How to create an effective business insight report

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Prepare the right message – When it comes to selecting the content for your business report. You need to base it on your understanding of your target audience. How they will intend to use it. By getting this right you are ensuring that all your analysis hard work will achieve the result of providing benefits of a commercial nature to business.

1) Level of detail

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An aspect of any report which is important is making sure that the level of detail is relevant to your particular audience.

On a strategic level for example, a high level business summary will be required. It will need to look over the business as a whole and may well need to be broken down in subdivisions such as region, channel, and customer segment or product area. Doing this will help to alert the audience to any vital changes taking place within a business.

However with a tactical level report the details provided need to assist the audience to understand the changes. But it is important that the balance is good. So that any details which may be unnecessary or cause misunderstanding are hidden. Yet will still provide the audience with an insight. You can achieve this through combining summarising with prioritising the results. One example is where you would focus on the top products or customers so this subset will help to show the impact they will have on the businesses top level results.

As for operational planning this starts at a more granular level for those individual stores. Product areas or customer segments and will therefore need to be provided with more detailed reports. Although you may be tempted to think like an analyst who should provide information. Because it is available and because the work has been carried out. Yet this could result in a report being created which has too much information that won’t be used or information that isn’t actually usable. So you need to choose the right level of detail for an audience when you are creating an effective business insight report.

2) Spin on content

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Many people say that “statistics can be manipulated to support an argument”. This implies that statistics are being misused but this principle can be applied to ensure reports are effectively used by allowing you to represent any given set of figures in various ways in reports.

It is crucial that we “manipulate” or “present” the content of the report in a relevant way. So that the information is delivered to the audience in question. The word “spin” does come with negative connotations but we aren’t actually talking about distorting the results simply choosing a representation of the numbers which:

  1. Talks the audience’s language and focuses on the main issues 2. Fits the shape to the data thereby highlighting the main issues within it

The examples which follow apply to all kinds of reports and illustrates a number of the simple points like 123movies. But these can easily be overlooked when creating a report. By investing a small amount of time to understand your audience’s needs and then choosing how to represent the results will ensure that the hard work carried out into the analysis will be converted into a message that is not only relevant but can be understood easily.

What are you measuring in business?

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Make sure you measure and report on things relevant to the audience. This could be something as simple as deciding whether to show the number of customers. Their value to a business in terms of profit and revenue. Or it could be more involved for example you could count “genuine visitors” to a website by eliminating transient visitors. So will make the report more relevant that if you measured all visits.

However when it comes providing reports on a more operational level the volume of customers to a business would be more relevant. For example with in flight catering they need to know exactly how many passengers they are likely to have.

Likewise when it comes to marketing communications a business would need to know. How many welcome packs would be needed for their new customers. Whilst on a strategic level the revenue or profits that customers generate will be more relevant. For example in the insurance industry if there is an increase in customer numbers it may be associated with a decrease in their profits because the new customers are a much higher risk.