Unleash Your Analytic Leadership for Success: Boosting End User Adoption

Unleash Your Analytic Leadership for Success Boosting End User Adoption
Unleash Your Analytic Leadership for Success Boosting End User Adoption
Written by Heather L. Cole, May 25th, 2023

In the ever-evolving world of finance and analytics, being a true leader means equipping yourself with the skills and knowledge to drive analytic success.  One powerful way to achieve this is by attending our Analytic Success Boot Camp with your team.  It’s a two-day, in person analytic boot camp that will get your team energized and focused on game changing initiatives.  In this blog, we will explore why analytic executives should invest their time in such an opportunity, focusing on the key aspects of analytic leadership, analytic success, and end user adoption.  Let's dive in and discover how this adventure can transform your analytic initiatives and tie them to your company's strategic goals.

Discover the Power of Analytic Leadership:

As an analytic executive, stepping into the role of an analytic leader is crucial.  Attending the boot camp will empower you to become an Analytic Avenger, leading the charge in leveraging data-driven insights. By optimizing your analytic leadership skills, you'll position yourself as a strategic driver within your organization. (See our Analytic Leadership Video)

Drive Analytic Success through Requirements Discovery:

Requirements discovery is the key to unlocking analytic success.  At the boot camp, you'll learn how to channel your inner Indiana Jones to excavate the hidden gems of requirements within your organization. This process ensures that your analytic initiatives align with the strategic goals of your company, propelling you toward success.  (See our blog, Stop Requirement Gathering and Start Discovering Requirements!)

Increase End User Adoption:

What good are analytics if they're not embraced by the end users?  The boot camp offers invaluable guidance on boosting end user adoption. By sprinkling your analytics with the right magic dust, you'll captivate and engage even the most skeptical employees, creating a data-driven culture that drives results. (See our blog, Stop Spreadsheet Anarchy)

Tying Analytic Initiatives to Strategic Goals:

Analytic initiatives should never exist in a vacuum.  At the boot camp, you'll become a strategic goal mastery expert.  You'll learn how to tie your analytic initiatives seamlessly to the strategic goals of your company, positioning yourself as the ultimate strategy sleuth.  This alignment ensures that your analytics have a direct impact on the overall success of your organization.

Networking Opportunities:

Attending the boot camp opens doors to valuable networking opportunities.  You'll have the chance to connect with fellow analytic enthusiasts, share experiences, and build professional relationships.  These connections can become allies and mentors on your journey to becoming an Analytic Guru.

Conclusion:

Investing your time in a two-day Analytic Success Boot Camp with your team is a game-changer.  It propels you into the realm of analytic leadership, ensuring your success through requirements discovery, driving end user adoption, and tying your initiatives to the strategic goals of your company.  Remember, embracing the power of fun and networking along the way adds an extra flair to your journey.  So, put on your analytics cape, step into the role of an Analytic Avenger, and unlock the true potential of your analytic initiatives.  Get ready to lead your team toward a data-driven future and achieve unparalleled success.

Take the First Step

Seating is limited for the two-day Analytic Success Boot Camp held at the IBM innovation center in Dallas on June 27-28th.   So, take the first step today and get registered!


Seating is limited!!!

Note this event is not open to GOE or IBM resellers.

Stop Spreadsheet Anarchy, Increase End User Adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics

Stop Spreadsheet Anarchy, Increase End User Adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics
Stop Spreadsheet Anarchy, Increase End User Adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics
Written by Heather L. Cole, March 1st, 2023

The number one question I get asked from our IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics customers is, “How can we increase end user adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics?”  One client made me laugh when they asked, “How do you control spreadsheet anarchy within an organization?  The ongoing trend by some is to grab large amounts of data from multiple published data sources and spin up highly customized versions of existing reports or parts of other reports.”   Spreadsheet Anarchy, what a great way to describe it.  It’s time to stop spreadsheet anarchy and increase end user adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics.

Today I’ll share a few secrets to increasing end user adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics.

Listen to End Users Challenges

The first step to solving spreadsheet anarchy is to understand why end users are not using the tools you are providing.  When you stop telling them to use Cognos or Planning Analytics and start listening to their challenges and why they feel the tools are not meeting their needs, you will discover the cause.  In our experience the cause is one or more of the following:

  •  the end users were not properly trained on Cognos or Planning Analytics.
  • clients are on an outdated release and the functionality they seek is in a new release.
  • the data they seek has not been incorporated into Cognos or Planning Analytics.
  • functionality has been restricted by administrators.

Share the WHY!

After you listen to their challenges and why they are using spreadsheets, it’s important to share the WHY.  Why is it important that they use the tools you provide?  Is it that you want to ensure everyone is working from the validated and secured data?  If so, share what happens when decisions are made on bad data.  Is it to eliminate the errors that spreadsheets are prone to having?  We recommend you create a list of why you need your users to standardize and make sure your team knows how to communicate the message.

Engage Users in The Creation (WORKSHOPS)

It’s been long proven that people support and embrace what they create.  A fast way to increase end user adoption is to engage end users in the design and development of the solution.  I know you may be thinking whoa that would be nuts, they don’t know how to create reports or models.  But hear me out, you don’t need them to create the Cognos reports or Planning Analytics models, you need to let them discuss the business goals they are tasked with achieving and the challenges they are facing.  The best way to do this is by hosting workshops.  Workshops can be held live, in person, or virtually via zoom.  If you are not familiar with workshops check out or blog on Discovering Requirements.

Continuous Training of New Functionality

The next step to increase end user adoption of analytics is to provide continuous training.  Do you see that?  CONTINUOUS!  IBM keeps adding new functionality to the software and end users typically only really learn what they need to use at the time.  So, it’s important to provide continuous training and workshop opportunities for your end users.  Consider building a training program internally.  If you need help with training, here’s a link to how Lodestar Solutions can help. 

IBM Infusing AI & Improve Self Reliance

IBM has done a great job of working to help increase end user adoption of Cognos and Planning Analytics as well.  They have done this in a number of ways.

Better In Application Help

Do you remember the day of the Red Books?  They were guides to help you use Cognos.  Or maybe you purchased the big, IBM Cognos TM1 The official Guide, and had it on your desk.  Lugging that around was a good workout. 

IBM Cognos TM1 The official Guide

Today IBM has incorporated the details you need into their in application help and search.  This empowers end users to try new things and feel more confident using the solutions.

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

IBM has incorporated NLP capabilities in Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics, which enables users to ask questions in natural language (normal words) and get answers in a human-like response.  This allows for more intuitive and user-friendly interactions with the software.

Predictive Analytics

One of the coolest things we are seeing from IBM is the integration of  predictive analytics capabilities into Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics.  This allows users to forecast trends and identify patterns in data.  This is especially useful for Planning Analytics users that want to leverage the data to forecast out the future.  The result is end users can make more informed decisions and optimize their business strategies.

Cognitive Computing

Did you notice IBM changed the name of their products again?  Cognos is now IBM Cognos Analytics with Watson, and TM1 became Planning Analytics, and is now IBM Planning Analytics with Watson.  Well, it was not just the marketing team being creative.  IBM has incorporated cognitive computing and Watson technologies into Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics.  This includes the use of machine learning algorithms and other advanced analytics techniques to automate data analysis and decision-making processes.

Intelligent Automation

IBM has introduced greater automation capabilities in Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics, which allows for the automation of routine data tasks such as data preparation, cleansing, and transformation.  Automation is the key to increasing productivity, so look at where you are spending time doing repetitive tasks and see if you can automate it.  This will give you time to focus on more complex data analysis and strategic decision-making.  (Cognos Automation)

Cognos SDK

For Cognos users the IBM Software Development Kit (SDK) is used to automate many tasks.  But what a lot of users don’t know is IBM includes the Cognos SDK in the Admin license.  This has not always been the case.  You used to need to buy a separate license.  Here’s our very old blog, where we informed everyone of this change. 

The Answer

We can all agree it’s time to stop spreadsheet anarchy and increase end user adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics.  The first step is to create a Plan that includes engaging with your end users.  I am a huge fan of workshops because they can align the teams and build camaraderie even if done virtually.  Keep an eye out, Lodestar will be sharing more on hosting workshops soon.

If you are on an old release of Planning Analytics or Cognos, it’s probably time to upgrade.  Lodestar solutions can help you plan your upgrade and provide technical services and training for your team.  For more information email services@lodestarsolutions.com.

How To Do An Amazing Software Demo

11/3/2016

How To Do An Amazing Software Demo


Have you ever felt like you are presenting a really cool solution in your software demo yet your audience just doesn’t get it?

Even worse, you look out to the crowd to see everyone checking their email. Well, you’re not alone. To be good at presenting a software demo, you need to learn to engage the audience.

The power of your presentation skills makes the difference between success and failure when giving a software demo.

The power of your presentation skills makes the difference between success and failure. Whether you are persuading end users to use your dashboards, pitching to the executive team requesting funding for a BI or Analytics project, or training new users, it's all about having effective presentation skills.

Imagine standing in a conference room full of executives. You know you’re going crush it because you’ve learned the methods and have practiced the presentation techniques/skills of the masters.

Tips To Get You Started Today

As a business analytics professional, your job is designing and developing business intelligence solutions such as dashboards that executives love. However, designing and developing is not enough! Isn’t your goal to have a high rate of end user adoption especially from the executives? The secret is to wow them with your presentation skills. After 25 years of presenting and coaching people how to do an amazing software demo, I’ve learned some tips you can use

4 Tips to Rock your Software Demo:

1. Practice - To be candid, most people are not born with great presentation skills. I often hear stories regarding clients planning for a software demo for their new dashboards or other business intelligence solution. They are giving it to the executive team so I contact them to see if they are prepared. Their response is, “Yes the dashboards look really good and they are completely tested.” When I ask if they have created a plan and practiced the presentation, they are like a deer in headlights. They continue to explain that they had no plan to practice. They were just going to show up and demonstrate the features and functionality.

Remember...Proper Practice Makes Perfect

Not planning and practicing your presentation is arguably the biggest mistake you can make, not just for your project, but for you professionally. If you are doing a software demonstration for the executives, this is your time to shine! Time to get noticed! Without practicing your presentation, you might get noticed in a negative way. Working in presales and giving software demonstrations for over 25 years, I know that I still need to take the time and practice!

One of the best ways to practice is to record yourself then play it back. Watch it as if you were in the audience. Note areas that need to be tweaked then work on them. I believe strongly that a good presentation helps increase end user adoption because it gets them excited. If it’s a really important presentation, you may want to engage a business analytics coach that has a presales background for coaching. (For information on this email us at coaching@lodestarsolutions.com).

Sit Down And Let Me Tell You A Story...

2. Storytelling (Don't show feature functionalities) - The most common mistake I see in giving software demonstrations is what I call “Show Up & Throw Up”. Even professional presales people at large software companies are guilty of this. They want to show every bell and whistle in the software. Have you ever witnessed a “Show Up & Throw Up” software demo? It’s very painful to watch. Typically, the audience will start checking their smart phones 5 minutes into it.

The secret to giving an amazing software demonstration is to tell an engaging story. Identify the pain of your audience. What can’t they do today? Is there information they find challenging to get rapidly? Your job is to tell the story of where they are today and how your solution solves their problem. You want to show them how easy it is to use the dashboards or BI reports. Showing every field of feature will not add value. It will make it look complex. The less mouse clicks you have in your demo the better. I am also a big fan of analogies to communicate complex points. Therefore, create a storyline around the pain, data, and solution all the while engaging them in the story.

"Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady" - The Three Times Method

3. The Three Times Method - I believe, as a presenter, you are the tour guide. To do an amazing software demonstration, you will need to engage, educate, and entertain your audience. The challenge is that your audience, especially the executive team, often has a very short attention span. Chances are you will lose them at some point in the presentation. They will begin thinking about something on their appointment calendar which needs to get done.

Your job as the tour guide is to bring them back into the present when their brains wander. To improve your presentation skills, you want to follow a proven method that I call the "Three Times Method". It’s easy but rarely followed unless you have been coached. You are going to explain in a summary format what you are demonstrating three times.

a. Tell them what you are going to show them - This should be in a story format. What pain are you solving, what are the benefits to the organization, and what are the benefits to them personally?
b. Show them - Demonstrate the solution reiterating the pain you just solved as you go through the story. Remember less is more! There’s a saying in software sales. When they say “Yes we love it”, you wrap it up and shut up! The more you show after that point, the more confusion you can create. You may have prepared a lot more but please remember that time is a valuable commodity. If you give them time back in their schedule, they will have a positive impression of you. Let us give you one more bonus tip for the presentation. When you screw up or if the system crashes, don't highlight the error! Most of the people will not notice the situation unless you, yourself, start highlighting it. I hate when people giving that are giving a software demo stop and highlight errors saying, "it worked yesterday...".
c. Tell them what you showed them - This is your summary wrap up to reiterate how easy and effective your solution is to solve their pain.

Be Prepared Just Like The Boy Scouts Said!

4. Prepare the environment - Don’t just assume the room is set and everything will work! You have a set amount of time to engage your audience. You don’t want to waste any time if the project doesn’t work, the markers are dried up, or the internet ports are blocked without help getting to your system. Take some time the day before to double check that you can connect from the room in which you will be presenting. Make sure it has a good speaker phone if people will be remote. This is your party! Your time to shine! Make sure the environment is set.

I know you don’t think you are a sales person, but you are! You are selling your work and yourself. Studying how to do an amazing software demonstration, practicing, and getting a business analytics coach will absolutely help your career. But more than that, it will increase the end user adoption of business intelligence and analytics in your organization. So what are you waiting for? Here are a couple of other great blogs you may want to check out on giving a software demo:

5 Tips to Make your Next Software Demo More Interesting

Give a Great Product Demo: 5 Rules

Software Presentations to Promote: Increase Your Software Demonstration Skills

How to Rock Your Next Software Demonstration!!!

This Should Be Your Next Step...

There are so many other tips we would like to share with you! We have created a video that will give you these proven tips and more on how to do an amazing software demonstration. Using these additional tips can not only increase end user adoption but make you look like a rock star within your organization with your presentation skills.

To get access to this video which teaches valuable presentation skills, you just need to join our NO COST Cognos Analytics Club. Click THIS LINK now to join.

Provide your name, email and create a password. Once you join the club you will get immediate access to our library of education videos. You will find my “How to do a Great Software Demo” video under Professional High Performance Techniques. As a member, you can return to the Analytics Coaching Club library at any time to see other videos by just visiting our website www.lodestarsolutions.com. Click the login button in the top right corner and you are back in.

If you are looking for other high performance techniques, our business analytics coaches provide one on one or group coaching session to help increase your productivity. For more information, email coaching@lodestarsolutions.com.
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