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Thoughts of analytical bliss

Published 23.5.2018 by Markku Alikoski

The “Insight” analytics and reporting tool in Oracle’s Eloqua marketing automation system just got a major upgrade.

Paradoxically the reporting capabilities of all leading marketing automation systems has always been their least functional part. In most systems, reporting and analytics consist of some simple email campaign reporting tools with the added twist of elementary web metrics. At its best, this is satisfactory but far from ideal. That’s why we at ID BBN have been forced to build custom reporting solutions for our most demanding customers. In practice we’d simply dump all data through Application Programming Interfaces (API) into our custom databases and then build the reports programmaticallyexactly the way we want them.

The new Insight is about to change that.

The new Insight is based on Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition’s (OBIEE) newest version 11g. It's tailored to meet the highest demands of marketing and sales. OBIEE is a thoroughbred business intelligence tool with an extensive set of features that leaves nothing to be desired. This has its flipside though, because utilizing all this power requires a deep understanding of analytics and at least good, if not great, programming skills.

The new Insight has two sides: analyses and dashboards. Analyses are stand-alone reports that can function as building blocks for more complex dashboards. The system comes packed with hundreds of analyses, meaning you’ll never have to start from scratch. Because every analysis can contain one or several views (pages with combined graphics and data tables), creating fancy-looking, detailed reports is a snap.

The graphics capabilities are on par with Excel and there’s a plethora of visualization models to choose from. Currently there are 9 ready-made dashboards. Every quarterly upgrade so far has brought a handful of new analyses and at least one dashboard along with it.



There are two distinct user roles: reporting and analysis. A reporter can order automated reports to be delivered to their email. Reports can be rendered and delivered in HTML, CSV, plain text, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF file formats. For analysis, a user can modify existing and create new analyses and dashboards. In comparison to the old Insight, this is really possiblenot just in theory.

Data processing and combining data from multiple entities is easy, with pivoting and grouping being basic features. This is crucial, because Eloqua’s data model can contain many custom entities from any number of external systems. Familiar Excel-like mathematical functions are also included in the toolbox. Data filtering capabilities are top-notch too, because Insight can use Eloqua’s sophisticated, built-in segmenting tool as a filter. And a filter can at any time be converted into SQL, if one feels that thoughts are better expressed using a programming language.



Summa summarum: if the old Insight was best suited to rigid, operative after-the-fact reporting, the new Insight has capabilities reaching into the upper realms of business intelligence. For marketers, the situation couldn’t possibly be better: now they have the power to track complex causal chains like never before. And if we add some predictive machine learning methods to the mix, even peeking into the future may become possible.


Further reading: 

VIDEO and article: Insight in a nutshell

5 reasons automating some of your marketing will elevate your business

8 advice on delivering more value from marketing automation


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