without knowing what results you’re after, it’s impossible to determine the right fit.
To start, what problem are you attempting to solve by getting a data reporting platform? Is it to save time, avoid duplicate work, or is your organization growing out of your current solution?
Whichever the case may be, start with WHAT the problem is and WHY you need a data reporting solution.
The following questions will help you better understand the data reporting needs of your organization.
How is the data currently being stored?
First things first, where and how is the data currently being stored? Is it in a single database or separated dispersed among many?
If your data isn’t part of one single database or data processing center then your search may be more difficult. This is because you may need a data reporting platform that integrates with multiple databases and/or warehouses.
At this point in time, organizations that have dispersed data may consider the option of data warehousing before proceeding to select a data reporting platform.
This is believed to create a “single source of truth” when it comes to data in the organization.
As well, opens the option of selecting data reporting platforms with fewer integrations.
Luckily, for those that are not interested in migrating their data under a single warehouse, there are data reporting platforms like Kloudio. We are among the vendors provide bi-directional data syncing from a wide variety of integrated databases.
Who is handling data and it’s reporting?
It’s important to consider who is handling your data and reporting of it right now. These will be the main users of the data reporting platform you ultimately purchase.
Who are these main users?
- Data analysts
- Data engineers
- Entire IT departments
- Non-technical teams
All these types of main users represent a different level of technological knowledge and need.
If any of your data reporting is done by staff with less technological knowledge, consider platforms that do not require coding for further data analysis.
Kloudio was designed with the end user in mind. Ensuring that those with no SQL knowledge to those with expert levels of data engineering find success.
Who is consuming the data being reported?
Next, think about who will be looking at and using the data being reported. Is it management? Are your customers the main stakeholders?
Having a holistic view of those that will be using this reported data helps for the following reasons:
- The quality of reporting delivered by the platform must meet the expectations of those using them.
- The data analysis delivered by the platform must be sophisticated enough for the needs of end users.
- The timeliness of reporting delivered by the platform must occur on an as-needed basis.
- The collaboration capabilities delivered by the platform must be compatible with your organization.
- The implementation timeline delivered by the platform must fit the criteria of your organization.
Getting to know where your data end users are within the boundaries of the above 5 criteria will help you recognize what your organization needs from a platform.
What are the financial constraints for purchasing a data reporting tool?
When it comes to getting a data reporting platform, like all other components in your tech stack, it’s a real investment for your organization.
That’s why it’s so important to not shy away when it comes to talking about possible financial constraints and your budget.
You want to budget in a way that allows you to purchase a platform that not only fits your current needs but is something you can grow into.
If you’re a growing organization, the last thing you want is to implement a new platform and process, only to grow out of it for a year.
For this reason, forecasting your organization’s data reporting needs and capacity is a huge driver in whether you should invest more now in an enterprise platform now and save later.
To ensure the success of both our SMB and enterprise users, Kloudio delivers a platform with 4 tiers.
This is to make sure growing organizations don’t have to worry about transitioning to a new process and platform for data reporting.
Determining your criteria for the right data reporting platform
To help you set the criteria you need when evaluating the right data reporting platform, we’ve come up with some guiding questions for you and your data team to answer.
Treat it as a template to prompt discussion within your organization.
How will your organization collect data for reporting?
When determining the criteria for the right platform you need to consider how you’re collecting your data. After all, not all of your data will be unstructured and housed in a cloud solution or data warehouse.
For instance, you might be collecting data from Google Forms and looking to have it analyzed and turned into a report.
If that were one of your use cases, you might not want to take the extra step of having to put this data first in an integrated data warehouse.
To prevent this complication and inconvenience, select a data reporting platform that integrates with your data collection source and your data warehouse.
Since identifying this need, we’re happy to say that we’ve recently released an integration with Google Forms.
That means you can now sync Google Forms results to Kloudio and build a report. At the same time, you can also sync survey questions from your data warehouse via Kloudio to Google Forms.
How will your organization store data for reporting?
As we briefly touched on earlier, the way your data is currently stored will impact the right data reporting platform for you.
If you're looking to transition large amounts of data (whether it be structured or unstructured) to a data warehouse before seeking a data reporting platform, Amazon S3 is a cost-friendly solution.
Whether you have a data warehouse or your data is currently stored using cloud storage solutions, there are still many options that can accommodate your organization's needs.
That being said, at Kloudio we strongly recommend having a data warehouse environment because it is most optimized for success when it comes to data analysis.
How will your organization analyze data for reporting?
Often times the analysis of data falls into two categories in platforms:
- The first catering to data engineers who code in native languages and understand data models.
- The other being business intelligence (BI) experts that have limited to no knowledge of SQL, R, and Python.
While most organizations look for platforms that are more of an in-between. Meaning there are elements of both data science and BI, it could be that data reporting platforms are more catered to one over the other.
Such hybrid platforms allow for the best results. Catering to both technical and non-technical experts so that you may generate the most accurate data insights.
Kloudio’s growing platform is seeking to meet the needs of both these groups. Now available is an intuitive report builder for BI experts to generate reports without the need for SQL. Alternatively, data engineers can choose another option that requires SQL.
How will your organization share report data?
Think about the sharing capabilities you'll need to select to cater to your team's needs.
Start by creating personas of your frequent users and those that will need to be able to access these data reports (including use cases for them).
Then, you’ll be ready to search for a data reporting platform that is capable of accomplishing the tasks each required user persona in your organization needs.
Evaluating different data reporting platforms
Selecting the right data reporting platform can be a big investment and it’s important to consider the different values each of your options bring.
The following are 4 essential criteria we recommend taking into consideration when weighing your options. While these are important to take into consideration, do not limit yourself to only considering these factors.
When using the following guidelines, it is best to use them as a reflecting activity to see whether you’ve missed evaluating criteria.
Timeliness of data syncing
Although many vendors promise the notion of “real-time” on their websites, is this really true? Generally, the faster your data updates the better, but for some, this may come at an extra cost.
So be wary when there are varying speeds when it comes to syncing data from your database and/or data warehouse to your data reporting platform.
For instance, while Kloudio offers all users the option to schedule automatic data syncs this may not be the case for all vendors. The cadence can be monthly, weekly, daily or even hourly.
Return on investment (ROI) of platform
What comes after you decide on a data reporting platform? Will you be able to get the same if not more value from it than you invested?
Your return on investment (ROI) can be largely tied to the timely delivery of data reports.
In most cases, the data reporting platform you select will be able to perform the tasks and requirements you expect. The challenge becomes whether the delivery of data can meet the cadence of your organization.
Some factors that impact this include, whether there is additional customer support when new users hit roadblocks, whether the UX is user-friendly or if data can be populated in minutes or hours.
It all comes down to reflect on your organization’s data reporting needs which we touched on at the very beginning of this guide.
When you’re presented with lots of qualified options, it is usually professional support that sets vendors apart.
While self-help wizards and guiding templates can help your staff kickoff, it lacks human understanding when you run into problems.
The best results come from strong relationships between the users and professional support from vendors. In many ways, support from your vendor can become an extension of your data team.
In fact, this is one of the foundational elements of Kloudio’s offerings. We don’t just provide users with a data reporting platform, we also take the time to check-in with users in weekly and monthly support meetings and respond to support to support tickets in hours.
Any tool that you select must be compliant with your data security standards. Many data reporting platforms can overlook the security element of their users but it’s not a practice you should accept.
Here at Kloudio, we take the security of your data seriously. That’s why we conduct regular audits to ensure continuous HIPAA and SOC2 compliance. If you’d like to see more detailed documentation, just request it from us!
While there is a pressing need to bridging the grab of reporting data within your organization, it's possible you are not yet ready to evaluate different platforms.
As we discussed previously, leaders must understand the data reporting needs of their unique organizations before proceeding.
At this is to say, it helps generate the create necessary to evaluate feasible options in the market.
Kloudio can walk you through this guide and show you how our platform may serve as a good fit for your organization's data reporting needs. Alternatively, we may find that your organization is a better fit for different platforms.
Our focus is always to uncover the best fit for your organization's data reporting needs.
If you have further pressing questions on this guide or data reporting in general, feel free to reach out to the Kloudio team and we'll be happy to help.