Where Did My Data Go? Real-Time Data Isn’t Always Your Friend

Whether you buy an off-the-shelf reporting tool or build a custom one, some key characteristics of dataset organization will help you maximize the value from your data among your stakeholders and clients. In a data environment where data and feeds are updating rapidly, implementing these four key disciplines is critically important for ensuring accurate and repeatable reporting.

1. Lock It Down

Each time you create a new report, create and keep a snapshot of the reporting source data. That way, when questions come up about the results, you’ll be sure you’re working with the same data set.

2. Turn the Data into Information

Apply the appropriate business rules to your data snapshot – such as correct date filters, product categories and segment metadata. If business rules are not known or applied, then the dataset may incorrectly offer up different (perhaps misleading) results if the reporting output needs to be re-run through a slightly different lens.

3. Stay Grounded

While your reporting tool may aggregate totals for you, it is valuable to preserve the record-level detail that fed those aggregates. It is possible for the record-level data to change “underneath” the production reporting system because the data sources are receiving new feeds every week, every day or maybe even every minute. If the addition of new data has the possibility to alter or update underlying attributes of the data over time, then you may never be able to replicate a report you ran one month ago without major effort, or maybe not at all. As the saying goes, you can’t unscramble an egg.

4. Don’t Hold Data Hostage

Don’t handicap yourself by allowing the data to be surfaced only via your “ace” business analyst. While control is important to prevent corrupting the data, give access to key stakeholders whenever possible. Campaign data should be easily digestible and easily shared among stakeholders. The more access is spread around, the more valuable the data becomes.

Keeping these principles in mind will help you and your team achieve greater reporting efficiency and accuracy. Systematic approaches to data storage and organization will save your team valuable time and enable accurate, repeatable reporting.

Carrie Woolman, Executive Director, Analytics & Targeting, HackerAgency