Einstein Analytics vs. Operational Reporting – what is the difference?

The past few months I’ve been wondering if it’s time to upgrade my MacBook Air from 2010 and I’m leaning towards a “yes”. So in the holiday break, I’ve been trying to organize and backup my documents and pictures. In the process, I found some training material from my very first Einstein Analytics (back then Wave) training in Paris June 2015. I remember back then discussing with my fellow students the difference between Einstein Analytics and Salesforce standard reports and dashboards. Back then I remember thinking you couldn’t avoid leveraging JSON and SAQL to get to the power of the tool. I also remember thinking that for the regular admin (many of my customers) they wouldn’t be able to utilize the platform fully without a developer to help them out. And finally, I was of the opinion that standard Salesforce reports were more powerful from a UI perspective, meaning the user could set conditional highlighting, create bucket and formula fields, do joined reports etc. all directly from the report builder. Einstein Analytics were lacking some back then… Now, this is not supposed to be about products as they were 2,5 years ago. Rather I started thinking during my organizing process maybe it would be good with a comparison blog between Einstein Analytics and Salesforce reporting (let’s call it operational reporting), now that Einstein Analytics have matured quite a bit.

Objective of the tools

Before going into the features of the tools, it is important to understand the use case of each tool and to some extent how they work.

Einstein Analytics

Use Einstein Analytics for strategic dashboards you want to drill into. It’s a fast way to show data and you can slice and dice the data on the spot, so the tool is ideal if you have questions to the data and what to explore further to find the answers. You can even interact with the data behind the dashboard using actions and bulk actions. Only users with a feature license can see these dashboards.

Operational Reporting

Use operational reporting for generating lists of data, preferably data or questions that don’t change too often. Dashboards are based on your reports and show a snapshot of data at the runtime. Everybody has access to reports and it’s easy to export your reports.

How do they compare

It will sometimes be like comparing apples and pears but nonetheless, let’s try to do a comparison of the different components of the tool.

Features in the tools

Okay, so let’s look at some of the features. Of course it’s hard to include every single feature, however, I am aiming for an overview of key elements most admins would expect in a reporting tool.

* Not available in the UI, but possible in other ways.

What to remember

To use operational reporting or Einstein Analytics comes down to the use case. Operational reporting is just that for operational purposes where data is rather static. Einstein Analytics is used for strategic purposes where data is more complex hence it’s more for the advanced cases. While the operational reporting is limited it is all available in the UI – clicks not code –  where Einstein Analytics allows for both. Some features in Einstein Analytics are (at this point in time) not available in the UI, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible, it just means it probably takes a few more skills to get it set up.

I am happy to hear your view if any key features are missing from the list – comment below and I’ll try to include it in the overview.


2 thoughts on “Einstein Analytics vs. Operational Reporting – what is the difference?”

  • 1
    Simon on January 9, 2018 Reply

    Nice article! But note that with Salesforce Lightning Connect OData you can report on external data sources in your operational reports. It requires a separate license and has some known limitations but it works well.

    • 2
      Rikke on January 13, 2018 Reply

      Thanks for the feedback, I’ve added it to the comparison!

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