Ad hoc reporting is the creation of dynamic, real-time reports by users on an as-needed basis. Since empowering end users with ad hoc reporting functionality enables them to answer business questions at the moment they occur, users move from static reporting to dynamic queries, asking and answering questions about their data.
Users of ad hoc reporting software also benefit from the ability to make on-the-fly changes to report elements – adding or changing fields, sorting or summarizing fields, or pivoting on data, for example – highlighting one of the many ways in which this dynamic functionality generates value across a multitude of industries.
Prior to the emergence of modern BI and analytics platforms, ad hoc data exploration was confined to tools such as Excel or Access. With little or no oversight, data governance, data security, or disaster recovery planning, these tools posed significant problems for organizations. Since each department typically created its own data silo, the data used for reporting was often outdated or inaccurate. As many organizations still use Excel in their reporting process, these problems haven’t entirely gone away.
In the Past, Ad Hoc Reporting Was IT Driven, Not Business Driven
Although the adoption by organizations of modern BI platforms – which allowed ad hoc reporting against increasing volumes of data – solved many of these problems, it also introduced new issues. These tools usually required ETL of reporting data into a data warehouse. ETL updates and OLAP queries again left end users dependent on IT departments.
Fortunately, the latest generation of BI software has returned ad hoc reporting to application end users. New functionality, including “embeddability” and semantic search, means that end users can produce ad hoc reports inside their business application’s workflow without having to understand the underlying data models.
In addition to new functionalities like embeddability and semantic search, the most recent generation of BI software also features each of the following benefits:
- End-user empowerment to create their own reports and dashboards inside business applications
- Responsive design for data driven decision making by workers in the field
- In context analytics so users have data and analytics when they need it to make decisions within the applications workflow
- Real-time data for more immediate and impactful decision making
- Collaboration and sharing capabilities so insights from ad hoc queries can be shared with other users
These general features and functionalities of modern BI solutions that provide ad hoc reporting deliver value specific to companies representing a wide range of industries, including finance, healthcare, government, education, retail, logistics, and small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs), among many others.
1. Self-service business analysis
Helix Reports, like most businesses operating within the financial sector, relies on data analytics to improve ROI. A platform featuring self-service business analysis enables companies in the financial sector to recognize relevant factors and trends – and to ultimately take meaningful action – regarding attendance, benefits, human resources, and payroll.
Helix Reports embedded Izenda’s self-service BI to provide access to real-time analytics, something customers increasingly expect from a reporting tool. In addition to meeting the analytics needs of its customers, Helix Reports allows their customers to avoid the added costs of a six-figure accounting staff traditionally needed to perform create reports and to conduct ad hoc analysis as companies grow. The cost-efficient, mobile-friendly reporting solution offers business owners easy access to the vital data necessary for analyzing financial positions.
2. Increased efficiency in identifying the trends most likely to affect ROI
Ad hoc reporting enables Towers Watson to identify relevant factors and trends affecting nearly 8 million employees and retirees. This yields substantial gains in operational efficiency – which in turn leads to greater improvements in ROI for the organization.
Towers Watson administers benefits for employees and retirees using their BenefitConnect solution. The global professional services company provides its clients with the tools to create ad-hoc reports that help them track progress and trends to support strategic business decisions. The solution maps to the company’s databases to deliver customizable reports in real time.
3. Developers can focus on higher-order issues while enhancing core-application value
Financial sector companies relying on outdated payment processing systems have to contend with a host of inefficiencies requiring the attention of developers. This cuts the time they have available to enhance core-application value. Visibility Software chose to partner with Izenda for an ad hoc reporting product for use in its application, its maintenance, testing, updating and support. Integrating Izenda’s self-service reporting solution enabled the software company to keep its resources focused on its own application development while still adding the value of ad hoc reporting.
Affiliated Acceptance Corp. demonstrates how the switch to a new business intelligence reporting system can free developers to focus on generating additional value for clients through enhancements to the core application rather than repeatedly revisiting client reporting requests. Self-service functionality and easy onboarding ensure a high level of user adoption and engagement of the BI system.
4. Cost efficiency of ad-hoc reporting ensures that providing valuable analytics and a straightforward user experience does not compromise product development or reporting
The inherent competitiveness of companies operating within the finance industry requires adopting cost-efficient practices that don’t detract from the products and services provided. Companies like FundTrack benefit from designing the ad hoc reporting platform according to the specific needs of the hundreds of non-profit organizations and their users in the United States that rely on the software company’s donor management software. FundTrack integrated Izenda’s solution because it is responsive and allows end users to build reports and perform ad-hoc analysis to answer questions about their data. This increases the cost efficiency of the web-based platform for FundTrack and its customers.
5. Enhanced efficiency in application redesign process requires less IT support, thereby reducing costs
The integration of a web-based reporting solution ensured TicketReturn experienced the additional value of an intuitive application redesign capable of eliminating any unnecessary reliance on IT support. Embedding BI adds a full set of ad hoc reporting functionality to the company’s box office and online ticketing services, fully customized inside their application. End users require significantly less time to build reports, which can be changed or created with just a few clicks. They gain the flexibility to add and change filters and fields on reports, freeing development resources to focus on other initiatives and reduce the cost to support the solution.
6. Flexible reporting leads to greater data visibility
Essette, a healthcare sector software company, required ad hoc reporting tools that deliver meaningful insight from a substantial underlying data warehouse. Flexible reporting tools such as those in Izenda’s analytics solution that are embedded in Essette Dashboard enable greater data visibility to the benefit of a wide range of potential users – and patients – within the typical healthcare setting.
For Essette, embedding an ad hoc reporting solution speeds and simplifies data-driven analysis to provide healthcare organization leaders with the information needed to make prompt decisions. Today’s healthcare organizations must meet the needs of auditors, management teams and boards, which Essette accomplishes with ad hoc reports and dashboards with data visualizations. Essette Dashboard enables users to gain insight from the enormous amount of data captured by Essette applications to identify trends and outliers without the need for extensive IT support.
7. Rapid data analysis made available to senior leadership teams
By enabling senior leadership teams to engage in rapid data analysis with ad hoc reports, Intersect Healthcare creates clear value. The software company incorporates user-defined dashboards and reports to enable senior leadership teams to analyze data in the fast-paced healthcare sector setting. Izenda’s flexible ad hoc reporting tool provides end users with optimal visibility into the underlying data. This enables senior leadership teams to quickly and easily conduct any necessary analyses based on the most relevant data in real-time, resulting in strategic decisions made in the context of the healthcare organization’s business.
8. Simplified management of accessing multiple databases
Companies operating in the healthcare sector have an abundance of data available, but the difficulty arises in accessing the correct data to ensure end-users are able to draw meaningful, data-driven conclusions. Izenda incorporates cross-database reporting with its embedded analytics solution to enable companies to quickly reference any relevant data within their ad hoc reports.
Intersection Healthcare makes use of Izenda’s ability to give access to the right data to end users who need it through its VERACITY Revenue Compliance platform. Thousands of hospital finance and compliance professionals use this application throughout the United States. Izenda’s ad hoc reporting tools support the creation of user-defined dashboards and reports, ensuring that the healthcare professionals using the VERACITY platform draw on only the most relevant information pertinent to their roles that’s made available to them. Izenda inherits the security model set by the Intersection Healthcare platform, adopting its strictly defined user roles and permissions, with access only to appropriate data, all to preserve compliance to privacy and other regulatory requirements.
9. Self-service functionality leads to reduced IT reliance
Intersect Healthcare’s use case also shows the inherent cost efficiency generated through self-service functionality. Ad hoc reporting and interactive dashboards enable real-time tracking of key performance metrics and underlying data analyses while also making it easy to create, modify, or view reports – all without substantial IT support. Intersect recognized the inherent value of an ad hoc reporting tool capable of reducing the necessity of significant IT support by enabling a greater degree of self-service functionality.
10. Ease of implementation and fast time to market
Intersect Healthcare also cited the level of self-service functionality and the lower total cost of ownership as among the many ways ad hoc reporting solutions create value. Intersect Healthcare pointed to the ease of implementation and the fast time to market as instilling additional confidence in the company’s decision to opt for embedded ad hoc reporting software to meet the needs of clients in the rapid-paced healthcare sector.
Brian McGraw, the CEO of Intersect Healthcare, explicitly referenced these points as key factors in the decision to partner with Izenda on a BI solution when they were engaging with one of the nation’s largest healthcare providers. He said, “Ad hoc reporting and dashboard capabilities were an integral part of the solution for the client.” Izenda worked overtime during the short evaluation window to meet their client’s requirements, making them feel confident in the decision to embed Izenda within VERACITY.
“We chose Izenda over a number of competitors because of its ease of implementation, fast time-to-market and lower total cost of ownership,” McGraw said.
11. Data visualization tools lead to quick decisions based on data-driven analysis
Data visualizations are especially valuable within the healthcare sector, enabling prompt, data-driven analysis while meeting the needs of the wide range of end users through user-created reports. When hospitals need to give medical supply teams actionable data, they can choose a major surgical supply chain software solution’s platform, which utilizes ad hoc reporting and analytics.
Real-time data helps medical supply teams reduce on-hand inventory levels, improve patient outcomes, decrease wasted time and materials, and dramatically improve provider and patient satisfaction scores. The analytics solution enables the medical supply teams to choose the correct supplies from more than 15,000 pieces of inventory in a surgical supply room in real time in plenty of time for surgical procedures. Team users scan parts with a handheld device and shift supervisors spot errors in real time in the dashboards on a big screen in the stockroom.
Operations managers use analytics to find trending problems via daily reports on a desktop or mobile device, drilling down on the data to discover the causes of the problems. Delays in delivering the correct supplies keep a dozen or more medical professionals including surgeons, nurses and anesthesiologists tied up and delays that procedure and all others on the schedule for that day. Preventing these delays not only improves ROI for the hospitals but, more importantly, improves patient health outcomes.
12. Ad hoc reporting ensures compliance, saves time and reduces errors
Maintaining HIPAA compliance while saving time and reducing errors adds value to any existing system within a healthcare setting, particularly when rapid deployment is necessary. EDIMS, a management systems company that work with hospitals and other medical groups, needed an ad hoc reporting tool capable of being rapidly deployed within its existing systems. The company turned to Izenda for a solution to help maximize the productivity, service quality, and profitability of emergency departments. In doing so, EDIMS ensured its clients have real-time access to critical reports while adhering to HIPPA compliance requirements.
Similarly, Ample Organics serves as the infrastructure as well as the system of record for most the Canadian medical marijuana industry. The company chose Izenda’s business intelligence solutions to ensure adherence to medical compliance obligations. The analytics solution also provides opportunities to enhance operational efficiency and quality assurance through customized real-time analysis of the thousands of data points available to Ample Organics customers.
13. Data-driven decisions for public resource allocation
With a minimal cost of implementation and reduced training needs for non-technical users, embedded ad hoc reporting creates significant value for government agencies. That’s especially true for public safety agencies served by software applications delivered by Orion Communications and emsCharts, Inc. These public safety agencies need a data-driven solution for optimizing resource allocation, determining incident costs and evaluating staffing needs.
Orion Communications uses Izenda’s ad hoc reporting solution to enable government employees or researchers to easily conduct ad hoc analysis such as determining the impact of the availability of a new street drug on the community and its ambulatory, police and other emergency services. The software company integrated an ad hoc reporting solution that allowed government personnel to utilize real-time information that, when combined with past analyses, they use to develop benchmarks for determining the optimal way to respond to new data. This provides additional clarity in deciding where to deploy services or how to change staffing in real time.
The value of enhanced resource allocation is also evident in Izenda’s partnership with emsCharts, Inc. HIPAA compliance is assured through the ability to lock down access to individual’s personal health data to only those needing access to what’s relevant for deciding how to provide the optimal level of care. The analytics solution helps reveal trends such as the rate of people suffering chest pains or drug overdoses in a community in a few seconds with data visualizations. Uncovering these trends then aids in improving the allocation and management of the available resources.
14. Automate traditionally manual processes
Izenda’s embedded analytics solutions empower Orion Communications to allow government clients to automate a number of traditionally manual processes involving seniority and overtime eligibility as well as compliance with union, regulatory, or FMLA rules. Public safety agencies using Orion’s application can set up a series of automated alerts to ensure that personnel schedule any required training or professional certifications renewals well in advance of the expiration date for current certifications.
15. Cost benefits of enhanced operational efficiency
Ad hoc reporting enables accurate, real-time insights regarding workforce activities and compliance results. Additionally it involves improvements to operational efficiency in terms of scheduling, personnel allocation, and equipment use and maintenance. InBound Technologies uses ad hoc reporting embedded into the software company’s DockLink application to track operations at warehouses and stores in real-time. Izenda’s customizable ad hoc reporting tools allow end users to create reports to analyze relevant data points on time and labor needs so that they can improve operational efficiency according to the needs of individual warehouses and stores.
16. Real-time data access across multiple government agencies
Ad hoc reporting solutions embedded into applications by companies like Orion Communications that integrate disparate systems of multiple government agencies ensure government agencies benefit from real-time access to relevant data regardless of its original source. In addition to enabling data-driven decision-making, they also experience added value by ensuring compliance with all relevant rules and regulations.
Orion Communications chose Izenda’s analytics solution because it integrates with other systems to collect data from both internal and external sources. By embedding Izenda, Orion allows separate government agencies – including police and sheriff departments as well as corrections facilities, emergency medical services and fire agencies – access to real-time data analytics when making highly consequential decisions on allocation of human and equipment resources for each agency.
17. Loss prevention
Loss prevention software featuring ad hoc reporting enables LP Software clients to develop specific solutions for their retail outlets that lead to actionable insights based on a data-driven analysis of any relevant trends. LP Software clients realize substantial gains in value from the ability to create unique reports that enabled the development of store-specific solutions for enhancing loss prevention.
18. Customizable Reporting
Customizable, intuitive and easy-to-use ad hoc reporting solutions ensure end-users of Pareto Business Group’s application have all the data necessary to take meaningful action within a retail setting or for any SMB. Along with visualization tools simplifying trend identification processes, this represents significant added value for Pareto’s retail clients. The software company experienced added value through its partnership with Izenda, as the cost-efficient self-service analytics solution offered by Izenda featured the depth of functionality typically associated with enterprise application. The company’s CTO said Izenda makes it easy to drill-down and explore data in real-time, giving businesses more time for analysis and less time required to create reports.
19. Intuitive ad hoc reporting stimulates information sharing among departments
In the education sector served by Jenzabar, ad hoc reporting stimulates interdepartmental information sharing. It enables trend recognition along with any potentially relevant correlations based on the immediate availability of accurate, up-to-date data. With accurate and timely trend recognition and correlative analyses, Jenzabar’s application enables education departments to become far more responsive on students’ and higher education institutions’ needs as they have the ability to act on real-time data analytics.
20. Data filtering streamlines processes
The intuitive design and easy data filtering options inherent in Jenzabar’s EX application resulted in streamlined processes across multiple departments at institutions of higher learning. The integration capabilities and overall ease-of-use of the business intelligence and analytics platform drives greater user adoption rates. As a result, Jenzabar generates increased ROI through service monetization, creating additional value for the company.
The utility of an easy-to-use and intuitive interface is shown by 75 new clients adopting Jenzabar’s EX application in the first three months after integration of the analytics solution, pushing total sales to well over 200 in the first three quarters alone. Those 75 new clients allowed Jenzabar to achieve a 60-percent growth rate over a span of just three months, largely due to practicality and intuitiveness of the embedded analytics solution.
21. Ad hoc reporting turns data into usable information
Real-time dashboards with visualizations help companies with trends and exceptions, allowing companies to immediately react to changes in the marketplace. Once areas for potential analysis are called-out in a dashboard with ad hoc reporting users are able to iteratively analyze data and explore further trends and exceptions called out in the dashboard. Many analytics solutions incorporate benchmarks into the dashboards or reports to guide users in identifying issues.
22. Resolving inefficiencies by drilling down into data
Drilling down into the data enables logistics companies to get to the root of any inefficiencies, including those pertaining to geography, routing, unloading at the docks or a host of other factors. Ad hoc reporting solutions add significant value for the logistics sector by enabling companies to drill down into the available data to resolve even the most minor of supply-chain inefficiencies. This analysis can be applied to improve decisions by drivers or to refine the model used to determine optimal routes. Ad hoc reporting also helps to pinpoint causes that are impacting standard operating performance enabling data-driven corrective actions.
23. Ad-hoc reporting provides enterprise-level functionality to SMBs
Ad hoc reporting solutions allow small to mid-sized businesses to incorporate enterprise-level functionality at an affordable rate. Pareto Business Group’s SMB clients operate in a variety of industries. The economics of integrating Izenda’s ad-hoc reporting made it possible to distribute Pareto’s value-added application to smaller businesses while providing a depth of functionality typically found only in enterprise-level applications. The seamless software integration helps make Pareto a more agile company with a self-service embedded business intelligence platform that provides the enterprise-level functionality customers require at a price they can afford.
24. Flexible system, intuitive reporting
An intuitive and flexible ad hoc reporting solution creates value for SMBs by streamlining, automating or otherwise eliminating processes, reducing overhead costs, and enhancing communication and collaboration between all parties. Auric Technology implemented ad hoc reporting in its application to create additional value for customers by enabling data-driven business decisions while reducing the reliance on IT and requiring less training for end users, resulting in substantial cost reductions.
In addition to the flexible system and intuitive ad hoc reporting made possible through a partnership with Izenda, Auric Technology experienced substantial cost reductions simply by avoiding the expenditures associated with building the system internally, cutting the of time and energy required of company personnel to complete such a project. The Izenda integration created significant competitive advantage over larger competitors with its easy to use self-service analytics.
25. Track organizational progress toward goals and objectives
Since ad hoc reporting enhances workforce visibility and yields greater efficiency in resource allocation, SMBs find it much simpler to track the progress of any organizational goals and objectives. This yields significant value using a more data-driven approach to developing any additional goal-oriented strategies.
26. Data-driven marketing and sales decisions
The data-driven marketing and sales decisions made possible through ad hoc reporting solutions further ensure that SMBs experience additional value through efficient resource allocation. Data-driven processes allow SMBs to accurately identify an ideal target demographic for marketing purposes, thereby ensuring a greater level of efficiency in resource allocation.
Ad hoc reporting has become critical for improving operational performance and empowering business users. The trend toward data democratization will continue to intensify as developers integrate analytics in every part of their business applications. To successfully equip the end user with the tools needed to make the best business decisions requires data access anywhere, from any data source, and in a format that can be used and understood.
Expect further automation of ad hoc reports as developers of software applications work to embed predictive and prescriptive elements into their products. The need for intuitive user-driven ad hoc reporting will not go away: As organizations solve problems and automate processes, new questions by business users will surely emerge — and ad hoc reporting will be a first-line solution for answering these questions.
These industry examples illustrate how integrated ad hoc reporting can improve the quality of data-driven decision-making.
Users of your application have a growing need for data analytics to support their business decisions. But every custom report request sent to IT takes valuable time away from your application development team — and makes your customers wait for answers.
Izenda delivers ad hoc reporting tailored to your end users’ needs, right inside the daily workflow of your application. Ad hoc reporting is one component of a self-service analytics platform purpose-built for OEM use and integration in business applications.