Tough love approach overcomes lagging BI adoption

To overcome lagging adoption in business intelligence (BI) implementations, treat users like troubled teenagers: in need of constant guidance.

Advising delegates at the Business Objects user conference last week to take a "tough love" approach with users, the company's strategic marketing director Timo Elliott said taking a "my way or the highway" attitude doesn't work.

"It will just get you fired; you need to guide users into the core value of the information," he said.

Outlining five fatal BI flaws, Elliott said slow user adoption is a common stalling point in BI projects.

Other fatal errors include treating the project as a one-off, lack of user training and alignment with business.

Another one is no understanding of the data or how to question it.

"The best and most successful business intelligence and IT projects I have seen have all used a tough love approach. You can make it easier by providing training on user terms, but [ultimately] they need to be held accountable for having done the training and should be forced to," he said, suggesting the creation of an in-house BI competency centre.

It is very important the business has a BI cycle and when a solution is deployed that there is a handover to the business. It is also important that a business person is made responsible for using that data which means some tasks would be done differently, Elliot said.

"At the end of a three- or six-month period [business] should then be required to approach their boss and say because the IT organization made this information available to me, this is what I am doing differently."

Beth Phillips, ING Insurance internal software specialist, said joint ownership of the project between business and IT is critical.

"Our finance department was responsible for developing the dashboard, but we bought in external consultants to analyze the data requirements and identify key performance indicators (KPI) to ensure it aligned with business needs," she said.

Australian Consolidated Press (ACP) relies on business intelligence tools to cut the business impact of returned, unsold magazines.

Before the year 2000 the return level was at 33 percent - a figure described by CEO John Alexander as costing the company at a rate of $1 million for every percent, but the main problem was that it took up to three months for the company to actually find out how many magazines had been returned.

BI manager Sam Mallett said the company has improved final sales return figures from three months to two days.

He said data from almost all business units (except the advertising department) now go straight into a BI data warehouse.

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