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Is It Time to Replace Your Legacy Operational Reporting Tool?

By Scott Seal
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The business intelligence (BI) market is experiencing tremendous growth. It’s estimated to rise to $22.8 billion this year and $29.5 billion by 2022. And as the market expands, operational reporting—a key component—is also seeing a resurgence.

Today, reporting requirements are complex and outdated tools are no longer meeting end user expectations. For companies using legacy operational reports, modernization is crucial to your success—not only to please your customers, but also to keep up with competitors who are already offering modern reporting solutions.

What Is Operational Reporting?

Operational reporting synthesizes massive amounts of data and allows for the distribution of information to hundreds of thousands of people. The end user must be able to easily digest and absorb this information. They provide a precise layout and structure to presenting data that can be delivered in multiple formats to a large volume of users with high performance. The key components of a modern operational report are:

  • A precise layout. Consider HIPAA forms in the medical industry or tax forms in your respective country. They have to be precisely laid out, the fields must be exact, and the data that’s overlaid has to be accurate.
  • Multiple formats. This includes PDF, Excel, Word documents, and even flat text files or web formats. A modern operational reporting scheme has to support all of these different formats so that millions of users can easily access the reports.
  • High performance. If you’re working with big data, you want to synthesize that data quickly and efficiently. High performance and the ability to scale are very important in modern operational reporting applications.

>> Related: 6 Mistakes to Avoid When Building Operational Reports<<

Why Modernize?

If operational reports are cumbersome or difficult to read, the benefits can vanish quickly. Let’s look at three key areas where legacy operational reporting tools fall short:

  • Obsolete homegrown reporting. These tools are developed in house and may not scale. They may also lack security or functionality. So, as you scale and grow, it makes sense to outsource your operational reporting to a platform vendor.
  • Inadequate legacy environments. Examples of long-established—but inadequate—environments include Crystal or Sequel Server Reporting Services (SSRS). Over time, these environments often lose functionality because companies are not investing in the products. They’re also expensive to maintain as updates require specialized skills, and you constantly need IT resources to manage the updates as your business needs evolve.
  • Lack of performance or scalability. Sometimes, a newer platform for operational reporting has been installed, but users are finding that performance or scalability may still be lacking. This is due to some newer reporting platforms being designed more for investigating data rather than presenting attractive reports that customers want to read. Likewise, some modern platforms are not able to handle massive amounts of data, and therefore cannot scale to accommodate thousand-page reports and/or distribution to thousands of users.

What’s a Modern Reporting Platform?

A modern reporting tool should not only address the shortcomings outlined above, it should be fast to deploy and upgrade. Moreover, there may be a range of people generating and/or accessing reports. Each report may also have to be personalized per data recipient. Think about a sales report designed for a Vice President of Sales versus a sales representative. The VP of Sales, of course, would want to get the whole report from every sales rep who reports to him. On the other hand, a sales rep would want to see individualized data on their sales opportunities and results.

Other elements of a modern reporting platform include:

  • Pixel-perfect design accuracy. Modern operational reports are crisp, accurate, and attractive enough that the end user wants to look at them. With pixel-perfect design accuracy, you can precisely place visualizations, graphics, tables, and even watermarks down to the pixel level.
  • Banded Reports. This is one way to precisely duplicate a form with fields lining up perfectly. Banded reports allow you to repeat very dense data and graphs and even nest bands underneath a parent band for customization. The bands can be grouped, isolated, or hidden logically throughout the banded report and can be complemented with graphics.
  • Embedding. By embedding the operational reporting solution into your parent application, you’ll give users a completely seamless experience. The reporting platform will look and feel like part of your application—not a standalone solution.

Learn more about modernizing your operational reports and see customer use cases by viewing our on-demand webinar >

Originally published March 26, 2020

About the Author

Scott Seal is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Logi Analytics. He has over 25 years of experience in product marketing and management. Prior to Logi he was an independent consultant providing product marketing services to IBM, Lenovo and Cisco.

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