Data analytics is a hot topic in business management. It’s also a hot topic in technology management as businesses pursue better outcomes through digital transformation initiatives. Data analytics is, after all, billed as the ultimate soothsayer of real data meaning. Yesterday we had reporting, today we have analytics. A step forward, right?

The reality is that not all vendors claiming they provide data analytics tools satisfy the true meaning and intent of analytics — they are forensic reporting tools. Forensic reporting is the practice of correlating and presenting data in a meaningful way. Data analytics is the practice of extracting meaning from the data. The difference is subtle, but material in the overall scheme of translating data into action. If the tool can tell you what to do based on the data, it’s a data analytics tool. If the tool presents the data and does not provide guidance on what to do with it, it’s a forensic reporting tool.

So, what? Data without insight relies on human decisions. The more reliance on people to determine what needs to be done with the data, the more time it takes to act. It’s all about the business results derived from the data.

Forensic reporting has real value, but it is not near as powerful as data analytics when seeking to accelerate business results. Knowing what a vendor is providing – forensic reporting or data analytics – allows you to understand exactly what you need to do to generate the most complete value from your business and IT data.

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Timothy C. Colwell

Tim is Executive Vice President at AOTMP®

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