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How to drive BI user adoption and deepen insights

How to drive BI user adoption and deepen insights


Businesses invest heavily in their software resources to improve efficiency, save costs and create additional value. And execs expect to get a good return on this investment. 


With BI software, the ROI can be severely limited by two key resources, the users and the platform itself. Users that don’t know how to use the software or don’t see the value in using it can hinder the adoption of BI tools.  And, if the platform itself is not accessible for this broad, often uncatered to, user base, adoption will be far from optimum. 


But it is possible to yield value from both these vital components, the BI software and the programme users. The right solution should accelerate the adoption of BI and generate valuable insights that extend beyond the data engineering team. 


What is the state of BI adoption?


In the past few years, BI adoption has lingered at about 30% in the majority of enterprises, according to Gartner. Such low user-adoption rates don’t portend a beneficial outcome for a business’ ROI. And the resulting lack of data-driven decision making can lead to ineffective operations and even leave the enterprise lagging in the market. 


Currently, the adoption rate of BI platforms is similar to embedded solutions. Both sit at around 54%. Embedded analytics is the integration of BI tools into business software like ERP or financial systems, and includes data visualisation and self-service analytics. 



Adoption levels are noticeably higher in departments that utilise embedded analytics, like operations, high-level management, finance and sales. And the reason these departments are leading BI adoption – they have to use data in their everyday roles and do so with ease thanks to the nature of embedded analytics. 


But, what about business data users that are not exposed to data as readily? 


Why are data users not using BI software? 


Many workers don’t see the value of data. They consider data something that data scientists and analysts work with. Many have not worked with data or data analytics platforms in the past. And they’ve managed to get their job done fine. Why should they change how they work and start using data now? According to The Data Literacy Project, 48% of the workforce would rather trust their gut than data-driven insights. 


We also know that people can be averse to change. And data users are people after all. They would prefer to learn how to use a software tool once, and stick with that same tool till the end of days. And those end of days will come if these users and businesses don’t keep up to date with BI technology. 


Another barrier to user adoption is the lack of a common goal. When it comes to your company’s data, a shared purpose is vital. Without a sense of purpose, they’re less likely to feel a sense of ownership or develop a greater curiosity about data.

When data users personally experience the value of using data and the ease of getting the answers they need, they will engage more with BI tools. 


CNHi leverages QIik + Vizlib to boost data analytics culture


CNHi, a leading global manufacturer, had great success accelerating the adoption of data analytics and fostering a culture of data democracy. 


They needed to speed up the time from insights to action for all their data users. With the help of Qlik and Vizlib, the company increased the number of empowered data users by over 350% over a period of one year! 


For CNHi, customisation was the essential factor for their analytics roadmap. And Vizlib provided easy-to-use visualisation capabilities for Qlik Sense that required no coding experience. The ability to customise every chart just the way they wanted it empowered users to develop compelling, branded dashboards and use data confidently. 


Discover more in our customer success blog on boosting business value through data democracy

Tips for tuning into the end user’s point of view


When managing user-related factors in development, naturally, it’s crucial to understand their point of view. Here are a few tips to help you tune in:


  • Focus the data model on the end-user and the questions they’ll ask rather than SQL-based.
  • Reduce the number of choices and make the choices simpler for them.
  • Don’t overload users with too much data. Introduce it incrementally. The platform should have good UX and not be one big overwhelming data dump. 
  • Be transparent and work with users to improve the software. And communicate to them about fixes. It’ll help to build their trust and confidence to explore the platform more in-depth.
  • Understand the user’s learning capacity and knowledge level. Learning a new programme usually means learning a new way of thinking too. They may find it frustrating, as not everyone is analytical in their thinking. 


BI software is often used by people with varying technical skill levels. On the one end of the scale, you have a business user, usually with the lowest technical capacity, and on the other end, a data engineer, able to analyse data and draw insights independently. 



To improve user adoption, your solutions need to cater to a vast array of skills as well as balance technological challenges, like integration issues.


How does the wrong BI solution limit user adoption? 


BI tools should simplify and streamline the process of getting insights from data. Yet, when software is dated, for instance, like the legacy solutions still in use in many businesses, it can create a barrier for users. 


Legacy solutions often don’t integrate with other data management tools, like 3rd party CRM databases. This leaves data in silos and can even result in users having to manually import data. The result for the business is time wasted and inaccurate, unusable data which doesn’t produce valuable insights. 


Overly complex BI software that is not user-friendly can also hinder data users from exploring further or using data in their daily tasks. If it doesn’t have an intuitive design, user adoption may be limited to those with a good understanding of data analytics.


Tips for choosing a BI tool that will add value


Here are a few points to consider for selecting the right BI tool, one that will deepen insights and create real value:


  • Your chosen BI tool must integrate with legacy and 3rd party databases to deliver the highest ROI. And it should also integrate with enterprise-wide data from CRM and ERP systems. 
  • It should be highly customisable. The ability to customise BI dashboards and reports, and create advanced dataviz is key to enabling strategic growth. 
  • The BI solution should include self-service analytics to empower all data users to leverage data, and free up your data engineers time for more complex tasks.  
  • Make sure the platform provides users with useful data. Data must have context so that it’s actionable and help users answer strategic business questions like Why did the NPS drop in the last quarter?


Ten practical steps to drive user adoption  


Here are 10 steps you can follow to facilitate greater user adoption of your BI software:


1. Ensure quality data from the start of the project. Without clean data, the pipeline won’t provide valuable insights, and business users are less likely to trust the value of data.


2. Establish a well-defined BI business case, which gets everyone’s buy-in. Every user should see how their efforts contribute to the overall success. They need autonomy, mastery and purpose to become data champions. There should also be a strong management buy-in to cut through any inter-departmental confusion. 


3. Make BI a must, rather than nice to have. Some roles rely heavily on data tools, like accounting software, but the majority of functions don’t depend on BI tools. To change that, execs and managers should insist that all roles use data to drive their decision-making and show analytical proof of their decisions. 


4. Create a user adoption plan. Ensure those championing the BI in your business, like the analytics team, develop a user adoption plan alongside dashboard development. This will help to get everyone on board. Then, the plan can be adjusted as needed as the project expands. Including your user adoption plan early in the rollout will help the business achieve its data goals. 

5. Choose BI software that’s user-friendly. Business users should be able to navigate easily around the dashboard with a simple, familiar UX design. Embedded analytics is fundamental for increasing the number of successful data users.

Vizlib’s UX-friendly dashboard capabilities for Qlik Sense


6. Select BI that is agile and will grow with your business needs. Choose a modular system that can scale as your business grows. The more agile the system, the greater the level of adoption.


7. Centralise and standardise BI. To enable greater self-service adoption, it’s easier if users are working with the same accurate data through a centralised library of data, analytics and measures. 


Data analytics tools, like templates, make it easier to maintain a consistent visual standard in your company’s BI. Templates also help to speed up the development process. If you want an effective shortcut for your app development, check out Vizlib Templates for Qlik Sense

Vizlib Templates for KPI Designer


8. Promote BI success stories. Communicate the effective use of BI. If data successes are promoted from a c-suite level downwards, it helps demonstrate an overarching appreciation of data. 


Businesses can create case-studies to show how they use data successfully. Lloyds of London, the world’s leading insurance provider, promoted their data wins internally. They created a Data Centre of Excellence and a user-friendly website called My Data, to give their employees an overview of all their business data. Employees had access to apps and dashboards, and how data was used, which improved data literacy levels and boosted BI user adoption.


Business leaders can also promote BI, like new dashboards, through emails, feature-specific training, or even run dashboard contests to get users engaged and encourage more non-technical users to explore BI tools. 


9. Continuous training. Employees need a good understanding of BI tools before they’ll try to use them. They need ongoing training to build their confidence in using BI software in their day-to-day tasks. And, if the training includes real-life work examples, like an invoice approval process, they’ll absorb the knowledge quicker and retain it longer. 


As a business leader, you can provide support that includes: 


  • Improving data literacy levels (Qlik and The Data Literacy Project offer great resources) 
  • Training videos 
  • Tutorials
  • Access to BI tools
  • Utilising BI service provider training (For practical training on our value-added products for Qlik Sense, check out the Vizlib YouTube channel)
  • One-on-one software training
  • Additional support resources, like FAQs


10. Monitor usage. Track the success or failure of BI projects. For example, you could track the number of users using a new dashboard. Then, if usage is low, investigate why and correct or adapt to suit the key stakeholders. 


The reasons could be that the users don’t see the value in the new dashboard, don’t know how to use the new tool well enough or perhaps don’t understand the purpose of it. Create a feedback survey to get the data you need to make improvements, offer more training and push up adoption rates.


You can drive user adoption with ease when you utilise a modern, flexible BI solution. One which enables users to explore data confidently without having to learn in-depth technical or analytical skills. 


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