If you’re in stage one, your company can do standard business reporting. You are pulling data from your individual sources (Salesforce, Marketo, Facebook, etc.), but you’re not capable of blending that data to run queries across multiple sources. 

At this stage, you’re downloading data from your solutions and using it to track progress, but you can’t ask new questions of the data. You can collect data about the questions the solutions have thought to build into their reports, but you’re not molding that data to fit the way your company uniquely operates.

Blending data sources for improved reporting

The big evolution that will move a company from stage one to stage two is connecting all of those input sources into a single data platform, where new queries can be run across inputs. This ability to type SQL and get charts is a basic functionality of a stage two company. Once the data is blended, it can be combined to map out a marketing funnel, close rate or a churn calculation.

One of the big benefits of maturing to stage two is the ability to create regular reporting dashboards. With all the data in a single location, dashboards can be created that pull information from all of the various sources. Rather than manually download data and enter numbers into slide decks or email templates (standard reporting processes in stage one), stage two companies can build a reporting dashboard that routinely populates with fresh data on any cadence necessary. 

Features that help a company mature to stage two

These dashboards improve company-wide reporting dramatically, ensuring that every individual is working from the same set of data and that manual processes (and room for error) are minimized in the creation of each report. Shared dashboards are a hallmark of Business Intelligence (stage two) technology, but a common data platform also enables a few other capabilities that help make data-driven decisions much faster.

Email reports are a simple way to regularly deliver key metrics to people who need data reporting to make decisions. They take the information from those single-source-of-truth dashboards and proactively put them directly into someone’s inbox. Email reports are a great way to get decision makers exposed to data and improve their data literacy.

SQL alerts are similar, sending an email to a certain person or group of people whenever a certain KPI hits a determined threshold. It’s an easy way for a team to be notified of spikes in the data as they happen. For example, if a high percentage of your customer base churned in a short time period, it would make sense for your team to proactively investigate those accounts and make changes as soon as possible to avoid losing more customers. 

An important thing to keep an eye on as you move from stage one to stage two is time to value. You should be getting results from your data much faster here since BI reporting is streamlined. Not only are your data-based decisions happening faster, they should also expand to address questions that require multiple data sources to answer.

To learn more about the stages of data maturity, assess which stage your company is in and find out how to advance further, download our Data Maturity Curve guide.

Scott Castle is the VP of Strategy at Sisense. He brings over 25 years of experience in software development and product management at leading technology companies including Adobe, Electric Cloud, and FileNet. Scott is a prolific writer and speaker on all things data, appearing at events like the Gartner Enterprise Data Conference, Data Champions, and Strata Data NYC.