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PsyOps Part 2: Winning the Hearts and Minds of Business Users

Read - Psy Ops Part 1: How to Turn the Tide of Analytics Adoption

In my last blog, I outlined four tactics to turn the tide of business analytics (BA) adoption: 1) report watermarks 2) self-service tests 3) grant awards and 4) office hours and lunch and learns.

My inspiration was the psychological operations (PsyOps) groups in the U.S. military that use a variety of non-lethal techniques to sow doubt in the minds of enemy combatants or gain the support and backing of local inhabitants in a war zone.

In the realm of business analytics, the goal of these PsyOps tactics is to change the mindsets of business users and teams accustomed to building data silos and ignoring or rejecting analytical solutions delivered by the BA team. This article presents four more PsyOps tactics guaranteed to get business people to partner with your BA team and adopt its solutions.

1. The Quick Win

Without a doubt, the best way to win the hearts and minds of the business is to deliver a quick win. A quick win is a new analytical solution that far surpasses the expectations of the business and gets them to view the BA team in a new light—as a strategic partner that can help them achieve their goals, rather than an expensive and uncomfortable corporate straitjacket.

The quick win might deliver new functionality—such as a mobile sales dashboard that boost sales or improves sales person efficiency. Or it might turbo-charge performance of an existing application or add meaningful correlations with social media and other new data, or use deep analytics to deliver real-time cross-sell offers.

Besides innovative solutions, a quick win is delivered rapidly and under budget using new technology or approaches that transform the BA from a slow, plodding corporate development shop into a high-flying tech innovator. A quick win changes perceptions of the BA team overnight and can create an avalanche of demand for its services.  

2. Relationship Managers

Another powerful PsyOps tactic is a relationship manager. Rather than a run-of-the-mill requirements analyst who takes orders from the business and translates them into specifications for developers, a relationship manager engages the business at a strategic level. Combining deep knowledge of a business unit’s people, politics, processes, and data, along with a reasonable understanding of BA technology, a relationship manager proactively suggests technical solutions to the business unit’s key challenges and opportunities.

A relationship manager transforms the normal tepid relationship between the business and the BA team into a strategic partnership. A relationship manager spends a lot of time in the business unit and attends most of its strategy, planning, and operations meetings. Rather than taking orders, they suggest solutions before the business unit even it knows there is a technical fix to their problem or opportunity.

The best relationship managers once worked in the business as business analysts or analytics managers. The BA must identify these key individuals and recruit them work on the BA team. Or conversely, they might formalize the role of an industrious business analyst who effectively serves as a relationship manager on a voluntary basis.

3. Working Committee

A third PsyOps tactic guaranteed to change the tide of analytics adoption is a working committee comprised of analytics managers in each business unit. These managers oversee teams that invariably create spreadmarts and renegade reporting solutions. They are solely focused on meeting their business unit’s information needs using their own resources and often fiercely resist the entreats of the corporate BA team to do things in a standard way for the benefit of the corporation.

Creating a working committee takes a lot of courage. Creating a board of directors of people who repeatedly undermine efforts to deliver a corporate analytics capability ultimate responsibility for the corporate BA function is like putting the “fox in charge of the henhouse.” Although the BA team still does the heavy lifting, the working committee must review and approve the corporate BA strategy, roadmap, standards, and marketing and training programs.

The beauty of a working committee—if you can overcome people’s initial objections for participating—is that once individuals begin meeting and talking, they start to lose their business unit blinders and see the benefits of working together across functional boundaries. They may identify opportunities to piggyback on each other’s work to save money and speed deployments. They start thinking globally, rather than locally.

4. Analytics Forum

The final PsyOps tactic targets spreadmart creators themselves—the data analysts and data scientists—who feel impelled to collect, integrate and visualize data on their own. Since most of these individuals work in silos deep within a business unit or department, they often unknowingly recreate the work of other analysts, and in the process, spend a majority of their time preparing data rather than analyzing it.

The BA team should create and support an analytics forum—both in person and online—so these data specialists can meet and share ideas about their craft and tools. By sharing tips and tricks, these analysts can become more productive and identify opportunities for collaboration across departmental boundaries. Like their analyst managers on the working committee, they may start seeing their work from a global perspective and how it impacts the organization as a whole.

Better yet, by convening regular meetings of analysts and listening to what they discuss, the BA team can identify the next generation of requirements for the data warehouse and departmental marts. It can also help identify training classes and videos that might help analysts improve their productivity with analytical tools.

Transforming Perceptions 

To succeed as a BA professional, it’s not enough to provide great technology and architect exquisite solutions. You must win the hearts and minds of business people. With a complete PsyOps playbook and a bit of innovative thinking and courage, you can transform how business people perceive the BA team and turn the tide of analytics adoption in your favor.

Wayne Eckerson

Wayne Eckerson is an internationally recognized thought leader in the business intelligence and analytics field. He is a sought-after consultant and noted speaker who thinks critically, writes clearly and presents...

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