Make Business Intelligence a Necessity: How to Drive User Adoption

Business intelligence solutions are perhaps the most critical tools for companies focused on business modernization. Being able to understand and…

Business intelligence solutions are perhaps the most critical tools for companies focused on business modernization. Being able to understand and leverage the massive amounts of data that companies have access to on a daily basis is a prominent driver of digital transformation. Business intelligence platforms allow companies to not only understand their data but also build actionable insights based off the data for smarter, more impactful decision making that will progress company goals and initiatives.

This is not a revolutionary concept. Businesses have been putting a major emphasis on leveraging analytics for the past half-decade or so, but, despite the urgency placed on such strategy, user adoption for business intelligence tools remains very low.

According to G2 Crowd’s Spring 2018 Grid® Report for Business Intelligence Platforms, users insist that their companies have only a 51% user adoption rate for all products in the category. To give some context, according to G2 Crowd reviewers, CRM products are adopted at a rate of 77%, marketing automation tools are adopted at a rate of 71%, and accounting software is adopted at a rate of 79%.

Business intelligence platforms are used primarily by data professionals, while self-service business intelligence tools are meant for use by everyday business professionals. However, there is little difference in user adoption. Self-service business intelligence tools are adopted at a rate of just 54%, according to the Spring 2018 Self-Service Business Intelligence Grid® Report. Additionally, embedded business intelligence products are adopted at the exact same rate, 54%, despite being seemingly more convenient and available.

Why is Business Intelligence User Adoption So Low?

If utilizing data is such a priority for businesses and such a key part of digital transformation, one would imagine that there would be a great deal of urgency for employees to take advantage of business intelligence software. I am of the belief that there is a sense of urgency within most companies, but they do not know how to explain why.

Those at the top, Chief Information Officers, Chief Technology Officers, and Chief Data Officers can all tell you that their companies need to be using their data to build a smarter business, but that does not necessarily inspire employees to think that way.

This is especially true for those who have been in the workforce for many years and have never had to use a business intelligence tool to help inform them. Instead, they simply went about their jobs and continue to go about it the same way they always have.

Improving Data-Driven Mindsets

But companies can change this mindset. If businesses want to fully become data-driven, they should not just stress having analytics solutions, but they should help change the way their employees think about data. Here are a few different ways businesses can do just that:

1. Make business intelligence a necessity, not a luxury:

There was a period of time where understanding company data was an added benefit to normal work processes. However, in the age of digital transformation, it is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity, and employees should embrace this mindset.

The difference between business intelligence tools and other software, like CRM, marketing automation, and accounting tools, is that the employees who use them desperately need them to do their day-to-day tasks; they are an absolute necessity. Sales representatives practically live in their salesforce automation tools and accountants would be doing hours of unnecessary work without their software.

With the exception of data analysts or data scientists, most employees can get by without using a business intelligence platform. This needs to change to improve user adoption.

Employees should be required to dive into data before making any impactful decision Whether it be forecasting hiring numbers or adjusting a product’s pricing, business leaders need to require that there is substantial proof from data that these choices will positively change the business.

By requiring data-driven proof, business intelligence user adoption will naturally improve. Not only will more employees use the tools, but the business will ultimately benefit by making more business decisions based entirely on the data.

2. Promote business intelligence wins from the top down:

A powerful way to encourage the need for business intelligence adoption is to highlight success stories. It can make a strong impression on employees if company leaders call out projects that have made significant impacts on key performance indicators because they used business intelligence tools to help inform the project.

One way of doing this is to create an internal case study that explains exactly how a team went about using business intelligence to succeed in hitting their goals. This might seem excessive at first, but companies create case studies for marketing purposes all the time to prove how their business or product can benefit others. Why not take the time to build out a one-pager to prove how the business intelligence tool they use internally can help benefit their employees?

This can be especially impactful if the case study is presented from a manager or C-level employee. If employees can see relevant examples of how to use business intelligence software, adoption levels will inevitably increase.

3. Continuous training:

Business intelligence platforms are not one-track solutions; the possibilities presented by these tools are seemingly endless, which means that a single onboarding training is not enough. Administrators and power users should be tasked with pushing continuous training initiatives to really teach users how to take advantage of the software.

If employees have a deeper understanding of the tools they are much more likely to use them. Not only that, but if employees have an understanding of how to filter data, perform deeper drill downs, and manipulate the data to discover insights that they find useful, they can lean into becoming a data-driven organization.

Another major opportunity for continuous training is to leverage vendor resources. Many software vendors create FAQs and case studies to help users learn more about their tools. They also may offer webinars and video tutorials for more hands-on training. By requiring users to watch these videos and working them into their internal onboarding and training processes, companies can easily encourage and increase general user adoption.

Ultimately, all software tools are only useful if they are utilized to their full potential. Companies are so focused on modernization through digital transformation, in which analytics and business intelligence is a key factor, but they do not always take the necessary steps to ensure company-wide user adoption. With a few of these simple, but effective tips, business leaders can help increase some of those low rates of adoption and help make a meaningful impact on their business goals.

About the Author

Rob Light


Rob Light is a Research Principal at G2 Crowd focusing on Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things.

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