Last Thursday my colleague Paul French and I presented a webinar with ThoughtSpot called “How Nationwide is Modernising Analytics with Search & AI”. In this session we presented some of the use cases that we have built in ThoughtSpot including mortgage pipeline, savings flow, MemberIQ (a customer 365-type use case) and a unique one called “BVSSH” - or Better Value Sooner Safer Happier, which is about improving how we deliver business change and monitor flow.
Making the case for another BI tool
I remember attending a conference where one of the speakers said that if you think one Business Intelligence (BI) tool will fit every use case and solution, then you need to think again. It can be hard to know when to use which BI tool. I explained how I initially tried to solve this at Nationwide Building Society using a decision tree with yes/no questions but as hard as I tried to make it work, I realised it wasn’t the right approach. The strengths of each tool set them apart from each other, and you need to have detailed conversations with stakeholders to figure out which is the right tool for the job.
I think at first, many of the team and end users were initially sceptical about another BI tool. Part of my job was to convince them that ThoughtSpot filled a gap, offering true self-service analytics, immediate data insights and eventually, data literacy.
When we first started working with ThoughtSpot, I assumed that some people would fully embrace a new tool and different ways of working, whilst others would prefer to stick to tools they were familiar with. I was pleasantly surprised to find that many different types of business users - including some I wasn’t expecting - embraced ThoughtSpot. The ability to search and explore everything in our data coupled with automated insights, has massively enabled people to achieve a level of self-service our leaders hadn’t thought possible. I realised that once you show people and get their hands on ThoughtSpot, they really start to believe in the potential.
The importance of leading from the top
Our leaders had been championing the cause of making data more accessible. Our Chief Data Officer had long been searching for a tool like ThoughtSpot that would let business users explore data using a simple search interface and natural language (he told me it was about 7 years he had been on the hunt!). Their instincts to build a data-driven culture aligned with those in a recent global study by Harvard Business School where 87% of respondents said their organisations were more successful when ‘frontline’ (business users) were empowered to make important decisions ‘in the moment’.
It’s vital to have executive support for data and analytics because it’s a big culture shift from a world of emails and clunky manual reporting to one of true self-service, and re-evaluating what works and what doesn’t. This shift requires leaders to be involved and support change. As Paul French touched on in the webinar: “We needed the capability to challenge some of the institutional knowledge that existed in the Society. Trying to find patterns and trends in our data that could tell us things that we didn’t know. Open our eyes, if you will, to new opportunities in our business using our granular data.”
My top tips for promoting user adoption
In data and analytics, technology is only as good as adoption. It doesn't matter how differentiated the tool, impactful the use case, or strong the executive support if no one is using the technology to change how they work and make decisions which add value to your business. Several people were curious about how we achieved such high adoption, successfully rolling out to 400 business users - and counting! So here are my top tips for user adoption:
Establish power users in your business – anyone who is an advocate and encourages others to use BI tools is only a good thing (and reduces the number of queries back to central BI teams!)
Have an approachable support team – there are lots of mechanisms for people to get help, but sometimes we want to talk to a human who can help and give a personal experience. Make time for this.
Build a range of learning materials – make them easy to follow, short and quick. Get the balance between short video self-serve training options and in person (or now over video call!) training sessions to make sure there is something for everyone, whatever their learning style.
Make it fun - we introduced prize draws for everyone who provided feedback on ThoughtSpot. You could run other types of competitions to draw out people’s creativity, like ‘data insight of the month’.
Gartner says ‘Data literacy is an essential part of a data-driven culture’. If we want to become more data literate, and move towards not just being data-driven but being insight-driven, then we have to make it as easy as possible for business users to access data, search, explore it and get the insight needed to make a decision which in turn adds value to your organisation.
We’ve rolled out ThoughtSpot to four use cases already, with hundreds of business users and adoption rising and we’re really only just getting started – so watch this space! I hope these tips will help you drive user adoption in your organisations and ultimately become more insight-driven.
The recording of the webinar is here if you’d like to watch it on-demand.