BI User Adoption? Why Not?

Andrew Mennie News

Challenges of BI – Discussion 3 :



In the world of BI, there are key challenges that affect all projects; (1) data governance, (2) partner support and (3) user adoption. Looking at each in turn, this is third discussion paper looking at user adoption.

But I can’t see the benefit! 

How many companies have installed a CRM system only to find that no-one uses it?  And how many of us have been given training that insisted we log pipeline, map sales stages and set activities?  Most of us in the IT industry have been “forced” at some stage to use a piece of software that we don’t like, can’t use and are blind to the value.  We use it reluctantly, kicking, screaming and resisting all the way.  If it takes us longer to be trained than to see the benefits, it is always going to be an uphill struggle.  And BI projects are probably more susceptible to this than most, with their high touch across the organisation and their need for accuracy – it can be a challenge.

So what are the issues?

Gartner (1) describes lacklustre BI adoption, compared to the level of investment, as a result of BI historically being all about a point of record; from data in to data out supporting consistency, stability and accuracy rather than a more modern concept of rapid prototyping and agile manipulation to enable information exploration and all that entails.

In discussions with Ed Paice (2) who manages large mission critical ERP and BI projects on behalf of clients he endorsed the change in attitude and expectation of BI projects;

“From a design and implementation perspective one can go either way; highly formal where one needs to provide exactly what client wants.  Or at the opposite end of the spectrum, one can go agile.  Now, I wouldn’t recommend agile for all projects, but for BI increasingly to drive user adoption you need to be reactive, flexible, responsive and even intuitive.  You need to give users what they “might” want! 

 “So a customer says they want ABC and you give them ABC, but then they realise that they also want D and in most instances the scope creeps and you try to accommodate.  But if you give them AB and talk about C or D then they can choose and then decide that wouldn’t it be nice to have XYZ as well.  You can bet that their requirements will change as they see more of the art of the possible.  If you spend all your time and allotted budget designing architecting and implementing exactly what they wanted at the outset, it will be an unhappy project close.  Letting them take ownership of their own knowledge requirements creates buy-in in itself!”

Vendor responsibilities

Vendors of the newer BI solutions are taking on board the technological advances that bring this flexibility as well as some of the changes in sales and marketing tactics that are also affecting user adoption.

  • Ease of use – the single most significant blocker to adoption is ease of use and this more recently needs to be extended to include agility, flexibility and integration to multiple data sources coming in and multiple reporting tools going out.
  • Results driven adoption – using the “land and expand” technique of more modern SaaS based apps where Fremium leads to pilot and the up-sell to more users as they witness the benefits.
  • Business driven not IT driven – as decisions are taken across the organisation in the above land and expand scenario, so the marketing approach of vendors exploits this opportunity to gain a foothold and traction
  • Proof of concept is another similar tactic that lends itself well to modern SaaS solutions as they do not require an on premise server and IT support.
  • Software costs have also been driven down which was an earlier barrier to entry and this can be seen through the per user or even per concurrent user pricing models
  • People power – never underestimate the power of the old-fashioned personal interaction be that demonstrable in pre-sales, support or training.
  • Enablement – scoring highly in this area makes a huge difference to adoption. Everything from training, online tutorials, documentation, user forums and community sites. In an increasingly social world it is critical for many users to see an active and vibrant community that shares and helps itself.

The BI and analytics market continues to grow (Gartner 1), with new product innovations, greater agility and new GTM (go to market) tactics as well as a significant change in buying decisions.  Expectations have moved on and now extend beyond a “point of record” system to encompass the key elements of consistency, stability and accuracy but with the added drivers of flexibility and integration as key requirements.  The need for data governance also increases and with all these variables to consider the importance of the partners with whom you choose to work becomes more and more significant.

So we have come full circle in our discovery.

For users to be empowered and “trust in the numbers” you need strong data governance and process and to help properly evaluate the growing number of options you need to choose the right trusted advisor and value added reseller who will guide you through the complexities and if you get all that right the people who need it, will use it.

And more importantly feel the value.

PrecisionPoint – Where data becomes trusted insight

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  1. Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms; published 04 February 2016 | ID:G00275847 Analyst(s): Josh Parenteau, Rita L. Sallam, Cindi Howson, Joao Tapadinhas, Kurt Schlegel, Thomas W. Oestreich here
  2. Edward Paice – / / for LinkedIn