what is the difference between reporting and analytics

What is the Difference Between Reporting and Analytics?

Reporting and analytics help businesses make better informed decisions by collecting and processing valuable data in different ways. We often see the terms ‘reporting’ and ‘analytics’ used interchangeably, when in reality, the two processes are extremely distinct. 

Reporting is the process of organising data and turning it into information. Analytics then takes that information and analyses it further, providing valuable insights that help a business improve its metrics. In a nutshell, reporting simply explains why something has happened. Analytics, on the other hand, attempts to explain why it happened in the first place. 

Although both areas draw upon the use of collected web data, their value, purpose and methods are not one and the same and should not be treated as such. Both processes are absolutely necessary in order for an organisation to grow. But by ignoring the many differences between the two, businesses may miss the opportunity to maximise the huge potential they have to offer. 

Read on to find out exactly how reporting and analytics differ, as well as how they should be used in order to improve your agency’s overall operational productivity and efficiency.

What is Reporting?

In basic terms, a report is a visual snapshot – such as a graph or table – that summarises what went on behind a particular business operation. In a marketing context, reporting is the process of collecting, organising and presenting data in an easily digestible way. Essentially, a report pulls data from various sources to tell you what is happening behind the scenes. 

Did your marketing campaign receive more traffic than usual? Have your sales dropped? Where are the majority of your customers based? 

Data reporting can help you answer these kinds of questions by transforming and processing raw data into a readable format so that you can better understand your business operations. What reporting doesn’t do, however, is offer any judgement on this data – it merely presents it. Which is where analytics come in!


What is Analytics? 

Unlike reporting, analytics doesn’t just collate and present data. Rather, analytics help you interpret your data by examining and uncovering why the object of examination is actually the way it is. By doing so, analytics provides you with a deeper study and understanding of your key business operations. 

Ultimately, the only way to understand the behaviour of your buyers is to uncover why they behave the way they do, or what drives them to consume a certain way. Data analytics aid your business decision making by helping you identify crucial trends and patterns so that you can adapt to your customers needs…and in turn, make more profit! 

If used correctly, analytics are the key to unlocking the full potential of your company data, helping you to predict future trends and keep on top of your customer satisfaction. 

What is Analytics? 

What is the Difference Between Reporting and Analytics? 

As we’ve touched on already, the main difference between data reporting and data analytics is this: while the former is a neutral tool that simply collects and presents the data it ingests, the latter goes a step further by analysing it and asking why something is happening and what it actually means. 

What is crucial to get to grips with, however, is that while the two concepts differ in their overall purpose and value, they are not mutually exclusive. Quite the contrary – you cannot have one without the other. Accurate and insightful analytics are only possible because of reporting, but the raw data reports generate lose it’s meaning if it isn’t being analysed in further detail. 

In simpler terms, reports give your organisation the factual evidence it needs to set itself clear business goals. Analytics turns this information into insights, revealing exactly how to go about achieving the set objectives. 

Data Reporting vs Data Analytics Comparison 

Data ReportingData Analytics
PurposeTo reveal what is happening behind the scenes of an organisation. To understand why something is happening behind the scenes of an organisation, and to uncover the cause(s).
MethodPulling, collating and presenting all raw and illegible business data into concise charts, graphs and dashboards.Analysing, querying and interpreting data in further depth in order to provide actionable solutions.
TechnologyReports can either be designed with spreadsheets like Excel or Google Sheets or using predefined extracts from operating systems.Analytics go a step further by leveraging the power of data-driven machine learning and custom advanced technologies to gain actionable insights in a shorter time. 
UsersReports are usually submitted to business heads who interpret the data in order to increase efficiency and track the performance of their organisations.  Data analysts, scientists and decision makers look at analytics to develop strategies, make top-level business decisions, and uncover valuable trends. 
OutputReporting generates facts about various aspects of a business, such as its marketing, sales or production.Analytics generate valuable insights, anomalies, trends, recommendations and patterns

3 Main Differences Between Reporting and Analytics 

#1.  Purpose

Although what drives both reporting and analytics is the power of data, we’ve established that their overall purpose is not one and the same. So, let’s delve a little deeper and examine the main differentiating factor: purpose.

Reporting involves the extraction of data from a multitude of sources within a business organisation in order to understand how various functions are performing. In other words, reports generate factual, easily-digestible summaries of ‘what is happening’ around a number of business operations, usually at periodic intervals. 

Reporting is primarily about offering a cross-channel view of an organisation that is – above all – easy to understand at a glance. This means that it is often more about the presentation than analysis, and is presented in various visual formats such as graphs, dashboards and charts. 

On the other hand, the purpose of analytics is to interpret, analyse and query data at a deeper level in order to provide actionable solutions. Analytics examines information by going through three stages: problems, solutions and conclusions. By doing so, trends, patterns and inefficiencies are all revealed to help you make better informed, business driven decisions in the future. 

#2. Output & Presentation

When it comes to data reporting, outputs such as concise dashboards, graphs and charts are available for users to gain quick, basic insights into a particular business operation. Reports are a quasi-essential metric for almost any business, as they help present concise information that can be understood by all members of a team. 

Analytics involves the extraction of answers using business queries that are presented in the form of insights, recommended actions, forecasts and so forth. While a report does not need any further action from the user once it has been generated, analytics require the viewer to interpret, discuss and contest the data through critical analysis. 

#3. Value

Although it may seem like analytics provide more value to a business than reports, it is important to note that this is not necessarily true. As we’ve discussed, one can simply not exist without the other! 

Reporting deals with raw data, which is useless if it is not processed and given meaning. Data reporting, then, tells you where your business operations stand. Instead, data analysis is the process of analysing that same information—or better yet, giving it meaning—to obtain practical solutions that help you achieve your goals.

Main Differences Between Reporting and Analytics 

What are Data Insights? 

Data insights refer to the value an organisation gains by analysing its business information in order to understand the business on a deeper level. By doing so, businesses embrace a truly data-driven practice, which enables better, more informed decisions. 

Data insights can be an enormously powerful tool when revealing your business shortcomings as well as identifying areas of opportunity, growth and potential

As tech continues to develop, so does an agency’s need to harness its data. By neglecting the powerful impact of data insights, your organisation is ignoring the chance to really get to know its clients and understand what they want, need and expect from you. 

Siloed vs Unified Data

Data processing continues to be a serious obstacle for digital marketing agencies when trying to report on and extra analytics from their data. Agencies struggle with dispersed, siloed and incomplete data—which makes it difficult to compete against more innovative competitors. 

With a data warehouse, agencies can report on and analyse endless data at their disposal to develop and invest in successful niches within their client base, all in a matter of seconds. By replacing tedious and error-prone copy and paste procedures, account managers save time and can deliver truly unique insights and automations. Unified data doesn’t just make your life significantly easier – it also reveals patterns, trends and discrepancies that are otherwise not obvious when reporting or doing analytics. 

Raw vs Transformed Data 

Raw data, if left unprocessed, is extremely limited in what it has to offer in reporting and analytics, yet most agencies that deal with huge amounts of data struggle to organise it in a useful or profitable way. 

Wouldn’t it be ideal if you could quickly compare the differences and similarities between customers, or analyse what was driving results for a high-performing group, so you could simply duplicate that success with others? Only by converting poorly formatted data into clear, ready-to-use formats will your business gain the valuable insights it needs to keep up with the competition. 

How to Get the Most Out of Your Data Using Analytics 

Every digital marketing agency out there has its own unique strategy. And as an agency, your data is spread across various channels: Google Ads, Data Studio, Analytics, as well as social media. 

So what if we told you that we could help you consolidate all that siloed data into a single, unified data warehouse and—more importantly—that it wouldn’t break the bank?

It used to be expensive for smaller agencies to build custom tools and really embrace the power of data analytics. But the underlying technology has changed, and we’re here to tell you that the size of your agency no longer matters. Acuto is a new type of service company that builds solutions tailored to your agency’s unique strategies—delivered by a team of developers and cloud engineers with a PPC background. 

Because very few agencies have in-house specialist cloud engineers, we offer a managed advertising data warehouse service. And just to be clear: you own everything

We help you set up and manage a BigQuery data warehouse tailored to your business, so you can sit back and focus on what you’re great at. Our data warehouse services have helped agencies from the planning phase all the way through to implementation. We keep working with them to implement data and automation solutions that set their agencies apart.

Get in touch if you would like to learn more about our flexible, infinitely scalable and cost-effective data warehousing services.

Key Takeaways 

Both reporting and analytics are absolutely crucial tools when it comes to harnessing the power of data. What must be kept in mind, however, is that although both concepts rely on collected web data, they are different processes with different purposes, methods and outcomes. 

To recap, while reporting helps a business realize what is happening within a particular business operation, analytics goes a step further to discover why and give that same information meaning

Data Reporting vs Analytics FAQ 

#1. Is reporting part of analytics? 

Reporting is part of analytics in the same way that analytics is part of reporting. Although both areas differ in more ways than they are similar, they cannot exist without one another. 

#2. What is the difference between reporting and analytics? 

The main differences between data reporting and data analytics are their purpose, output, value and presentation. While reporting is a neutral tool that simply collects and presents the data it ingests, analytics goes a step further by analysing it and asking why something is happening and what it actually means. 

#3. Are insights and analytics the same? 

While analytics can provide you with multiple versions of the same story when it comes to a business operation, and what’s going on behind the scenes, insights is the process of actually uncovering and understanding that particular situation in order to make better informed business decisions.

#4. What are types of reporting in data analytics? 

There are three types of reports in data analytics, and these usually include basic reports, query reports and data entry reports. 

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