As the Global BI adoption rate has reached 26%, which means out of 100 employees in an organization, at least 26 would be using BI tools, it is important for us to understand the role of stakeholders in a typical BI adoption journey.
Business Intelligence (BI) is a complex journey that begins with a BI vision aligned with long-term business goals and objectives. Careful planning, close monitoring and flawless execution targeted at successful BI implementation take a significant share of the limelight in this process.
However, what is often overlooked in this BI adoption journey is – stakeholder involvement. Business Intelligence is only half served if there is apprehension amongst the stakeholders about the change it brings about. Therefore, driving change or better known as change management is amongst the key success metrics in BI lifecycle for any organization.
In the process of BI adoption, the real success comes from an active involvement of users across the chain of command. The user involvement can be enabled if they are engaged right from the beginning of the process and are well apprised of the positive impact of BI in their day-to-day decision making. This engagement enhances BI adoption amongst stakeholders by many folds. Organizations can improve BI adoption by stakeholders with a few tips listed below:
Organization culture flows from top to bottom. If top-line executives believe in and demonstrate data driven culture, the organization from ground-up will communicate in the same language. Setting an expectation across the organization for everyday business decisions to be driven by data, leads to building a strong data culture. Also, potential ROI associated with the BI investment makes top-line executives as keen promotors of the change.
Assigning an executive sponsor who believes in the power of BI drives the BI adoption faster. Stakeholders at ground level will care about adopting a new technology only when their supervisors educate them about the need of this change and why it matters. However, the supervisors will drive the change only when they themselves see the initiative aligned to their teams’ KPIs, being able to get insights from BI to address business challenges they have been facing in their day-to-day operations.
Stakeholders must be clearly communicated how BI adoption can help achieving the business goals and objectives. Stakeholders can also be incentivized for adopting data driven problem solving and decision making, promoting the adoption of BI within the organization, considering the sensitivity of change and possible hesitancy from users. How the BI initiative will be measured, tracked and rewarded helps in stakeholder buy-in as they feel motivated to adopt it for achieving their day-to-day goals. Sharing a roll out plan, reports on the progress, apprising them of the business challenges and achievement of goals with the help of BI, promotes a feeling of ownership among the employees.
While larger business goals are crucial, employees are primarily interested in knowing “What’s in it for me?” To get stakeholder buy-in, it is important to communicate how the change will contribute to achieving their specific KPIs. Everyone should know how this change will help in their work. Providing users with how the change has specific alignment to their job efforts allows them to invest their time in understanding the new technology. Transparency goes a long way. Candidly communicating the short-term pain versus the long-term gain makes the users focus on a bigger picture.
On one end change management begins with ensuring everyone understands the business-driven outcome aligned with the BI initiative but on the other end it is complete only when it is adopted as a daily practice. One way to ease out the change is if the stakeholders impacted by the change are imparted proper training to improve their technical knowledge and practical experience with the BI tool before being expected to produce results. Using appropriate and periodic training strategy and allocating adequate resources to upskill the users significantly improves stakeholders’ learning and adoption graph.
Stakeholders can meet the expectation of making data driven decisions only when end-to-end data sources are integrated with the BI tool. Removing barriers to fully leveraging the data contained originally in silos, allows the BI platform to integrate and transform data into actionable insights. Only then BI will present a true health of the business and stakeholders will consider it as a ‘single source of truth’.
The chances of BI adoption by stakeholders increases many-fold if the platform being implemented has ease of use even for those who do not have experience of working with data or are not technically savvy. Self-service BI tool makes every user master of his or her own dashboards.
Users can customize the dashboards as per their ad hoc business requirements, minimizing dependency on IT and long waiting periods for results. Also, data is updated into self-service BI platforms in near real time removing the possibility of missing out on important details that might impact insights while making decisions.
Convenience, transparency, faster turnaround and more informed decision-making capability makes for a good case for stakeholders to lean towards Business Intelligence as a strategic business tool.