What is Ad-Hoc Analysis?
Ad-hoc analysis is any business report or data analysis curated and created by users, as and when they need it. Ad-hoc analysis in business intelligence sits in stark contrast with the managed reports seen in the early days of business analytics, which relied on templates distributed by IT departments.
An ad-hoc analysis lets the user determine which data sources to pull from and how that data will be presented. One key distinguishing factor of ad-hoc analysis is its ability to offer completely customized analytics.
For this reason, ad-hoc analysis can run the gamut from a simple one-off data table all the way to intricately detailed sales reports using dashboards, interactive maps, and other advanced visualization features.
Here's a sales dashboard example:
What Does Ad-Hoc Analysis Mean for Your Business?
Have you been doing your BI homework? Then you already know about the crucial role BI plays in unburdening IT and empowering business stakeholders across the organization to engage with business data on their own terms.
It’s a little something we call: Self-service. Self-service analytics is one of the most important concepts driving better business intelligence.
David Landers, a partner at Deloitte Tax LLP, explains how using ad-hoc reporting in internal tax departments helps users reply more quickly to internal reporting requests without relying on IT.
“The more capabilities you put into tax users’ hands to meet their own needs, the better they can satisfy internal and external demands and the happier they will be with the solution.”
Bottom line: Your BI solution must provide ad-hoc analysis in order to enable true self-service reporting and greater efficiency across the organization.
IT’s Role in Ad-Hoc Analysis
There’s no doubt ad-hoc analysis is a very liberating BI tool. But that doesn’t mean IT gets off scott-free.
Your technical team will still need to set up your BI solution, connect to data sources, set security parameters, determine what data end-users can see, and create and enforce a data governance strategy to preserve the speed, accuracy and integrity of analysis and reporting as ad-hoc usage increases.
What to Look for in Ad-Hoc Analysis and Reporting Tools
If you have multiple departments within your organization who want access to ad-hoc analysis and ad-hoc reporting, you need a BI solution that uses embedded analytics to help your teams easily view and digest big data from a variety of sources.
A full-stack embedded analytics solution lets your users control how they visualize your data, and plugs right into your existing data sources (no matter how varied or fragmented) so you don’t have to invest in any additional tools or hardware to get the insights you need.
You also want to make sure your BI solution ticks the box for granular data governance so you can easily set permissions and control access based on user level, dashboard or even down to a specific row. And above all, you want to make sure your BI solution is really as self-service oriented as it claims to be.