In today’s fast-paced society and with the introduction of new technology, it is now desirable to have real-time dashboards that stakeholders can access anywhere, anytime rather than static historical summary reports. With this in mind both static and real-time reporting are powerful and useful when it comes to making business decisions. Here we explain when real-time data is useful compared to when static reporting is useful.
What is static reporting?
Static reporting is a report that includes static information about a resource like inventory, or a set of resources generated periodically. Reports often focus on aggregates like the average utilisation of a resource over a period of time. You can generate reports in HTML or PDFs and they are generally reliable sources of information.
Real-time Reporting Dashboards
Dashboards are dynamically created, web-based applications that can be accessed from any device with a browser and internet connection. The dashboards can be easily projected on to big screens in conference rooms and centres to provide streaming visual feedback of the most critical metrics that can be responded to. No longer do you need to ask someone to ‘pull up the latest report’ as it’s already there in plain view. Prioritisation is easier as the responsible teams can see the critical issues that matter the most and address them quickly.
Dashboards can also be developed for stakeholders who may need a summary of the health of any of the critical applications or infrastructure for which they are responsible. In essence, dashboards are a super set of reports, in that you can create the same content that is in a report in a dashboard but keep it continually refreshed. The report can be generated without the need for manual intervention and it is now on-demand, that’s what we mean when referring to “real-time”.
When real-time data is useful
Real-time data can be important; in some industries decisions can’t be made without it. If you’re a manufacturing business real-time data is critical because decisions may be need to be made in seconds, including instances like reordering inventory stock when inventory stock gets low as to never miss out on a sale.
When it comes to inventory management, customer service may be critical for real-time data, mainly when it comes to responsive activity. This can include anything like community management and dealing with customer service queries in social media to inventory stock availability, delivery times, and opening hours. In addition, conversations can be monitored for public relations and reputation management, for example a faulty product or service can be quickly addressed to minimise negative impacts.
When historical data is useful
For most businesses, static historical data can be one of the best ways to understand and evaluate performance because it tells a simpler, more unified and strategically valuable story than watching data roll in in real-time.
Regular snapshots featuring only the most business-critical information mean that performance can be benchmarked over a period of time to support business decisions. For example:
- Brand performance – for example trends in sales, brand awareness and brand advocacy
- Market performance – such as analysis of market share and progress relative to competitors
- Product performance – to make decisions about product/service investment or divestment based on their performance, all over a period of time
Base your long-term strategy on historical data
If you want your data to help you make informed business decisions then static historical data is still great data to use. And if you are considering investing in real-time data as well then first make sure the information will improve your business, and have a clear plan about how you’re going to use the information you receive.
With powerful inventory management systems, you get the best of both worlds. Whereby static reporting is important to benchmark business activity to better inform decision making, real-time inventory management has the capability to hone in on strengths and opportunities, as well as responding to threats and weaknesses as the arise in real-time.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.