Please don't deny you have never been in trouble winning your end users for your Analytics platform? ... users who cannot find your reports .... users who don't understand how to use your insights ... users who go back to Excel because they can manipulate anything .... users who are lost in the woods of dashboards, storyboards, reports, query panels and what have you ..... And don't be ashamed to confess. You have been there too; I just know by talking to so many customers around the world all the time.
Nevertheless it is also no secret that your analytics environment is as strong as the recurring number of users to it. No users means no intelligent decision taking. No intelligent decision taking probably means ... well, you finish this sentence. In essence this case comes down to "how to win your end users for your analytics".
Introducing the Rule of 7even
Comparing enterprises that do have a large and confident user community to those who don't, I always observe 7 areas of differences coming back all the time. The successful enterprises always applied these 7 areas to a great extend. Always! It makes me convinced there are the key to the success in winning your end users, and that's why I bundled them in the Rule of 7even. Your recipe to have end users making smart decisions by using your analytical insights.
Easy access to any Insights
Identity & Uniformity
Ability to Monitor, Project & Simulate
Analytics analyzing for you
Analytics chasing you instead of the other way around
Leverage LOB content
Below is a 45 min video (just click the image) where I show how one can apply the "rule of 7even" using SAP Analytics Cloud. Every rule is explained and highlighted with a demo and use case. Below the video I detailed out each one of the rules. The accompanying slides of the video can be found here
Let's go through them one by one and detail the 7even areas. Where possible I will comment on the area explaining how SAP answers to those areas with their offering.
Easy access to any Insights: of course your analytics software should be easy to use and provide all flexibility to your end users. Interactivity, easy commenting and collaboration, adding sources on the fly etc etc. All key. Yet what is at least important is that users want one (!) place where they can access all the insights. Regardless of the analytics being on premise or in cloud, regardless it is from Vendor x or Vendor y. Everything must be in one place. You will loose users if they need to login to one portal for their finance info and another for their sales info; to one portal for tool x and another for tool y. Stop that; it will kill your success; users are never going to do that. Something like SAP Analytics Hub (AH) solves that issue. Basically AH forms a catalog that is the single place for users to go to. SSO techniques determine if someone is authorized to open the insight. Simple refinement filters allow to quickly find what you need. Fuzzy text search gives instant results. Every insight comes with metadata like KPI definition, data sources, description, language, business owner etc. It has a workflow embedded with an approval process if someone wants to add new insights. A secret tip is that some of my customers use AH to manage their fool taxonomy.
Identity & Uniformity: users heavily rely on content that they trust and recognize. If it has the "corporate brand" on it, people trust and recognize the quality. Therefor the insights that you provide need to be set-up and designed in a consistent, uniformed way: KPI's should always mean the same, chart types need to be applied in a consistent way, color-coding needs to be consistent (the same attribute always has the same color) .... just to name a few. Uniformity and consistency in design will lead to insights getting a kind of "corporate identity". End users simply buy-in into such an identity. A good approach is already to use templates. Templates allow you to drive consistent design by driving color, font, chart types, formula's, input controls, mobile readiness etc etc. You could even create templates per domain (i.e. Finance, Supply Chain etc). SAC offers very easy way of defining templates. It can even set up authorizations per template so you can force certain users to use certain templates. Good he? Now, even stronger would be if you use a visualization standard like IBCS as part of your uniformity. IBCS really helps making the way you share a message through insights (dashboards, reports, storyboards etc) consistent. Some additional good content on IBCS can be found here.
Instant Access: users require insights with the very latest accuracy. Meaning, users want to see the situation as it is now; not the situation that was 10 minutes or 10 hours ago. No latency! The only way to do so, is to have Live access to the data sources. I repeat, no
latency! Live connectivity is also a method that users just trust better, since no data will leave the source systems and nothing is replicated into a cloud environment. With a Live data connection, all data stays within the Firewall of the enterprise; only the metadata of an insight is send to the Analytics Cloud environment.
Ability to Monitor, Project & Simulate: gone are the times that just indicating "how the situation is" is sufficient. That does not make sense at all. If we analyse, we must have the ability to project our outcomes against a plan or budget. We do want to compare the differences and variances. And if that budget is not available, we want to be able to create it in the same environment as we analyse or data so we can monitor progress. Makes sense? In the same flow your end users wants to run their own scenarios. What If I'd be able to lower my
labor costs with 1,4%: how does that impact the margin? What alternatives do I have to increase margin; are there certain key influencers next to labor costs? In other words, they require to run what-if scenarios and predictive models. In a separate environment: no, of course not. SAP Analytics Cloud plays on that need pretty well and combines all of BI, Planning and Predictive Analytics in one environment. As a user you step in when and where you want: start from Planning and next compare against actuals with BI? Or use BI insights to explore new product-mixes by using Predictive Analytics? All possible. Pretty smart, and heavily appreciated by end-users.
Analytics analyzing for you: With so much data available to end users - both in number of sources, complexity and volume - you have to think of mechanisms to assist those users in analyzing. Specifically I point here at mechanisms that intelligently take over a lot of the design
and data exploration activities of the user. This to prevent your users from spending all their time on creating the insights instead of them doing something intelligent with the insights and outcomes themselves. Examples are automatic influencer analysis based on correlation algorithms that tell which attributes contributes the most to the measure(s) of your choice. Another example is the software automatically generating additional - alternative - insights next to the visualization the user created, which the user can add to the story- or dashboard instantly. The latest software can even automatically create a full dashboard from whatever data source. An example in the video here. What I personally really like is that users now can create insights by just asking the
data source a question like the'd do using Google: "show the top 10 products by margin% for 2018" or "show budgeted costs 2018 versus 2017 by country". This uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology and allows the user to just type - or even say (!) - their questions. IN SAP Analytics Cloud - that is loaded with so-called Smart Features - this functionality is called Search To Insight. For end users it is a relief and saves them a lot of time. You can find more background on the analytics starting to analyse for you in this blog which includes a few demo videos too.
Analytics chasing you instead of the other way around: this article is not about the annual Trends in Analytics. But if you allow me to mention one, it's definitely that we shift from "the User chasing the Analytics, the Analytics start chasing You". Modern analytics tools get more and more intelligent and start suggesting the user for things to watch. They chase the user and make life easier for them. It's what users asked for. Intelligent analytics is not only about things like alerting or scheduling, it is about dynamic conditional formatting and clearly highlight the things that require attention no matter what grain or perspective you look at. It is about things like automated smart insights when you run a variance analysis to highlight where you should further investigate. It is also about influencer analysis to show correlations to KPI by attribute or dimension. I could continue here, but I think my point is clear. Using predictive algorithms and Machine Learning technology, modern analytics become so much smarter and take over end user design activities very quickly know. And we can expect more from this. Why? Because your users ask for it.
Leverage LOB content: Just have a look at this blog, and you know enough: why every-time re-invent the analytics for your Industry or Line of Business when you could benefit from all the great things others have done already? If you are in Healthcare and require analytics on the occupation of beds, do you think that wasn't done before by another hospital. Of course it has. That's why SAP brings a massive amount of pre-built LOB & Industry content with SAP Analytics Cloud. It comes with models, storyboard or even Digital Boardrooms. It uses sample data from a structure and source system (i.e. S/4HANA) that their healthcare users use themselves. So you as a user just have to "re-point" to your own systems and off you go. Talking tile savings ! SAP now also opened up their partner channel to provide content so you can imagine how rich this included content library is becoming. So much of my customers love it and benefit from an enormous increase in their time-to-market.