For many organizations, programming is the easy part. As report designer applications become more powerful and customizable, the process of simply creating high-performing development tools can be a fluid and pain-free one. Implementing those applications in enterprise environments becomes the challenge. Traditionally, most businesspeople had little to no interaction with analytics tools and data.

While data analysis was still a critical part of enterprise decision making, in practice it was left to a handful of professionals. Database and analysis tools could be designed for this informed, practiced group of company stakeholders. Now, the explosion of data analytics has led many companies to insist that all report designer tools are ones that untrained end users can wield effectively. This changes the business logic behind enterprise app development, and can lead to some growing pains. 

Data and analytics will affect all company cultures, argued SmartData Collective contributor Mark van Rijmenam. If these technologies have little or no impact on culture, it may be because the organization is not wielding it effectively. Disconnect between users and data is often the culprit - after all, if the information is present, and the user is looking at it, shouldn't results follow? In many cases, reporting applications are not on the end user's level. It's no party's fault - the rapidly changing paradigm wrought by the data-centric era is forcing a lot of stakeholders to reinterpret their own roles and reestablish analytical processes that work for them. Instead, collaborators can look upon a lack of a cultural shift as a challenge, since big data insights are likely lingering in the shadows.

A collaborative, revised approach to software development that incorporates feedback and objectives from more project stakeholders can lead to tools designed for wide use. This can further benefit overall productivity and communication, generating a positive impact on the bottom line. 

The software developer as navigator

In some sense, the report designer is affected by the same winds of change as those redefining the role of IT in the enterprise. Since the tools they procure, implement and manage are used more centrally in critical business processes, developers and IT serve in a more navigational role than they may previously have, wrote Data Informed contributor Joe Mullich. This is particularly true for cloud-based applications shared across channels or devices. They must be highly responsive and interoperable for the benefit of the whole while tailored for use on specific devices or browsers. It will be up to report designers to ensure that that compatibility and collaborative potential of data analysis tools match company cultures dedicated to drawing the most advanced insights from information.