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Bust The Myths Of Self-Service Business Intelligence
Raj Polanki, US Head of Analytics & Data Science, Wacker Chemical Corporation
As we all know that the main goal of Self-Service Business Intelligence (SSBI) is to empower the business and avoid IT being the bottle neck to the speed for insights from data. If you think your organization is successfully mastered the SSBI and your business users are happily ever after, then this is not for you. I wonder how many would say that they reached peaks of SSBI.
Traditional mindset of “we build, and they come” won’t work with SSBI. Even with the incredible progress in current market BI leaders such as Tableau and Power BI, achieving successful SSBI adoption is not simple. There can be many pitfalls in the journey.
• In general, business users are busy with their day to day operations and their argument can be we don’t have time to learn the new tool. Even if they could allocate time for training, they may not be able to spend time to build dashboards for their regular usage scenarios.
•Even with the right level of interest from teams, if required Data sources are not integrated and accessible then users will lose their enthusiasm to build dashboards.
•Real enemy for the SSBI is the excel sheets and old habits. Typical mindset is, if it is not broken what is the need to fix as they are comfortable with their local copies of data in bunch of excel files.
There is no doubt that the SSBI applications like Tableau and Power BI have amazing visualization features, interactive graphs, relatively very ease of use and ability to corelate the data from multiple data sources. If properly used, they provide real value to business operations and insights driven decision making across the value chain, but how do we achieve that?Here is the plan I suggest -
Build Initial version of Dashboards Traditional approach is IT will showcase few example dashboards like sample retail store dashboards.
Even with the incredible progress in current market BI leaders such as Tableau and Power BI, achieving successful Self-Service Business Intelligence adoption is not simple
This works only some extent because they can’t relate the data to their day to day operations.
Lets say IT built a dashboard for Sales team and use that as an example to inspire procurement team to learn SSBI tool also won’t work. Same reason because they can’t relate to the data. The recommendation is IT must build some dashboards for each business team so they can easily start seeing the value. Here counter argument can be how IT can build dashboards for each team as it may demand lot of resources. Exactly this is where the next recommendation of Keep it simple -
Keep it Simple approach: Another common pitfall when IT is building some useful dashboard for the business users, teams tend to add a bunch of charts and figures in one dashboard and that may not give easy adoption to end users. Business users may perceive it as too much or too complicated and go back to traditional excel options.
That is why the initial dashboards should be simple ones with 2 to 4 charts focusing on key KPIs or in other words let the dashboard answer the top 2 questions of business users.
Train users with their data: Train the business userswith the simple dashboards built on the data which they can relate easily. When users walk out of the training, user scan see how they can start using the visualization right away and will be encouraged to try more.
Identify Power users: Not every user in business teamscan have same level of interest in learning and adapting to new tools. Some users may get very interested and they see the immediate value of the tool in their business activities. If they are encouraged with more training and support from leadership, they can be the power user in their teams, and they will become the champions to build more dashboards for more insights.
Celebrate wins across organization: When any business team achieves good results with data visualization using BI tools, then celebrate their wins. Make that successful story visible across the organization. This encourages other teams to reinvest their time in the tool to explore and build dashboards for their usage scenarios.
Measure the adoption: As saying goes “if it can’t be measured it can’t be managed”, make a practice of measuring individual business teams or functions adoption of SSBI in terms of how many dashboards they have, how many KPIs are visible and even how many users are accessing dashboards regularly. This kind of measurement helps to identify who needs more help and who can be shown as examples to others.
This approach can eventually lead to the successful adoption of SSBI. Along with the data visualization across multiple data sources, another most important advantage of SSBI is that all users get to see the same KPIs and so they all can speak the same language. This can truly improve speed to insight and data-driven decision making across multiple functions in an organization.