BI User Adoption Part 3: Access Preferences

Submitted on: Thu, 02.19.2015 04:43am - Nick Matras |

This is the third in a series of blog posts on user adoption considerations for BI implementations. Previously I discussed how to determine who could benefit from BI and what type of information users need. Once we’ve answered these questions our next step is to decide how we’ll get this information into users hands.

Getting people to access and use the information served up by a BI solution is perhaps the biggest challenge of all. Not everyone is a “data geek” like the people here at MITS. We realize distributors have employees who span the continuum of technical proficiency, from people who are analytic-oriented and tech savvy to others who use their PCs for sending and receiving email and little else. This is true with every distributor we work with, even the most aggressive users of MITS. But don’t worry, we took this challenge into consideration when we designed our reporting and BI solution, and any other provider you consider should have as well.

Benefits of a Browser-Based BI Solution

There is a very good reason why we made MITS entirely browser based. According to data published by the Pew Research Center in 2014*, 87% of U.S. adults said they use the internet, at least occasionally. So the odds are many, if not most, of the people in your company already use an internet browser like Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome or Safari. Not only is an internet browser all that’s required to use MITS, people can use their preferred browser so it has a look and feel they are familiar with. Every screen, dashboard, and report in the system is a webpage, which makes it easier to learn and use, not to mention easier for the IT team to deploy and maintain.  

In spite of all that, you’ll probably still have people who “don’t do software”. That’s why every dashboard, scorecard and report in MITS can be emailed in a PDF form. Your users can have reports and scorecards emailed to them or they can log into the system and interact with their data directly, whichever they prefer. This lets them do as much or as little analysis as they choose. They won’t even need to log in to MITS to get their information. Even so, they can still get a scorecard that shows how they’re doing and see what their customers are doing on a daily, weekly, or whatever frequency they want. So as you think about each individual user this is something you should consider.

Portability & Mobility

So maybe you’re thinking that all sounds great but I have managers and sales reps who will want to see their data when they’re out in the field or from home. Two more advantages of a browser-based design are portability and mobility. Users can get full access to MITS from their desktop, laptop, tablet, or smart phone as long as they have a browser. This also means access to MITS when they are away from the office. I find more and more companies have created employee portals or virtual private networks (VPNs) for remote access to their internal systems. These same secure access points can be used for MITS. So your sales reps, managers, purchasing agents and others can access the data they need when meeting with customers, vendors, or suppliers no matter where they are.

Everyone consumes BI information differently, that’s why a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t effective. Consider the needs and technical expertise of each user. Serve up the information in a way that they are comfortable with and you’ll increase the rate of adoption at your company.

In my next post I’ll discuss how we can structure a plan for adoption as well as other resources at our disposal. In the meantime, I would enjoy hearing your thoughts and experience around user adoption.

*Fox, Susannah and Rainie, Lee. “The Web at 25 in the PewResearchCenter. February 27, 2014.