“There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant” Emerson
I’ve always loved this Emerson quote and these days it seems so utterly impossible. How can anyone remain ignorant in an age of 24/7 news, smart phones, never-ending messaging and feeds? But in fact, there is so much information flowing around you these days that remaining ignorant isn’t a matter of “a wish” so much as a forced necessity. There is literally so much information that finding out what you need to know can feel like an unachievable task.
So how do you cut through the information overload to what is important? The things that a wise man might not wish to be ignorant of? I recently spent some time working with a customer who has experienced a fraud – a fraud that has, unfortunately, cost them both money and time and brought the question of information to the forefront. We’ve spent time identifying what information might have helped to catch the fraud earlier, what alerts could have been sent that might have triggered an investigation, and basically everything that we can do to stop it happening again.
In this case, we’re looking at it retrospectively, closing the loop holes and the process gaps after the event rather than before. However; it’s made us think long and hard about the kind of exceptions that a wise man might wish to see, and about what format those should take.
When it comes to your business, information generally makes its way to you in the form of reports, but just because the data is in a report, or in your spreadsheet doesn’t make it useful. In fact, I’ve seen reports that are so immensely complex or so overwhelmingly full of information that I don’t believe more than one person in a company is capable of identifying what’s important in the report. Finding the things you need to know in such a report is self-defeating, instead, the report ends up unread of lost in your inbox or desktop.
What most of us want these days are actionable exception reports — reports that look for anomalies, outliers, strange blips that don’t look right. We don’t want massive reports that need to be printed or viewed on a large screen because you need to scroll for 2 minutes to find the final column in the spreadsheet! We want reports that pop up on our smart phones as messages, quick summaries that we can drill into if we need to, exception reports that tell us the data doesn’t look right… go check it out!
With Reporter, you can deliver actionable exception reports in formats that make sense. Whether you are looking for responsive dashboards that you can subscribe to on your cell phone, or exception reports that only run when the data fits specific criteria you can create the reporting environment that works for you. You can have your report as a spreadsheet, or perhaps you’d prefer it in the body of an email, sitting in your inbox for you to prioritize as you see fit. The point is to find the delivery method that suits your way of working.
There are indeed things that a wise man might wish to remain ignorant of, personally, I have absolutely no wish to know the latest from the Kardashians or that an asteroid may hit the planet in a few million years, I’m quite happy being ignorant of these things! However if one of my employees is about to do something that will cost me money or one of my assets is about to go out to a nuclear power plant when it has not been serviced correctly I’d like to know. And know now, not at the end of the month as one of 1000 lines in a 50-page report.
Written by: Helen Sowerby, Director of Business Development