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Why do users disengage from BI?

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Why do users disengage from BI?

Several months ago, your company launched an enterprise-wide business intelligence initiative. This included a new BI platform that promised to integrate with all your systems and databases, as well as be user friendly. At launch, there was tremendous enthusiasm for the initiative and the chosen BI platform.

Training sessions went well, and sales, finance, marketing and other departments eagerly anticipated the ability to dig into the data to track sales, improve customer margins and optimize marketing campaigns. They looked forward to developing their own dashboards to see data at a glance, and use the analytics to share progress with executives and make more intelligent business decisions. Your IT staff was excited about spending less time producing reports and empowering people from across the company with the ability to manipulate their own data and create reports when they needed.

At least, this was the expectation and the hope for your corporate BI initiative.

Things were running smoothly, but you start to notice some users requesting data sources that are not connected to the data warehouse, and additional customization orders to meet their specific needs. Sometimes, these requests take time, and users express frustration with the delays. You hear of others starting to repurpose the BI platform as a data resource, reverting back to Excel for data analysis. There are concerns that one department has started to replicate your BI team and are creating local data repositories that are not integrated with the main data warehouse. Even more worrisome is the idea that users may replace the corporate BI and analytics platform with their own cloud-based BI tools.

This is the process of disengagement from the corporate BI initiative. The process was analyzed and documented by Gartner in a 2015 white paper entitled, “Understanding Why Users Disengage from the Corporate BI initiative.”

There are four steps in the disengagement process – Request, Repurpose, Replicate and Replace – each creating more challenges for the BI team and progressively more disengagement from business users. The impact of the of the disengagement is described by Gartner as “Business Intelligence (BI) leaders’ failure to deliver expected benefits from investment means business users disengage from the corporate BI initiative to leverage BI and analytics on their own.”

Unlike the scenario above, diagnosing the situation, or to what level users have started to disengage, is not nearly as simple. Critical to the success of any major business initiative is establishing a good strategy and realistic expectations. In many cases, poorly defined expectations lead to frustrated users, and BI leaders will undoubtedly struggle to deliver the anticipated business benefits. When expectations are not met, users disengage.

So what can be done by IT when users begin to disengage?

1. Communicate

Spend time with end users to determine their concerns with the BI initiative and/or the platform. Find out what data they need and how they plan to use the information. If it hasn't been done already, establish expectations for the initiative so that you and your users are on the same page throughout the process.

2. Improve data quality

Good BI depends on the quality of the data, and a BI platform is only as smart as the data that feeds it. According to Gartner, “firms should establish a process or set of automated controls to identify data quality issues in incoming data and block low-quality data from entering the warehouse or BI platform.” IT should also “identify the data sources that are missing from the corporate data warehouse or that need customization to fill the user needs.”

3. Be responsive

Among the biggest complaints with BI initiatives is that it simply takes too long to get a response from IT regarding data models, reports or dashboard requests. To re-engage users, they must recognize a change in the approach to how requests are handled and the benefits of the initiative are real. This also speaks to the importance of communications and setting expectations.

4. Ongoing training

It’s important that the IT team have the capabilities and skillset to respond to the needs of the business users. If you can’t manage users’ requests, they will go elsewhere for the skills and expertise. As skilled users of the BI platform, you can support the varying needs of your users.

5. Fill the gaps

If the platform is not doing what the users need or expect, they will disengage, so it’s important that IT identify the gaps between the BI platform’s capabilities and what is needed/requested by users. This speaks to the importance of establishing the BI strategy with input from the business units, as well as communicating expectations early in the planning process.

The Phocas BI platform gives you the tools you need to develop complex data analytics solutions while delivering user-friendly solutions to engage your business users from sales, marketing, HR, supply chain, finance, and other areas across your business. While you take care of the data, and respond quickly to users’ requests, they can use Phocas to create flexible, powerful dashboards and enquiries.

Phocas also enhances the skillset of your team by elevating data to actionable information. Now, rather than spending your time creating reports, you can continue to build and evolve your IT and BI environment while your users manage and analyze the data on their own. Phocas gives users complete freedom to explore and display data, helping to identify questions, reveal answers and extract insights that will keep them engaged in your BI initiative.