Understanding the difference between reporting and analysis with examples

Understanding the difference between reporting and analysis with examples

Reporting and Analysis are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they are two different things. Reporting usually answers ‘what’, whereas Analysis answers the how, why, and so what? Reporting is about presenting data, whereas Analytics is about making sense out of that data and deriving the salient points. Reporting often gives rise to questions, that are answered by data analysis.

Modern day technology has made data collection very convenient. Any and every activity that happens on your advertising platforms, social media handles, and digital channels can be recorded and presented to you in the form of data. Sophisticated tools have cut down the reporting time from several days until a couple of decades ago to almost real time. Recording and analyzing data is not new. It dates back to several thousands of years! Archaeologists have found documents in Mesopotamia that look like ancient forms of reporting management. In fact, in the 15 th century, famous Italian mathematician de Pacioli has spoken about the double-entry bookkeeping – a reporting structure that we now call ledgers. When you hear about data, you are bound to come across two terms – reporting, and analysis of data. A lot of people use them interchangeably as if they mean the same thing. But there is a lot of difference between these terms. The purpose for which they are done, the way in which they are presented, and their values differ significantly.


Reporting is simply presenting information after organizing it into logical data sets. Eg: Top 10 cities by Revenue, Top 5 cities by Products Sold


Analysis implies exploring deeper into the data collected, in order to come up with intelligent and meaningful insights that can improve business performance. In the above example of reporting, Top 10 cities by revenue is a very one-directional data. Analysis will also reveal whether those cities are profitable or not!

Significance of Reporting and Analysis

Reporting and Analysis are the cornerstones of business intelligence. Without daily, weekly, quarterly etc. reports, it is difficult to understand business trends and business performance. They provide a basis to analyze the direction in which the business is heading, and also provide which levers are guiding your business. If you want to change the performance, the reports and analysis will exactly let you know which factors can help you achieve that.

Examples of Reporting and Analysis

Reporting tools such as Adobe, Google Analytics etc. offer thousands of data points. Let’s understand the various outputs that are obtained in these reporting portals

  • Sales:
    • Reporting – Overall Month on Month Revenue report provides a monthly revenue figure
    • Analysis – Month on Month Revenue by Source and Channel tells you exactly which source/channel contributed how much
  • Marketing:
    • Reporting – Ad Spends by Channel report gives you which Advertising channel spent how much money to meet your marketing objectives
    • Analysis – ROAS by Channel gives you the Return on Ad Spends of each channel. A certain channel might have spent less, but got in much more revenue, and vice versa.

Value to Business

This case illustrates the benefit of reporting and analysis. A New Delhi based healthcare provider was worried about its poor Return on Ad Spends on digital platforms. While reporting showed the Top cities that were contributing to the revenue, it didn’t show the ROAS. Data analysis showed another list of 5 cities that had the best ROAS. Pushing the ad spends on those cities and cutting down on advertising in the other cities massively improved the ROAS from 1 to 2.5!