With every release, the report builder team strives to bring more features and value to analyst and marketing workflows in excel. This time, we introduced two major new features with the latest version: Anomaly Detection and Real-time reporting. On top of all this, the scheduling workflow is improving with proactive notifications to the sender when a scheduled workbook fails to deliver.

Anomaly Detection

This release marks the first phase of a long-term plan for developing predictive analytics, and report builder is surfacing these features for you to leverage in excel. Right now, anomaly detection metrics are only available on trended reports with a daily granularity, and regardless of the date range specified, report builder will use the previous thirty days of data as a training period to establish the expected range of values for the specified metric(s). This range is set to a 95% confidence interval in order to highlight only the more uncommon anomalies. To add these metrics to your request, simply access the “Anomaly Detection” context menu from the “None” link on your added metrics in the Request Wizard.

UI screenshot for anomaly dection

Inserting anomaly detection metrics in a report builder request.

Augmenting data sets with Analytics-powered anomaly detection will significantly improve your analysis capabilities. Excel-based dashboards and report visuals can now incorporate confidence bands with minor calculations and a formatted stacked-area chart, surfacing these additional insights to your report consumers.

Excel anomaly detection visualization

Visualize anomalies within excel charts.

Furthermore, while expected ranges presented in the web interface are static, report builder and excel formulas allow manipulation of these bands according to business needs in dealing with false positives or negatives. You can only find this level of granular control over anomaly detection in report builder. Accessing the raw data points also allows you to surface data points not available through the web reports today, such as exact percentage deviation from expected values.

Real-time Reporting

Last May, the report builder team introduced Current data capabilities for all requests sent in excel. This allowed users to create scheduled workbooks and analysis requests that took unsegmented and unfinalized data into consideration. This is particularly useful in hourly workbooks and for those analysts that rely on previous hour data to make decisions. However, there are times when you may need even more granular reporting that Current data cannot satisfy. For content publishers and news outlets, this can involve promoting a breaking news story on the homepage within fifteen minutes after it goes viral to leverage the fast-moving trend. In the retail vertical, critical online shopping days such as Cyber Monday or Valentine’s need to rely on minute-level real time data to evaluate campaign or promotion effectiveness. In such circumstances, every second counts.

While reporting and analytics offers an excellent web-based interface and dashboard for consuming real time data, there are specific cases where that view could limit your analysis capabilities. Report builder breaks through many of these limitations by offering full access to the Real-time data available from the web and Reporting API. After configuring your Real-time reports from the Admin Console online, the new report options will automatically appear in the request wizard.

Real-time request wizard UI

Accessing Real-time reports from the report builder request wizard

Leveraging Real-time in excel workbooks grants analysts and marketers access to new views of the data, including but not limited to some of these use cases:

  • Combining real time data with other data sources, such as social trends or incoming purchases
  • Comparing and aggregating real time data from multiple report suites simultaneously
  • Presenting a unified visualization of real time data compared to various past date ranges (i.e. hour-over-hour or current hour today versus the same hour last week)
  • Generating minute-level hourly dashboards or reports that can be delivered regularly to relevant stakeholders
  • Creating your own self-updating real time dashboard via report builder’s support for macros (i.e. using the¬†Application.OnTime function)

Future blog posts will dive into some of these use cases in greater detail, but you can start leveraging these value-generating features today.

One More Thing

Also with this release, the report builder team upgraded the scheduling server in order to deliver proactive notifications when a scheduled workbook fails. These notifications will be sent to the user that scheduled the workbook when the server-side refresh fails for the first time and again if the scheduled workbook fails after three attempts. At that point, the scheduled workbook moves into a deactivated state; however, the notification e-mail will include diagnostic information and potential troubleshooting steps to help users understand when and why the refresh failed. These detailed messages will greatly improve the time to resolution for any scheduled workbook problem as it arises.

Here’s the bottom line, though: Report builder brings the power of Adobe Analytics into a powerful analysis environment. With these two new features and enhanced delivery mechanisms, you can take your excel dashboards and reports to the next level of insight.

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