Published on

January 3, 2024

Business Intelligence

Smart BI Reporting: Making Data-Driven Decisions

Unlock the power of data with smart BI reporting. Learn about its benefits, tools, and best practices to create reports and enhance decision-making
Giorgio Barilla
Digital Marketing Specialist
Business Intelligence

Simply relying on intuition and past experiences is no longer enough to stay ahead in the business landscape. Success now hinges on the ability to harness the wealth of data at our disposal, transforming it into actionable insights that drive strategic decisions. This is precisely where Business Intelligence (BI) reporting comes into play.

The concept of BI reporting has transcended its conventional boundaries, evolving into what we now refer to as "smart BI reporting”. This transformation has been driven by the need for organizations to not just collect data but to interpret it intelligently and make data-driven decisions that shape their future.

It's a paradigm shift that has become a critical factor for success in a world where information moves at lightning speed.

In this article, we will delve into the realm of smart BI reporting, exploring how it empowers organizations to unlock the full potential of their data. We’ll also introduce Akkio – a revolutionary enterprise Artificial Intelligence (AI) and advanced data analytics platform that's spearheading the transformation of how businesses interpret data. 

Let’s dive in!

What is smart BI reporting?

Smart BI reporting refers to the use of advanced business analytics, data visualization, and automation techniques to create more insightful, dynamic, and interactive reports and dashboards for decision-making within an organization. It combines traditional business intelligence with modern technologies and approaches to provide users with actionable insights in a more efficient and user-friendly manner.  

A smart BI reporting system is designed to manage and process vast amounts of unprocessed or raw data into actionable insights. This, in turn, helps organizations identify, develop, and create significant strategic business opportunities. 

Let's break down this concept further:

  • Handling raw data: Smart BI reporting systems are equipped to handle massive volumes of data, which can come from various sources such as sales transactions, customer interactions, social media, website traffic, and more. This data may be in its raw, unstructured form, making it challenging to extract meaningful information from it.
  • Data refinement: Smart BI reporting employs various data transformation techniques, including data cleaning, filtering, aggregation, and analysis, to turn this raw information into useful insights. The ultimate goal of this is to produce actionable insights pertaining to customer behavior, market trends, workflow efficiency, and more.
  • Strategic business opportunities: Armed with smart BI reporting insights, organizations can identify strategic business opportunities, including finding new market segments, optimizing supply chain operations, improving customer engagement, or launching new products or services that meet customer demands more effectively.

Benefits of using smart BI reporting tools

Advanced analytics

Smart BI reporting tools go beyond traditional analytics. They employ advanced techniques, such as predictive analytics and prescriptive analytics, offering businesses a deeper understanding of their data. 

With these tools, you aren't limited to knowing what happened in the past. You can also anticipate future trends and prescribe actions to achieve the best possible results. This wide array of insights facilitates effective strategic planning and informed decision-making.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The transformative role that artificial intelligence plays in smart BI reporting is pivotal and cannot be overstated. 

Machine Learning (ML) algorithms are designed to handle data that would typically overwhelm human analysts. They can quickly detect patterns in high-dimensional datasets and provide fresh hypotheses about data relationships. 

Companies leveraging AI and ML techniques derive nuanced insights from their data, giving them a competitive edge in their business sector.

Natural Language Processing (NLP) interface

Thanks to NLP, smart BI tools can simplify interactions with data. By asking questions in plain language, users can effortlessly draw insights from their data.

ChatGPT is a great example of the utilization of NLP because its ML model allows it to understand and generate human-like text based on the context provided. It can answer questions, generate creative content, assist with technical problems, and much more. This versatility showcases the power of NLP when applied at scale.


Smart BI reporting procedures offer a respite from tedious tasks by automating significant aspects of the reporting process. 

Automation includes data Extraction, Transformation, and Loading (ETL), report generation, and distribution. This efficiency saves time, reduces errors, and ensures reports are always kept up to date. 

However, it's important to regularly check these automated processes to ensure they aren't altering data in undesired ways.

Interactive and self-service

Designed with user-friendliness in mind, smart BI reporting tools allow non-technical users to create their own reports and dashboards. These self-service features empower users to independently explore data and gain insights, reducing the dependency on IT or data analysts.

Data visualization

Considered the crux of smart BI reporting, data visualization can revolutionize the way data is comprehended. Presenting data in visually appealing and easily understandable formats such as charts, graphs, and interactive dashboards enables users to quickly grasp key insights.

Real-time and near real-time reporting

Smart BI reporting platforms provide a game-changing solution for businesses with their real-time or near-real-time access to data. Fast access to data means companies can make data-driven decisions swiftly, keeping pace with the business's rapidly evolving demands.


Just as every business is unique, so are its data analysis needs. Smart BI tools recognize this fact and offer personalization features to suit individual requirements. Users can customize reports and dashboards according to their specific needs, catering to each department's distinct analysis requirements.

Data integration

Modern businesses rely on multiple data sources. Smart BI reporting platforms are capable of integrating data from a variety of origins, such as databases, spreadsheets, cloud services, and external APIs. This integration provides a holistic view of your business operations, facilitating informed decisions.

Embeddable reports

Departing from the traditional confinement of reports within distinct platforms, smart BI reporting systems have redefined this limitation. 

Embeddable or embedded reports can be seamlessly assimilated into external applications, websites, or portals. This feature allows organizations to share their data and insights with stakeholders, customers, or partners, avoiding the need for separate access to reporting platforms. Thus, the organization can share its analyses with external stakeholders effortlessly.

Reports vs. dashboards in smart BI reporting

Smart BI tools potentially serve a dual purpose – alongside creating detailed reports, these versatile platforms also broadcast live dashboards, operating as a real-time vehicle for data interpretation.

Both reports and dashboards bear considerable significance in smart BI reporting, each furnishing its attributes and functionalities. Although they diverge on several characteristics, they operate on a symbiotic level. 

Many BI tools primarily utilize dashboards for data exploration, with a snapshot of the dashboard forming the foundation for crafting a detailed report.

Let’s unpack this information further.


Reports are designed for in-depth analysis and focus on detailed data exploration. They grant users access to data at a granular level, enabling a thorough examination of individual data points, transactions, or records. Often enriched with text, charts, graphs, and tables, reports offer an exhaustive suite of data representation capabilities.

Reports are typically generated regularly or in response to specific information requests. While offering limited interactivity – like drill-downs or filtering – this feature pales in comparison to dashboards. 

Characterized by their detailed nature, reports require a significant level of human intervention that contrasts sharply with the mostly automatic processes associated with dashboards.

Dashboards: The overview experts

Designed for a broader audience, dashboards are particularly appealing to executives, managers, and frontline employees who require instant insights for decision-making. 

Dashboards serve as real-time or near real-time windows into key performance indicators (KPIs) and trends, enabling rapid insights. They encapsulate the essence of quick overviews of data and summaries, presenting them in an easy-to-understand manner through visually appealing formats such as charts, graphs, and widgets.

Dashboards offer a high-level impression of data, showcasing a condensed set of critical metrics and visualizations, which is invaluable for monitoring the overall performance. Their highly interactive nature permits users to drill down into data, apply filters, and interact with visualizations to facilitate quicker decision-making.

Additionally, given their real-time or near real-time updates, dashboards ensure users always have access to the latest information, keeping their finger on the pulse of ongoing operations and enabling timely spotting of issues or opportunities as they surface.

As you can see, both reports and dashboards play a vital role in smart BI reporting. Each features a unique take on introducing and interpreting business-critical data. While reports provide an in-depth explanation of data, dashboards offer a snapshot view of the overall performance. Together, they deliver a well-rounded, comprehensive view of business operations.

Introducing Akkio for smart BI reporting

Data must first be preprocessed and refined before it can be harnessed by organizations to extract valuable insights. For businesses, data refinement comes in the form of data analysis and interpretation, which can be a daunting process for non-tech experts. 

Akkio, an innovative generative BI platform, offers a solution! 

Equipped to leverage AI and ML, Akkio simplifies data analysis and provides real-time predictive insights that can be deployed into your business systems for making informed decisions. By being able to integrate seamlessly with your existing data sources, Akkio can help you create visually appealing dashboards, generate customized reports, and explore data with ease. 

Akkio also comes with an extremely user-friendly and versatile interface that caters to both non-technical and advanced users.

Explore your data in the dashboard

Akkio’s dynamic dashboard allows you to visualize and navigate data in real-time. 

Suppose you have sales data from different quarters. With a few simple clicks, you can assess sales performance, identify trends, and spot key performance drivers – all within the same intuitive space.

Akkio’s Chat Data Prep feature provides interactive data preprocessing capabilities as simple as typing ‘Change round any decimal numbers in the dataset’ or ‘Exclude data from years before 2010’, for example.

As soon as you type your desired actions, Akkio will automatically implement them for you!

Imagine having a conversation with your data and getting instant insights. With Akkio's interactive Chat Explore feature, this is a reality. Just ask a question such as ‘What's the sales trend over the past five quarters?’ and Akkio will provide you with a quick answer based on insights from your data.

A demo of Akkio’s Chat Explore feature.

With Akkio, you're always in sync with your data. Akkio also enables you to build a wide range of graphical representations, like live charts and reports, which dynamically update as your data evolves. 

The diversity of Akkio's visualization tools unravels data in an easily consumable form. This way, for instance, your business's sales data can be continuously monitored, providing you with real-time insights to pivot or persevere.

Akkio's generative reports in action

Best practices for business intelligence reporting

For optimal implementation and utilization of smart BI reporting tools, it's imperative to focus not only on the technology but also on the practices surrounding its use.

  • Promote data literacy in the workplace: Raising data literacy standards across all levels of your organization is a fundamental first step. This means supporting your workforce in mastering the concepts and implementation of smart BI reporting tools. Such an investment ensures that data-driven decision-making becomes an integral part of your organization's operations.
  • Define clear objectives: Avoid ambiguity by establishing clear, specific objectives for implementing smart BI reporting tools, bearing in mind that these objectives need to sync seamlessly with your overall business strategy. A well-aligned approach guarantees valuable insights, benefiting various departments.
  • Take data security seriously: Implement vigorous data security protocols such as role-based access control and data encryption to adhere to all relevant data privacy regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Health Insurance Probability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
  • Monitor processes: Keeping a vigilant eye on all processes is key in the world of BI reporting. This involves constant monitoring and evaluation of data sources, data quality, report performance, and user adoption. Use the monitoring data to optimize processes at different levels for better efficiency and accuracy.
  • Encourage data storytelling: Fostering a data storytelling culture within your organization provides an innovative approach to leveraging smart BI tools. This approach presents a more palatable understanding of data insights, turning hard facts into compelling narratives, thereby improving their accessibility and applicability.
  • Ensure data accuracy: Implement data validation processes and conduct data quality checks at different stages of the reporting pipeline. Swiftly address discrepancies to ensure continued trust in your BI reports. To facilitate this, Akkio offers built-in data transformation features, adding an extra layer of trustworthiness to your reports.

Throughout implementing these best practices, remember the saying, ‘Garbage in, garbage out’. This means that erroneous or inaccurate data used for BI reporting will yield skewed outputs, leading to incorrect decision-making. 

Consequently, implementing stringent strategies for data recording and curation is an absolute necessity to assure the accuracy and reliability of data-driven insights.

Improve your business decisions with Akkio

Comprehending and harvesting the benefits of today's data-rich landscape can be a daunting task. But with the strategic implementation of smart BI tools, it transforms into an engaging mission, helping you navigate the complexities and unlock the true potential of data.

These tools empower employees, facilitate data literacy, guarantee data accuracy, nurture data storytelling, and ultimately bolster your business. 

A shining example of this is Akkio's generative BI platform. Characterized by its intuitiveness, Akkio simplifies the creation of customizable dashboards and live reports. Imagine posing a question in your natural language and receiving an insightful response from your data – this is exactly what Akkio brings to the table.

Even better, the capabilities of Akkio don't stop at interactive chats with data. They extend to providing premier data visualization tools and more, offering a comprehensive BI solution.

Unlock your data-driven future with Akkio today and harness the powerful transformation it brings to your business – don't wait!

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