Driving BI Adoption Through Subtle (and not-so-subtle) Persuasion
Long, long ago…in a galaxy not so far away…when the data people started talking about big data, they just KNEW that everyone would want the data, that everyone would use the data for analytics, and that anyone would jump at the chance to visualize data and trends in new and creative ways.
Then, the dark force of inertia grew from within the ranks and created a sort of apathetic anti-culture that regarded new tools as a sinister plan to CHANGE. Unsuccessful first forays into analytics undermined data’s advances and so an epic struggle began for the hearts and minds of the business.
Okay, maybe that’s over-reaching. We frequently see that insurers are actually very interested using BI tools. We do think, however, that there is still a culture to be won over and that creating BI converts is going to take more than just offering training on BI tools.
It is a bit of a mind game. It’s sort of like being a Jedi. We want to influence people in the right ways and have them make the decisions that they “should be making”…without letting on that we are doing anything to influence them at all. We have found six particular methods to be highly effective at driving BI adoption. Most of these methods share one simple trait: Usage.
Public usage of BI tools can be a real manipulative push toward change. In his classic book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Professor Robert Cialdini outlines common ways that people are influenced. In our case, we suggest you employ the influence he calls social proof. With social proof, use breeds use. Call it testing. Call it peer pressure. The goal is to encourage use, not by preaching use, but by visibly creating the illusion that organization-wide use is growing and that everyone should get on board.
Operationalize BI Tools
The first trick is to internalize the umbrella concept. Make a conscious effort to use the results of analytical tools in places where people will see them. Use them in meetings. Insert them into commonly-seen views of the business. The more that potential users see them in use, the more they will understand how their own power of influence can be enhanced if they are employing the tools themselves. Everyone wants to win in communication. Pictures of data speak clearly. NEW views on data will grab attention.
Put it on the Big Screen
You don’t have to be a stock trader to appreciate the value of real-time electronic visuals. Give your BI celebrity status by placing video screens in prominent locations (lobby, cafeteria, elevators, outside conference rooms, etc.), then use BI tools to generate compelling visuals. This is a dual motivational trick that is no different than the public chalk boards and white boards used in another era. The stats will make people informed and the informed will wonder how they can get more data. To add punch, create your data visuals from areas of the business where BI is under-utilized yet desperately needed. In other words, know your target market and set some goals to drive up BI utilization among those departments.
Show the Boss
For those data analysts who supply the C-level, well placed BI numbers will not only create a good impression, they will also improve utilization by leader adoption. Relevant BI has the ability to trickle up and down the organizational ladder, but it’s most effective when the executive begins finding its value.
Redesign the Info Hub
Most organizations’ intranets are a mixed bag of HR communications and generally-useful files placed into departmental buckets. Place BI information on the home page or on other pages with high visibility and traffic. Make the data “clickable” and interactive in some way and you’ll gain interest as people begin to drill down. Use a marketer’s trick by not giving up all of the information, and then create a call to action with For More Information buttons that will help connect interested users with one of your BI team members.
E-mail (internal) marketing
With this method you grow a little pushier. Push analytics out to relevant teams through e-mail. Develop distribution lists and manage an organization-wide campaign to grow interest. Everyone opens e-mail. Use it as the catalyst for BI adoption. The best part of this approach is the ability to target the tools, the data, the message and the method. Remember, however, your end goal is for users to learn and adopt BI tool usage, NOT to create groups of non-users who now require your assistance to gather and present their BI.
Utilize a Thoughtful (Methodical) Approach
No one sets out to do things the wrong way. But when developing a BI adoption plan, it will help to be thoughtful — questioning data, need, usage and implications. By thinking ahead and doing research on the front end (e.g., user surveys, business studies) you’ll find out just what BI is going to be the most effective in driving the business forward. You’ll become adept at obtaining the right data and the most useful metrics. Continually asking questions about why you are doing what you are doing will help keep you from wasting time and energy on BI tool development and BI initiatives that won’t provide a tremendous impact.
Even if you can’t utilize all of these BI adoption techniques, starting with just one or two will be informative. Keep a small journal of your efforts and the changes you witness in the organization and over time, you’ll be able to see how your own Jedi mind tricks have led to new worlds of BI opportunity.