Data’s Inferno:

How Data Teams Can Escape Report Factory Hell

Data’s Inferno:

How Data Teams Can Escape
Report Factory Hell

You deliver a requested report to a business colleague, but they aren’t happy. They claim you didn’t effectively fill their request, or they have follow-up questions.

Before you know it, you’ve spent hours generating low-level, ad-hoc reports in attempt to give them the answers they need. This is report factory hell, and it’s a terrible place to be.

But don’t lose hope. You can escape. Allow us to show you how.

The Big Bang


Over the last decade, the amount of data that is created, consumed, and stored has exploded. This exponential growth has been fueled by wearables, IoT, social media, and mobile phones. Just take a look at what’s created in just one internet minute!


This is what happens 
in an internet minute

All of this data is a potential treasure trove for companies that are able to use it effectively. Combing through structured, unstructured, and semi-structured data, leading companies are hoping to find patterns, identify emerging trends, and extract insights that aren’t obvious from the surface — insights that will drive better decision-making and give them an edge over the competition. They’re employing data engineers, data scientists, and data analysts in record numbers to carry out these initiatives.

But despite the mountains of data at their fingertips, and armies of data experts at their disposal, most organizations are not enjoying data bliss. In fact, most data teams have descended into the depths of report factory hell.

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The Six Circles of Report Factory Hell

Far from basking in a utopia of data-fueled insights, data teams find themselves bombarded with competing requests, working through a never-ending queue of low-level ad-hoc reports. This renders them unable to tackle the high-value data projects that move the needle and provide the job satisfaction they’re seeking.

The descent usually follows this predictable pattern:


As the amount of data grows, the number of requests for reports, dashboards, and answers grows along with it. The needs of the many rely on the expertise of a few, resulting in a broken and bottlenecked process. And because these requests come from a variety of departments, there’s no real way to prioritize them — leaving everyone on the data team scrambling to complete dozens of “urgent” requests.


In today’s on-demand world, companies need to move lightning fast, and course-correct in real time to compete. The confidence that data-driven decision making can provide is appealing to business leaders across the organization. In every team and department, people need to be able to ask questions, get answers, and keep iterating to gain insights.

But this puts incredible strain on the data team. A sharp divide exists between those who speak the “language of data” and non-technical domain experts. Instead of investing in education, promoting data literacy, and laying the foundation for collaboration between these two camps, companies throw bodies and technology at the problem, setting everyone up for failure.

Want to keep reading?

Learn how Sigma can help you escape report factory hell.