In my last blog, I described some of the most important milestones in developing and implementing a BI solution that not just functions with integrity, but also becomes known, used and respected across your whole organization.
Unless you are a BI strategy consultant the following points often get neglected, or are not part of any workpackages of a “classic” BI developer. Nevertheless, marketing is quite an important piece, especially if you try to get budget approved and you are internally responsible for BI.
Once you and your team have completed the identity component of the process (see chapter identity) and found a logo and an acronym for your BI landscape, it is important to make sure all your communication is branded with your BI department logo / sign. In our case all of our communication associated with the tool contains the same eye that defines our BI logo (also found within the tool itself).
Now you may be wondering how to effectively market your BI tool? How do you get your BI user community take notice of your solution and also instantly recognize that the output is from your tool?
Marketing to achieve user “buy-in” and widespread acceptance/adoption is just as important as ease-of-use and data integrity. This is especially important if you are trying to build a successful solution at the headquarter level and some of your local entities already have a local, functioning solution (probably even with the same product). Don’t underestimate the need to separate your tool from the others, making it unique and recognizable. All promotion pieces need to be connected with your BI solution – cohesive branding through consistent messaging and reuse of key visual images/phrases is key to achieve your goal of being the “go-to” tool for information.
There are 5 instruments as part of our strategies we currently use.
Create regular newsletters with your BI branded design.
Inform your community on a regular basis – they will receive a newsletter from your department – and deliver the newsletters when promised! Use these communications to explain any significant planned changes, but also highlight what is new and improved in your BI application, based on the latest feedback you received from key stakeholders. Providing a lookout on upcoming improvements or recently answered business questions, connects you to your users and the newsletter almost becomes a two-way dialogue. Think of your audience! These type of updates should not necessarily be written from a “technical-only” perspective, but from a business enduser standpoint. Your job is to ensure their questions are answered. If your BI department is not sitting within the finance group or any other active business department, have someone closer to business needs of your organization and gear your newsletter to address those needs.
First ever sent newsletter communicating the golive of our platform.
Loyalty programs, contents and prize-driven promotions are everywhere these days because they work! The effort of making something people can take with them is time well spent when it is done properly. It doesn’t have to complex – but can be as simple as creating a “give away” card with some of the most important BI navigation steps explained in a unique or clever way. We created a “safety on board” card (mirroring those found on planes) that was printed on the same flame-retardant used for actual in-flight cards. They now regularly appear on a lot our users desks. Not only were they a source of ongoing promotion of the tool, but they have almost turned into a collector’s item as everyone wanted to have one!
We had a lot of fun creating this one.. 🙂
Information needs must be addressed differently, depending on the profile of the various stakeholders. Top management often likes to receive information in a polished and “high glossy” way. With limited time and competing demands for attention, solutions must be presented at an appropriately high level and contain only the relevant information needed to address their immediate request or present information needs. That is not to discount the need and importance of long term BI strategy discussions and planning meetings with Senior Management, (another point in this blog) however, here I am focusing on routine communications and marketing initiatives.
For example, we designed a booklet and had it printed professionally for senior management. The booklet had limited introduction content, but instead was written as a series of questions and answers, designed to help them find the information they need on a day-to-day business. We explained answers to questions such as “where do I find my sales to operating expenses ratio?” which is a KPI that is regularly monitored or “where is the report we use for the monthly sales performance call?” These questions were designed to be directly applicable to the management group and explained in simple steps where they could find the relevant reports in our BI, as we have standardized formatted reports for this group. With management empowered with a tool to help them obtain their own reports, the management group use of the system (and thus system “buy-in”) dramatically improved. In general, there is no self service BI or BEx reporting for top management as it has not been designed for use at that level.
You don’t want to go down that road and try to explain C-level members what they need to select and filter to get the desired figures. Most often their attention would be long gone by then.
WIKI and Report Definitions
With easy access to sharepoint linked into our solution, the analytics user group can access all of the KPI definitions. This is efficient for both the user and the BI team, as it solves many questions before they even reach your BI team. When a user is unclear between what (for example) is the difference between Net and Gross sales? A quick click on the key figure text and it pulls both the definition and all of the restrictions that are applied in the background.
Similarly, with access to the report definitions endusers can easily lookup each characteristic that is available – including origin and how they are filtered. Also the report explains the business purpose and describes the report target group and how frequently the cycle the update occurs.
One last point I’m not elaborating further here are the good training document/material for your “BI self service” user group. This to avoid the question if BI self service is a really good thing.
thanks for reading
(c) by the author on all screenshots