For decades now in the data field we've assumed that if we build it, they will come. We're essentially the gate keepers of knowledge and insight. In previous years this may have been true as business users had no other option but to come to us. This may still be the case in some industries.
However, more and more likely it is that business teams can obtain great insights from the systems they use to execute their functions. It's becoming more and more common today that these systems offer rich integration with Business Intelligence and Analytics packages that enable them to do it themselves.
There is good and bad here…
- Speed: teams can get these things up and running w/ a few clicks and a matter of minutes
- Interactivity: the systems are often highly interactive allowing users the ability to truly dig into the data
- Aesthetics: The interfaces are often built by graphics professionals and are visually stunning
- Blinders: often these systems only contain one view of the world and don't offer the whole picture
- Rigid: many of these off-the-shelf tools aren't very customizable leaving users with much to be desired
- Misinformation: the tools definition of a metric may be different than your business interpretation of that metric leading to decision making based on false data
- Security: any time your data leaves your firewall you're at risk. Some vendors are really good about protecting it, others however are not, so be careful.
With all that said, what this leads to is data teams need to be thinking about servicing their business partners as if they were external customers.
These customers should get the same great service and products that they would if they were buying a third party product to do the job. This idea of data as a product is one I'll touch on in the future. For now, the key step is that you start thinking of your business partners as customers, and do things to help keep them engaged with your products.
One thing I've done recently at a clients site is hire a growth hacker. This is someone solely focused on recruiting new users to the data systems, getting them to their aha moment, and retaining them over time by keeping them engaged.
Some ideas we're experimenting with in this regard:
- Bi-weekly newsletter to all users. Make sure to use an email marketing tool that you can do A/B testing and measure the open rates, click through, etc.. and see how well these are working. Also, let your users unsubscribe. We all hate unwanted email, so if your users are sick of you, let them go.
- Weekly Data Guild meetings where we have guest speakers, featured visualizations, and other data news from around the company or externally. This keeps folks engaged and increases the face time of the remote folks across all of the offices.
- Hire a designer. We've got a UI/UX designer building out the front-end of our reporting platform so our users will feel like what they're getting is a world class product worthy of their time and attention.
This is just the beginning. If you give this a go, please share your insights about what is working at your org.