January is the month of big plans. Personally, many of us have looked back on 2015 and resolved to make big improvements in the coming year – eat
healthier, lose weight, save more money, get organized, etc. We know what we should be doing and we even know how, but all too often we lose focus on those plans until they’re gradually forgotten or ignored. There’s always next year…
When it comes to data analytics, there is no denying the benefits. Yet many associations and other organizations have not been able to achieve the impact they hoped for. Why? It’s certainly not due to lack of clarity on the problem. Adoption is not a new issue. A BI Scorecard study confirms adoption remains flat at an average of 22% of employees since they began collecting the data in 2006. And there is a broad agreement on the root causes:
While much of the industry focuses on software and technical innovations, the main barriers are organizational and cultural, according to 84% of survey respondents.
So how can associations avoid having their data analytics initiatives and investments end up like a lightly used treadmill – full of promise but light on results? Here are a few practical suggestions to accelerate adoption in 2016:
- Marketing/Promotion – Market the specific benefits of analytics internally like all other important programs or organizational strategies. Position data guided decision making as a key element of the future of the association that everyone should be part of. Celebrate even small successes using all internal communications.
- Data Champions – Even with internal marketing and promotion, the idea that all business staff will be moved to adopt and sustain use of analytics tools and processes is unrealistic. Data champions are what we call the analytical thinkers that know the organization and the data. They’re early adopters and power users of the analytics toolset. They’re the first to learn how to create simple visualizations. In short, they lead by example, demonstrating to others how analytics solutions will help them be more effective. It’s important to find and/or develop these resources in your association. They can act like personal trainers, providing some education and a lot of motivation.
- HR Policies and practices – The organizational and cultural changes necessary for a transformation to data guided decision making are all about people. Human Resources programs should hire, recognize, reward, and promote based on analytical competencies, just like other technical skills or qualifications that build value in an organization. To transform your association, consider changes in Recruitment, Performance Management, and Compensation.
- Investment in Training – always a worthwhile investment for satisfied and productive employees, training is particularly important for sustained adoption in data analytics. To get the most return on your investment:
- Target training primarily toward the business staff, not data analysts. Emphasize the practical, not the theoretical.
- Use real data. Staff will be more engaged if they’re not continually trying to determine how the lessons apply to their actual work.
- Start small. Focus on what’s most important for the specific audience, especially with respect to new software tools.
- Shorter, hands-on lessons work best.
- Record and Reuse – screen capture recordings of common tasks/reports are a great way to provide some quick on-demand help to staff, especially if they might be uncomfortable asking for help.
Resolutions are, almost by definition, difficult. They’re long term challenges that require our resolve to sustain. Adoption of data analytics processes, tools, and culture requires similar resolve. Like our annual commitments to self-improvement, success is very rewarding.