Creating engagement in your analytics project – 3 things you can do today

Posted in: Business Insights

We all know the feeling: the new software is finally rolled out after months, or sometimes years, of hard work by your team. Then, instead of the sound of users calling to share how much the new software improved their lives, all we hear is crickets.

Bringing data together and enabling self-service analytics is no different. Make no mistake, it’s a massive project and its success depends on adoption. But we all know that as a rule people don’t like change.

How to encourage adoption of self-service analytics was a big topic of conversation at the leadership track of TDWI’s Analytics Leadership Summit in Orlando last week.

A few ideas or best practices stuck out for me, among them:

  1.     Run an AnalyticAthon
  2.     Let them decide what tool they want to use
  3.     Don’t forget about Evangelitics ™

Run an AnalyticAthon

An AnalyticAthon (a word made up by the group I worked with) was an idea put forward by Mark Hopkins, CIO of Skullcandy and we all loved it and modified it a bit. It goes like this – there are always early adopters in every community. These are the people who take the time and initiative to learn something new without being asked. An analytics competition matches those interested in analytics with a business user who wants data-driven insights. The teams work together to produce analytics outputs — usually dashboards to start — then present their work to a “Shark Tank” like set of judges. The winner gets a prize – Skullcandy gave out $500 to the winner. But the real winner is the company. One of our biggest challenges is finding talent, and this contest is a way of identifying those who could become catalysts for using data, a form of grassroots recruitment. We all agreed we’ll take this one back to our respective companies and try it out and hopefully connect up in a few months to compare notes.


Continuing on the theme of encouraging self-service analytics across the company, it became clear to all of us that eliminating barriers and reducing the amount of change required was a key component of analytics adoption. The idea of “bring your own analytics” has been one of my mantras and I could see others aligning around it during the conference. Increasingly people are joining our organizations with experience using different analytics and visualization tools. Instead of forcing them to switch, why not enable the maximum number of tools as part of your data strategy? This means experienced users can choose their tools, dip into the data lake and start producing results faster – and isn’t that what we all want?  BYODevice worked, why wouldn’t BYOAnalytics?

Evangelitics ™

Trademarked by Disney (yes I was envious!), this term encapsulates a critical best practice – and that is the importance of marketing the outcomes that were realized by data. Changing a culture is never easy, and going from a traditional reporting model to one driven by analytics is a major change even in small companies. We all talk about the importance of using data to tell a story, but we have to make a conscious decision to tell those stories widely – the more stories that circulate the more people, even the skeptics, will begin to be convinced. The act of sharing these stories is Evangelitics. I love this!

So in conclusion, adoption of analytics does rely heavily on technology, but technology without user adoption won’t deliver the business impacts we are all counting on. We’re all reminded to spend as much time on the softer side of our analytics projects if we want to reap the rewards.


About the Author

Lynda Partner is a self-professed data addict who understands how transformational data can be for organizations. In her role as EVP of Data and Analytics, Lynda focuses on Pythian’s services that help customers harness the power of data and analytics and holistically manage their data estate.

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