It’s natural for organizations to think about BI success exclusively in terms of outcomes, because after all, improving the bottom line enables advancement of the organization’s mission.
For example, we often see organizations determining whether a BI project was successful by monitoring for increases in member engagement, conference attendance, or renewal rates. While these metrics are crucial, they don’t account for how an organization plans to achieve them. Simply implementing a BI initiative or setting goals doesn’t address the roadmap for achieving real results.
Define BI Success
According to Gartner, 60-80% of BI projects are eventually abandoned. In other words, most BI projects are not successful. Let’s consider that “success” in these cases may have been poorly defined, unrealistic, or misguided entirely.
BI success is about the destination AND the journey. Setting realistic expectations, striving toward appropriate goals, and evaluating a project’s performance will naturally occur if you can hold these two factors as your roadmap:
1) Cultural Shift
Consider the journey your organization will take to transition from your current relationship with data to relying on it at every level in every department. Creating an environment in which data is accessible and users are comfortable both getting and understanding it without assistance, is a vital factor that will determine if and how your team will actually use data to make decisions.
True success through this lens looks like everyday people learning to – and being empowered to -
- make decisions
- optimize initiatives
- develop new initiatives
… all while using data. It’s each small decision made throughout the organization, culminating in bigger outcomes, like member retention. Eliminating the barriers to using data by providing easy access, comfort, and understanding will enable individuals and teams to make those smaller decisions.
2) Platform Adoption and User Engagement
Equally important to facilitating a cultural shift is enabling end-user adoption and engagement of your BI tool. Your best chance of long-term success is to make data 1) easy to find, and 2) available to everyone – quickly and from anywhere. For example, you can begin requiring data in your meetings, which is undoubtedly a positive step, but only if this promotes efficiency for every single person in attendance. If finding data is laborious and time intensive, the process will outweigh the benefits and eventually fizzle out.
Alternatively, if your entire team adopts a platform and uses it with regularity, data will become extraordinarily useful and advantageous for your organization. If access is limited to an expressed number of people or a single department, the rest of the organization will opt out of using data as the result of bottlenecked resources, outdated metrics, or other obstacles. Empowering everyone with actionable data is critical to adopting it into your processes.
Experience Long Term Results
BI success is driven by remapping the way your organization views the role of data in everyday decision-making, then engaging and equipping your entire team to use it. You will then experience ebbs and flows in your metrics, as all organizations do, but you’ll have the data to make accurate and informed decisions to plan for – not simply respond to – evolution in your industry. And of course, devise strategies to improve those key metrics, like increasing member engagement or renewal rate.
Andrew Huling, CTO of Gravitate Solutions, recently covered this topic in-depth during his webinar, “User Experience and Engagement: How to Achieve BI Success.” Watch it on-demand for a deeper dive into being successful in your next BI project.