Why You Need Analytics for your ShoreTel, Not Just Reporting

This post is around reporting for the ShoreTel VoIP phone system. But it could just as easily be around any source of data in your organization.

The real question being asked here is “What is the difference between reporting and analytics?”

It’s a hard question to wrap your head around because there is a lot of overlap between the two. The way I look at it, reporting is a subset of analytics. You can’t really have analytics without reporting, but analytics goes further than reporting. Both tools are designed to impart important information. Both are to help make decisions. But the propensity to assist in decision making is where I think the two separate.

Let’s look at a simple example of Abandoned Calls over the last quarter:

It’s not much of a report. And by itself it doesn’t tell much. There were 83 abandoned calls over the quarter. If you were really going to run this report you might have more information on it. Let’s put on the average time to abandon the call.

Ok, now we know there were 83 abandoned calls and the average time a caller waited before abandoning was one minute. It’s a simple report, but that’s what a report is.

A report brings to attention the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that you’ve decided are important for your business.

Data Analytics brings context to those reports. What if, on a one-off, we want to see how many of those calls abandoned after 30 seconds because we determine that if someone is going to hang up prior to that, there probably isn’t much we can do about it. We can put a live filter on the report and now we see that, of the 83 calls that were abandoned, only 29 of them waited more than 30 seconds, and those calls held for an average of two minutes, 34 seconds.

We’re starting to get into analytics now. Manipulating the data on the fly to assist in making business decisions. It, could be argued that if you thought this was important, that you could build your original report to show you that information. I’ll grant that, but you just don’t always know what’s going to be important at any given time.

You may not be able to do anything about the calls that hold under 30 seconds, but if you decide that it’s unacceptable for 29 calls to be abandoned after an average of 2:34 then you could staff up your call group appropriately. But what does that mean. When would I need to add staff to the group. Well lets look at what the busy hours of the day are.

Well, this doesn’t show us a lot. We seem to have a spike in the noon hour a little so that’s something to look at. But let’s see what the abandon calls look like for days of the week.

That’s much more interesting. We have three times as many calls abandoned on Mondays and the average hold times on Mondays are much higher as well. If I was going to look at adding staff to the workgroup to reduce abandoned calls, I would definitely look at doing it on Mondays.

All of this might be available in a reporting tool, but these would all be separate reports rather than just adding the ability to slice and dice the data anyway that you see fit. And another piece that is unique to an analytics tool is the ability to do things like drill down on the data to get a more detailed view. For example, I could drill down into those 14 Monday abandoned calls to see the detail around them.

From there, you can sort on any column to find additional patterns or even drill down into the detail of any one of those calls if needed. Definitely something you can’t do with a reporting tool.

In the past, analytics tools have been very expensive and so reporting tools were the norm. And There are definitely times when a reporting tool is all you’ll need. However, with the proliferation of inexpensive, powerful tools, there just no reason anymore to settle for reporting when you can have analytics.

I’d love to hear what you have to say about this. You can always reach me at jlewis@brightmetrics.com



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