Why Don’t Employees Always Adopt Business Intelligence Tools?

Many companies select and deploy a business intelligence (BI) system thinking it’s a given that they’ll soon be gleaning incredible value from all that data they’ve been storing over the years. They wait a bit. Then they wait a little longer. But the results are less impressive than they’d hoped, even months or years after deployment. So, what gives?

Deployment is only part of the puzzle. Realizing true value from BI depends heavily on adoption. In other words: Are employees actually using these tools regularly, uncovering data-driven insights they can use to fuel better decision-making? Or are the tools sitting on “the shelf” gathering virtual dust in the background?

Employees don’t always, or automatically, adopt BI tools. Here are three reasons why.

Complex or Clunky Tools Plummet User Adoption

CIO sums it up succinctly: “If your employees hate using the platform, adoption rates will tank. When adoption rates tank, your company has wasted money on this initiative.”

What constitutes a positive user experience (UX) in the world of BI? The interface employees interact with directly must be intuitive. Data insights should be clear, returning to users in a form that best fits the answers at hand. Employees should be able to easily share insights with colleagues without hurdles.

Put simply: Organizations will experience subpar adoption rates if their BI tools are too slow or complex. If your business is still holding onto legacy tools that are underperforming in the speed or ease-of-use departments, it’s time to upgrade.

Think about using your favorite mobile app—its easy-to-use interface is probably a major contributing factor to why you’ve chosen to return to that app continually over another. Well, BI is the same way. When the UX is good, people want to use it, or at least aren’t opposed to doing so as needed.

Legacy Tools Limit Accessibility

The world of BI and data analytics moves quickly. Even tools a few years behind the times lack the functionality of today’s advanced offerings. It’s simply more of a chore for employees to use legacy tools than it is to use today’s accessible tools.

Many legacy BI tools required some level of assistance from a specialized IT or data team—meaning non-technical end users would have to submit a request and wait on a response. This gap between having a question and receiving an answer can stop even the most determined employee in their tracks.

Today’s business intelligence tools from providers like ThoughtSpot allow anyone—who’s been granted permission by central data governance, of course—to conduct their own ad hoc queries, drill down into their own data visualizations, create their own dashboards and embed results across shared workflows. This approach eliminates the “middleman,” empowering employees across departments to crunch the numbers as often as needed with ease.

Company Culture Is Not Data Driven—Yet

Think about what a typical decision looks like within your company. Are people used to going with their guts or falling back on instinct to make decisions? Or do people first turn to data for answers and guidance? Unless your organization has consciously incorporated data-driven decision-making into its culture, it’s unrealistic to expect individuals to make these tools part of their normal workflows.

And remember, leaders absolutely set the precedent for their team’s overall approach to BI. This is an area in which leading by example is crucial. It’s only fair to expect employees to adopt BI systems if managers and executives are already doing so. Make sure leaders avoid inadvertently sabotaging BI adoption efforts by continuing to choose instinct over analytics.

Finally, get employees comfortable using BI tools and discussing data with one another. Fostering a culture that prioritizes data literacy goes a long way toward encouraging adoption.

Making BI tools available in the workplace is a start. But adoption depends on incorporating data into company culture, encouraging data-driven decision-making and eliminating any user experience or accessibility problems for employees.