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What is reporting software?
Reporting software applications allow real-time access to essential data and facilitate rapid generation of reports from multiple data sources. Reporting software can be used to create financial statements, track the success of sales strategies, monitor regulatory compliance, manage internal controls, and conduct security audits.
The benefits of reporting software
- Track business performance: Using reporting programs, managers and business leaders can easily measure and track business metrics from multiple departments (e.g., sales, finance, human resources, and marketing). These metrics can be quickly visualized and analyzed, allowing leaders to identify areas that need corrective action.
- Interactive data visualization: Reporting software offers a variety of interactive data visualization tools such as heat maps, sankey diagrams, donut charts, and correlation matrices. These visualization tools allow managers to create engaging presentations with data pulled from their reporting software. Some advanced reporting tools even allow users to add videos, graphs, animation and infographics to improve the look and feel of their reports.
- Enhance productivity: Managers can use reporting software to create dashboards and track performance indicators without having to manually recreate report parameters every time they need to update various documents. Reporting software can automatically refresh necessary data and keep things up to date, saving time and effort.
Typical features of reporting software
- Ad hoc reports: Generate reports to meet your business' reporting requirements as needed.
- Data visualization: Generate graphical representations of your data.
- Customizable dashboard: Edit the layout and content of software dashboards to reflect your individual needs.
- Exporting: Exports data in multiple formats (e.g., PDF, DOC, CSV) and into other platforms.
Considerations when purchasing reporting tools
- Pricing considerations: Reporting solutions often offer different functionalities at various pricing levels and models, which makes direct comparisons across products difficult. Most vendors utilize subscription-based pricing models or one-time licensing fees, and functionality such as real-time analytics, security and compliance, training, and customer support can incur additional costs. It's important to research and determine your required features before making a final purchase decision to avoid overpaying, unexpected costs, or paying for features your business doesn't need.
- Integration with third-party software and hardware: Reporting programs work in synchronization with other software solutions to provide the best results. Key functionalities such as data summaries, dashboards, and data visualization require input from platforms such as customer relationship management (CRM) software, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, and business intelligence solutions. Before selecting reporting software for your business, makes sure it integrates with your existing software and tools.
Relevant reporting software trends
- Mainstream adoption of conversational chatbots: Reporting tools won't be left untouched by the rising wave of conversational chatbots. Users will be able to directly create reports with the help of such tools. According to our research, almost 70% of small businesses are planning to adopt chatbots within the next few years. Reporting software with chatbot functionality will allow users to obtain additional data insights by asking follow-up questions, and resolve queries by providing related resources such as frequently asked questions (FAQs), demos, and blog articles.
- Predictive machine learning algorithms will make smarter applications: Machine learning and artificial intelligence are major buzzwords in the technology space. According to our research, 50% of small businesses are planning to implement machine learning technologies within the next years. Reporting programs backed by machine learning technologies will help managers predict and forecast issues to take preventative, corrective action. Predictive algorithms will enhance the usability of reports generated by these solutions, and provide senior leadership with a comprehensive view of their business.