Turning Information Into Insights With Apptio Self-Service Reporting

No one ever complains about not having enough data. The challenge is always how to organize and view it in a way that matters to you and helps you make better business decisions faster. Since releasing our Self-Service Reporting (SSR) capabilities a year ago, we have been extremely busy continuing to innovate on the technology and thought the anniversary was the right time to recap all these innovations for you.

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Figure 1: Configure visual & tabular views of data, add multiple visualizations for data storytelling.

We’ll break down the summary into three primary areas – data sources, visualizations, and collaboration. So let’s dive-in and learn how all these updates can actually deliver more insights, not just data.

Accessing the right data to tell your story

We launched SSR a year ago with the goal to make it easy for end users to create on-demand, personalized views of their IT financial data. This required access to the right data.

During the last six months, we added the data sources from other Apptio products including IT Planning, Vendor Insights, and most out-of-the-box master data sets for Cost Transparency. Most recently, Apptio extended SSR to Cloudability SaaS replacing the custom report builder functionality available to Cloudability SaaS customers. With this upgrade, any Cloudability SaaS user can now create custom reports and visualizations.

Soon, we will integrate with Cloudability. This marks a significant step in providing our customers a holistic view of their IT financial data. The ability to view Cloudability and Apptio data together enables far faster decisions for cloud spend license management.

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Figure 2: Take advantage of having access to different data sources to visualize your IT financial data.

We also recently released Data Source Management to give administrators incremental fidelity in how they make datasets available to their end-users. Admins now have the ability to turn on and off visibility to certain datasets with the click of a button. This can remove irrelevant data, such as a sandbox environment or to give end users a better, more streamlined experience.

Exciting new ways to visualize data

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then all the new visualizations we’ve made available could fill a novel! You can now tell your story with more precision using a variety of chart types such as bars, columns, pie, stacked bar/column or line charts.

You can also simply lay out the information in a table form with flexibility on column and row-level detail. The formatting of each of these charts can easily be customized through a variety of options including controlling the scale (axis) or the values displayed, and much more.

It is all about giving you flexibility to create a more visually appealing report to quickly convey information to your audience.

Tell the story faster with layers

SSR now allows layering of multiple charts to add more fidelity and information to your visualizations. Users can layer any combination of bar, column, line, or area chart to compare related dimensions or metrics. An example of the usefulness of this new functionality would be comparing budget to actuals.

Each chart can also pull data from a different data source meaning you can compare data across products in a much more comprehensive way. For example, you can now compare actuals from Cost Transparency to budgets to analyze variance to plan and identify any outliers for further analysis.

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Figure 3: Use layers to visually highlight the differences between different cost sources.

You define the drill down

Understanding the root cause of an issue is key to knowing how to move forward. To support this root-cause analysis, we added the ability to drill through tables to get increasingly granular views of the data. Simply create a table and within the Options panel and add a Drill. Users can define what fields the drill applies to as well as an initial table to drill to and the drill mode. Once the drill is available, users simply select the data point they want to drill into, and a new table pop-up will appear with the incremental level of detail. To help report creators tailor this drill-through experience for their viewers, tables can now support fixed or exploration mode to provide this extra detail.

  • Fixed mode: Specify the incremental detail that will be revealed as the user drills through the table
  • Exploration mode: Grant end-users an interactive report experience. In exploration mode, users can choose which fields are used to provide the incremental drill-through detail
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Figure 4: Exploration Mode grants users an interactive reporting experience.

Enhanced Sharing and Collaboration

Finally, SSR makes it easy to share and collaborate on the reports you create. Early releases of SSR gave you the option to either keep reports private or to share them with the entire organization. These options have now been refined with the ability to share with individuals or to roles (a group of users with the same access permissions).

Each time your creators share reports using this new functionality, an email notification will be sent to the tagged end user allowing for easier collaboration. Subscriptions are also available now, allowing users to subscribe to reports making engagement easier for extended project teams. With this upgraded ability to send, notify, and collaborate with our team, reports can easily become part of your regular workflow with minimal effort.

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Figure 5: Leverage subscriptions for easy and contextual collaboration.

Once users have access to reports they can engage in an on-going conversation with the Comments & Collaboration functionality. Any user can easily add a comment to a report, including an @mention notification for another user. This person will receive an email notification and link connecting them directly back into the report to review and respond to the comment. This functionality allows for faster resolution to questions because there is no requirement to export information (through Excel or a screenshot, for example) and the collaboration always remains in the application with the associated data.

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Figure 6: Engage in an on-going conversation with the Comments & Collaboration functionality.

The future is bright for Self-Service Reporting

As you can tell, we’re really excited about the value Self-Service Reporting is bringing to our customers. Through the balance of 2021, you will see investments in areas such as the availability of increment data sources, new visualization options, and more customization options to control the look and feel of the reports. Later this year we’ll also start sharing templates based on our out-of-the-box reports and insights for customers to leverage. We have a lot more coming up in 2021 so stay tuned!

Current customers can always learn more through the Help Center (linked) or by contacting their Customer Success Manager. Everyone can get started learning more about Self-Service Reporting on our website.

What story will your data tell today?

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