Reporting and a report are two different stories

modern-technologies-1263422_640We always find ourselves very surprised when asked if the deliverable of our services is a report. If you read the Verteeblog, you already know it’s not! But we thought it would be nice, perhaps insightful, to share our thoughts on why a report is not reporting, and conversely.

A report is a document, and when it comes to sustainability reports, most often conveyed in writing. That is to say not only with charts and numbers, but most of all with text written by a human being at some stage of the production process. Once produced, published and audited, it cannot be re-issued or modified. Reports are not made to make decisions but to keep a party posted on a past performance. For example, CSR reports are published by corporations to convey social responsibility information (including text, including data) to stakeholders, that is to say anyone with an interest in it.

At Verteego, we don’t do reports. Some consulting partners do sell the service of producing a report, and when we can arrange introductions within our ecosystem, we’re always happy to do so. At Verteego, our vision is that transparency on data is a hidden source of performance. Our mission is to improve transparency on hidden metrics to inspire global performance. So, we at Verteego provide a data management system that collects and organises data in order to deliver reporting, analytics, predictions and prescriptions.

Reporting is more an ongoing process than an actual deliverable. We think reporting is a virtuous continuous improvement process: we are strong believers that without reporting, companies simply cannot be managed. Period. It’s like going on a diet without a scale. In any established business, how could decisions be made without looking at a robust set of metrics and information? Reporting provides quantitative and qualitative data at a given frequency (say, monthly) in a repeated manner to ensure people in charge may access the dashboards the reporting system has been asked to produce to compare different periods of time. Since reporting helps watching trends, reporting is often aimed at helping decisions be made or confirmed.

An analysis would be a reporting dashboard tuned to the specific questions of a particular user. An analysis is here to provide an answer to this specific question, or at least insights on how this ad hoc question needs to be addressed drawing on the data available. Analytics can turn predictive and even prescriptive when using past data to imagine the future. Predictions are Verteego’s best shot of what the future may be, drawing on the history of data available. Prescriptions delve on predictions to actually real-time make decisions, the automated fashion. All belong to the pallet of decision-making tools any organization in 2016 deserves.

Reports are often the visible tip of the iceberg whilst the iceberg is the actual database behind reporting and analytics. Yet, reports are still, and more and more necessary in all kind of communications. Albeit, unlike a reporting, a report is not something that is alive.

Our take is both reports and reporting are in need to become more concise, in other words crisper, leaner and meaner. But that is another debate.

We thought this confusion, fortunately not so common, deserved some kind of clarification, but please feel free to drop a comment if you wish to contribute.