Reporting Tools: Everything You Need to Know

The Basics of Reporting

Reporting ToolsReporting tools allow you to extract and present data in charts, tables, and other visualizations so users can find useful information. It can also allow you to build paginated reports ideal for printing. A reporting tool is typically an application within a business intelligence software suite.

Reports can vary in their interactivity. Static reports cannot be changed by the end users while interactive reports allow you to navigate the report through various hierarchies and visualization elements. Interactive reports allow you to drill down through various levels of the data at the click of a button. They also allow you to navigate, sort, filter and view the data for your specific needs.

What is the Goal of a Reporting Tool?

The purpose of reporting tools and business intelligence tools are to translate data into actionable information.

Reporting should fit within your strategic business goals in order to be useful. There are also many use cases for reporting tools from managing performance data to allowing your customers to leverage reporting of their own data.

Analytics that boost business

Want to Know More About How Analytics Boost Business?

Learn the three ways that enhanced reporting and analytics features boost sales of your core product or service.

Save Time and Money by Making an Informed Decision for Your Organization

The Basics of Reporting

Reporting software icon

Learn More About JReport’s Reporting Capabilities

Now that you understand the goal of a reporting tool and what a reporting tool does, let’s take a look at the larger purpose of reporting.

Reporting is commonly an early step in data processing that achieves the goal of delivering interactive, actionable information. Interactivity in the form of drill down, sort, filter, and other features allow you to further explore your data for the best insights. Actionable information empowers you with the knowledge to make better business decisions.

Reporting for Business Intelligence

Reporting, in the context of business intelligence, is one of the base components and, as mentioned, is functionally involved in the early stages of analysis. Mainly, reporting plays the role of visualizing data. It does so by utilizing a number of different components from charts, graphs, tables, as well other widgets. A report can be made up of one of these component parts, or many of these component parts. These component visualizations are used to represent data in different ways, but all are used for the purpose of presenting information in an accurate and usable way to end users.

Visualization and Reporting

As previously referenced, today’s visualizations contain many different ways to interact and manipulate data. The increased levels of interactivity, which have evolved as business needs have, means that the way in which users interact with reports has changed. What used to only be simple visualizations of data, are now being used more and more for the purposes of data discovery, and in some cases full-fledged data analysis.

This means that the ability to slice and dice and drill down/through data, utilize formulas, and even some base level data modeling is now being moved from the hands of dedicated data scientists and analysts to the hands of non-technical decision makers. With this added functionality, the ability to make more objective, data-driven decisions is becoming easier an easier.

Self-Service Reporting

The emergence of self-service or ad hoc reporting capabilities has also driven the levels of interactivity even further by giving the power to create and edit reports directly to decision makers, further empowering them to drive businesses forward while decreasing the workload on developers and report developers.

Enterprise Reporting

Embedded Reporting Example

Learn More about JReport’s Embedded Analytics Capabilities

However, the rise of enterprise-wide reporting capabilities has led many organizations to now face the risk of data overload or analysis paralysis. The systems which were designed to bring all of the data gathered from different disparate systems an enterprise business might have to a centralized system for the purposes of driving increased efficiency are now acting as a hindrance. A big picture view can sometimes be too big to be understood easily let alone acted on. For this reason, many organizations are now demanding a more siloed approach, and moreover an approach which makes viewing actionable intelligence, and taking actual action, easier.

This demand has created an increased need for reporting tools to be integrated with the enterprise systems different departments rely on to run a business. Embedded analytics or embedded business intelligence now plays an ever more important role for the software companies who develop these business to business applications.

This does not mean, however, that the functionality found in enterprise reporting tools doesn’t have its place in embedded analytics. And in fact, the need for more advanced reporting and administration within these applications has grown more and more. These advanced reporting capabilities such as pixel-perfect reporting, which as it sounds is the ability to precisely place different report components down to the pixel level, paginated reports, which allows you to easily separate larger datasets into separate pages for printing, as well as report scheduling and bursting, which allows users and administrators to schedule reports to one or many users and which allows administrators to burst different reports to different people based on their data permissions, are all in high demand.

The ability to deliver reports in different ways has also grown as technologies have changed. Embedded reporting tools, such as JReport, now offer many different ways to export data for further analysis or sharing. Common export and delivery options include delivering reports via email, .pdf, different excel formats, .csv, or delivery via FTP.

How Does a Reporting Tool Work?

business intelligence toolsReport Developers and report writers use report designer tools, such as JReport Designer, to specify properties such as data sources, display formats, graphical visualizations, filters, parameters and many other options that are essential for report presentation.

Alternatively, enterprise reporting tools allow users to develop reports and dashboards directly from a Web application using ad hoc reporting capabilities. By building reporting components, pulling in data, and designing ad hoc reports on their own, users have the full capabilities to create what they need in order to make speedy data-driven decisions.

Reports can be published to a reporting engine such as JReport Server which extracts data and then generates reports. Reporting tools often include scheduling, exporting, distribution, bursting, etc.

Why Embedded Reporting with JReport?

JReport is a pioneer in advanced visualizations and reporting for embedded use cases.  With JReport you can embed advanced reporting technologies such as drill down/drill through, interactivity, self-service report editing and creation, and pixel-perfect reporting. Your development team can integrate deeply into your application with a large set of APIs, and flexible integration architecture.  Backend administrative capabilities, scalable node architecture, high availability, bursting and scheduling features, and multi-tenancy allow you to scale with ease.  And white-label customization allows you to match your branding so integration is fully seamless.

Benefits of Embedded Reporting with JReport

Here are some additional benefits of embedding reporting with JReport into your application.

Add Value to Your Application or Web Portal
Advanced reporting and interactivity can add a great amount of value to your application when compared to the basic reporting capabilities of many enterprise applications.

Save Capital, Time, and Effort
Developing your own BI capabilities can be difficult, expensive, and time-consuming. When compared to developing reporting yourself, embedding a reporting solution like JReport takes less time and effort to embed, and less time and effort to update over time meaning a better ROI.

Integrate and Deploy Rapidly
Since JReport is designed to embed, you can integrate and deploy reporting rapidly either on cloud or on-premises and scale with ease.

White Label for Seamless Integration
Creating and maintaining a consistent user experience is an essential part of your brand. JReport can be white-labeled to match the look and feel of your software.

Key Takeaways

  • Enterprise ReportingReporting tools connect to specific data sources that allow end users to create reports that fit their business needs.
  • Reports visualize data creating actionable information for you to improve decision making.
  • Developers can embed a reporting tool into applications to allow users to create ad hoc reports through user-friendly interfaces.

Register to See It in Action

Reporting Software - Advanced Charts and Interaction

Embedded Analytics Market Study

JReport Ranks as a Top Embedded Analytics Solution

“Easy to embed in any software, empower business users.” -Informatica