Communication is tricky. Using the english language to provide “spin” is a practice as old as the language itself. Our language is littered with terms that were invented for the sole purpose of sanitizing sentences. Strategic bombing, collateral damage, right sizing, economically disadvantaged, the english language is filled with “safe” words that actually hide more nefarious meanings. The BI industry, of course, is not immune, with one of the best examples being “BI best practices”
So what’s wrong with best practices you say? Why not teach people the right way to use business intelligence software? Of course, a great goal! However, if you read between the lines the BI industry really means: “here is why your BI project failed…” – it’s just safer to tell someone they did not follow “best practices.” The idea is simple enough, to succeed there is a list of things you should do, and you should do them in a certain way. Follow the “rules” and your BI implementation will be hyper-successful and achieve amazing things. The laundry list of “BI best practices” is long – and varied – depending on who you ask the list changes. There are, however, some generally accepted “best practices” that companies supposedly break on a frequent basis:
- You didn’t have clean data
Right, the “clean data” argument. For BI to “work” you need to clean your data. Great idea! sounds simple, where’s the Windex? Problem is, it’s not so simple to actually DO. Have you ever tried to convince a sales rep to stop putting call notes in the SAME call record – just because it’s more convenient… FOR HIM? Shouldn’t your system be able to give you at least some insights regardless of how clean your data is? Shouldn’t it at least highlight that data entry practices are in need of help?
- Your BI team was out of sync with “line of business”
Ah yes, the “blame the IT guy” issue. This argument says that if you could only get the BI team to communicate efficiently with the business users, and if you can get buy-in from the business users, and if you can get the business users to give you clear requirements….then all with be “OK.” The problem is, as a business user, how do you know where to start? How do you know what needs tracking? How do you know that you are asking the right questions? To quote a former customer … “…if I knew what problems I had, I wouldn’t need BI, now would I?…”
- You bought the wrong product!
Of course! It’s YOUR fault for not seeing through the “perfect” demo the vendor gave you that (of course) was designed to “look” perfect! It’s not that they over-sold you, didn’t qualify you properly, YOU over-bought! But wait, aren’t the BI vendors supposed to be the experts? Aren’t we supposed to tell you that you are about to buy the wrong product? Aren’t we all using “consultative” selling techniques?
- You didn’t train enough staff (or train them enough)
This is one of my favorites, apparently your BI implementation failed because you decided NOT to send business users and IT people to days (or weeks) worth of classes that (a) would end up costing tens of thousands and (b) would take employees away from what they should be doing and sent them to play school instead! Shouldn’t a BI product be smart enough and intuitive enough for a user to just “know” how to use it?
- You didn’t have top-down buy-in
Another favorite, the idea is that since this will be SO expensive, and SO complicated, and it will be SUCH a big deal (maybe an ordeal), you should get your CEO, your VPs, Directors and everyone else in line to get excited about the project. Great idea, wonderful goal… have you ever tried doing that? Talk about hearing cats, what happened to just buying a system that …… WORKS…
Banish “BI best practices”
At Quarrio we think it’s time to banish the word “best practices.” We want to create a system that works, works well, works from the first day, is easy to implement and that is learned by watching a few short videos – not by attending days in a library! It’s what we call “Conversational Analytics™,” a system that uses the power of conversations to let you investigate and understand your world. Interested? Stay tuned, more is to come.