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5 Actionable Tips to Drive User Adoption for Business Intelligence


In this guest exclusive for WhichPLM, Acuvate Software shares their tips on how to drive user adoption of BI. Acuvate provides AI and predictive analytics solutions for consumer goods and retail businesses. Their mission is to produce intelligence applications that simplify processes.

In the past five years or so, most businesses have been majorly keen on employing analytics for better decision making, however, despite the intent and the urgency for this strategy, user adoption for business intelligence tools has remained quite low.

As per G2 Crowd’s Spring 2018 Grid Report for Business Intelligence Platforms, surveyed users reported that their firms have only about 51% user adoption rate for all such products in the category. To give you some background about this, according to G2 Crowd’s reviewers, Customer Relationship Management products have an adoption rate of about 77%, for marketing automation tools the adoption rate figure stands at 71%, and accounting software has the highest adoption rate of over 79%. These figures indicate a major scope for improvement in adoption rate of business intelligence tools.

BI platforms are typically used by data or IT literate professionals, whereas self-service business intelligence tools are meant for use by business managers or decision makers who may not have an IT background. Despite this bifurcation, there are a lot of similarities in user adoption patterns.

As per the the Spring 2018 Self-Service Business Intelligence Grid Report, user adoption rate for self-service BI tools stands at just 54% and the embedded business intelligence tools are also adopted at the exact same rate of 54%, despite the latter being more convenient and easier to adopt and use.

Given this occurrence, it becomes imperative to understand the causes for low adoption and perhaps work towards curbing the adoption challenges to drive user adoption upwards.

While companies and their leaders do understand the significance of data and digital transformation we think there is a lack of downward communication in that respect. This is definitely true of those who may have been in the professional world for several years but may have never had to use BI platforms to help fulfil their job functions and, even now, continue to approach their work the way they always have. This inattention to adoption is what we should be focusing on to drive user adoption of Business Intelligence Tools.

Strategies to Drive Adoption

1) Involve End Users

Not having access to a Business Intelligence tool may be causing higher time and money expense in several departments due to lack of valuable data and insights and lot of manual work to create those insights. Hence it is imperative to understand which internal departments are affected by this or are forced to take up time consuming pursuits to study data and gain actionable insights. Generally, these departments include operations / inventory / purchasing, sales, finance and management.

Hence, the department heads of these business functions can be approached and the important challenges to do with their job can be discussed, these can then be resolved by having discussions on how BI tools can be of help to them. Once the core management / departments heads are convinced of the need for this solution, they can use their influence to convince the rest of the end users / employees, which will drive adoption. Having sound knowledge of the problem that you are looking to solve can help you pick the right solution best suited for your needs and help build a business case for BI tools in your company.

2) Seek Executive Support

Having support from higher management is absolutely critical to deploying BI tools in a business and driving the user adoption upwards. How can this support from managers be garnered? By showcasing to them the high cost in business of not having a BI tool. These costs can be analysed by the amount of spreadsheets, stored data and other temporary solutions being used and the amount of time employees may be spending by manually performing some tasks that can easily be automated using Business Intelligence.

Case in point being the periodical sales report or market share report that may be needed by the marketing, sales and production teams to analyse trends in business. These can be automated by using the self-service reporting features in BI and hence the dependence on data and IT teams that prepare this report can be further reduced, which in turn helps with faster and better decision making – not only saving costs but also increasing revenue. Lastly, these costs can then help with the return on investment of deploying the BI tools in business. C-level executives typically care about growth in revenue and reduction in costs, hence demonstrating the significant enhancement of these components can help convince them of the utility of BI.

Giving a live demonstration to understand the product can also help win users over. After gaining approval for trying out the idea, you can include the managers in a demonstration so they can be privy to the tangible benefits of BI.

3) Provide Adequate Training

BI platforms are not for a single applicable solution; the utility that can be derived from a BI application are inherently versatile and endless. So, a single training session while onboarding new businesses is not enough. Managers and administration teams at a firm must be encouraged to push continual training initiatives to coach new users and instruct them how to make the most advantage of their software.

If end users or employees have more in depth knowledge of the BI tools, then there exists a higher likelihood of them using them, and adoption rates can rise. Apart from that, if employees possess knowledge and understanding on how to filter and dissect the data, perform deeper analyses and use the collected data to draw actionable insights, they may find the BI tools convenient and functional and this can lead to the business being a data driven organisation.

4) Advanced Visualizations

Advanced visualizations capabilities allow end users to gain access to Business Intelligence and Analytics data in a striking and convenient format. Advanced data visualizations offer novel ways to structure and view the collected data and its analysis, through visuals such as word clouds, geospatial heat maps, bubble charts and other infographic formats. Advanced visualization help users easily and swiftly consume data.

If used correctly, advanced visualization can help structure all data in a usable, more distinctive manner. Having the most optimally organised data and insights can help decision makers save time and take critical business decisions quickly.

5) Integrate Chatbots

Business Intelligence Chatbots facilitate a conversational interface, and eliminate the need for employees to switch between multiple BI apps for accessing data. Anytime a user may want to answer a pointed question, the AI-powered chatbot can pull up the relevant information or report within the messaging app. This allows for faster, and more seamless decision-making.

Besides that, the information provided by Artificial Intelligence enabled chatbots are not limited to a textual format. Using Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning capabilities, these chatbots can comprehend the intent of the user and output the data in the called-upon format, be it text, simple graphs, pie charts, heat maps etc.

The most important feature of a chatbot that makes it a true key driver of user adoption, is its ability to act as an virtual assistant for business users on the field or users who are looking to quickly access information swiftly.

Users don’t have to login to the BI system multiple times and can eliminate the hassle of drilling dashboards. This way business users can access data without much hassle. Chatbots can also be integrated with LOB systems and users can perform tasks like raising an order etc. which would not be possible with a sole integration with a BI system.

How are you driving user adoption for Business Intelligence in your organization?

Lydia Mageean Lydia Mageean has been part of the WhichPLM team for eight years now. She has a creative and media background, and is responsible for maintaining and updating our website content, liaising with advertisers, working on special projects like our PLM Project Pack, or our Annual Publications, and more.Joining mid-2013 as our Online Editor, she has since become WhichPLM’s Editor. In addition to taking on writing and interviewing responsibilities, Lydia has also become the primary point of contact for news, events, features and other aspects of our ever-growing online content library and tools.