You Have a Shiny, New Business Intelligence Tool. Now What?

By Strategy and BI Consultant Marc Schwarzbart

At the end of the day, what value does data hold if a company can’t easily access and action insights derived from it? And with the volume of data businesses track, analyze, and report increasing exponentially, manual processes and outdated legacy tools just aren’t cutting it anymore. Thankfully, there are some powerful Business Intelligence platforms out there that are keeping up with businesses’ evolving data analysis and reporting needs.

If your organization hasn’t yet explored any of these tools, I highly recommend doing your due diligence to see which software will enable the most valuable step-change in capabilities for your organization. On the other hand, if your company already has its paws on one of the latest and greatest BI platforms, you now have a powerful resource that can help your team quickly turn raw data into insights. That means you’ll be tracking metrics, identifying trends, and gaining a stronger grasp of what the future might hold, right? It’s possible, yes.

But first … your people.

It’s no secret humans have a challenging time adapting to change, especially anything they don’t fully understand or trust. The security and comfort of the familiar often slows the adoption of more efficient or otherwise improved solutions. No judgement here. Just imagine Apple or Android announcing they were replacing your favorite app with a “better” one with a completely different interface, but with assurances that you will love it once you get used to it. Even the most tech-minded among us might get utterly annoyed, if only briefly.

The fact is, the success of your Business Intelligence tool depends on it being adopted by the teams that capture, crunch, and disseminate data. Without consistent and correct usage, they may as well revert to an abacus (Okay, I’m being dramatic…but still).

To get your teams on board with – and excited about – a BI platform, act with empathy to unlock intelligence. Strong-arming the adoption of BI tools will almost never work. Instead, try to understand specifically why embracing this new technology is being met with resistance, so you can then help address and (hopefully) overcome any anxiety.

Here is some further guidance to help push adoption and get the results you’re looking for:

  1. Communicate intentionally
    • Ensure your organization is in the know about what’s new, what’s coming, and what will remain status quo.
    • Overcommunicate without overwhelming, deploying frequent yet concise and positive messaging.
    • Be transparent: Spotlight wins and acknowledge and share learnings from flops.
    • Respond to all feedback, even if it won’t be actioned on.
  1. Train relentlessly
    • Provide periodic group training sessions for new users.
    • Offer more tailored sessions whenever new dashboards are published or valuable features are added.
    • Include instructions and tutorials within dashboards to make using it easy for your team/s.
    • Create simple online guides and training videos, including answers to frequently asked questions.
    • Set up regular office hours so users can drop in for support from the Business Intelligence team without having to plan ahead to do it
  1. Measure and report thoughtfully
    • Inspect what you expect: Track and report usage statistics (so meta) to understand what is driving stronger vs. weaker adoption.
    • Track and report on benefits to your organization, e.g. number of reports that have been retired or rough estimated hours saved by eliminating manual processes.
    • Monitor the volume of inquiries when the system is not available as expected. The volume and intensity of reaction to downtime is directly corelated with how important you are to your customers; silence is deafening.
  1. Sunset assertively
    • Plan carefully and overcommunicate the timing of retiring any legacy reports.
    • Hold firm on sunset dates unless there are material reasons not to. This is not an excuse to strongarm the sunset. If your customers are screaming ‘stop’, be open to legitimate concerns.
    • Celebrate when legacy reports are retired!

Change is hard. Pushback will happen. Conflict might, too. But with a customer-first approach, plenty of communication, and flexible training options, your Business Intelligence platform will become a valuable asset to your team and business.