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.