Who are the new consumers of data in the workplace?


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When your mission is to help companies make the most of their analytics, you have to keep an eye out for adoption rates.
And the elephant in the room is that adoption rates in the world of analytics have been consistently low. A truth that most choose to ignore, because it proves that traditional BI tools have been incapable of changing the habits of most business users.
Here at Toucan, we choose to confront the problem head on: this is why we’ve sponsored an adoption and usage report by the international consulting group, Eckerson Group.

We’ve asked them to pinpoint the best strategies to boost usage and adoption of BI and analytics. Everyone who’s interested in the way data is used in the business world should read their excellent report. You can download it right here.
Alongside their valuable recommendation, they make a puzzling discovery: the adoption rates of tools designed to help business users analyze data is still stuck at around 20%, even lower than what was previously thought.

But it’s not all bleak: they pinpoint new ways of using data that might change how BI and analytics are leveraged at work. They also show that new groups of people are more and more likely to use analytics, and that the way they use it is substantially different.

Studying these habits can tell us a lot about the future of analytics. So who are the new consumers of data and analytics in the workplace and what does it mean for your company?

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Why are adoption rates still so low?

“Really? Weʼre puzzled by the persistently low adoption rates of BI/analytics tools. On one hand, todayʼs organizations are hungry for data to fuel digital transformations, modernize supply chains, and create 360-degree views of customers. And the cloud has made BI and analytics tools easier to use, install, and maintain. Yet, the average adoption rate of tools designed to help business users query, visualize, and analyze data and share insights has been stuck around 20% for many years.”
The Eckerson Group, Strategies for Driving Adoption and Usage with BI and Analytics

This is how the Eckerson Group introduces their most recent finding in their usage and adoption report. An adoption rate of 20% is really surprising when you think, in contrast, about the overwhelming place data has come to occupy in our daily lives. From checking our fitness and health to keeping track of our screen time or spendings, most of us use data multiple times throughout the day. Most B2C apps understand that need and make their data really accessible and user-friendly. All it takes is a few clicks on our mobile phone for us to access the information we need.

For some reason, things haven’t transferred over to the world of business, where BI and analytics are ever-more complex, tailored to expert users only. As a result, most business users don’t make it a habit to rely on data to make big decisions. We’ve detailed the reasons for this state of affair in a recent ebook that you can read over here.
In their report, the Eckerson Group also highlights some “adoption killers”, such as:

  • Lack of availability or accessibility of data
  • Unreliable data
  • Rigid or complex tools that are not tailored to end user
  • Performance problems with the queries
  • Lack of proper training

Are adoption Rates telling the full story?

The situation of business analytics, The Eckerson Group tells us, is not all negative. Surprisingly, when asked if they perceived an increase in data usage, a majority of respondents said yes :

“Almost all (92%) of respondents said usage of their BI/analytics tools has increased in the past five years, with a whopping 50% saying it has “increased a lot.”


So what does it all mean? This apparent paradox can be easily explained by taking a closer look at the definition used by the Eckerson Group to build their report. To calculate the adoption rate, they’ve taken into consideration licensed users actively using BI/analytics tools, if they’re also employees. On the other hand, usage refers to licensed or unlicensed users who consume some sort of output of BI: embedded dashboards, charts and reports generated by BI/analytics tools.

This means that a new demographic of data users is on the rise. It's everyone, within a company, who wouldn't traditionally refer to a BI tool: frontline workers, store managers, line managers. But it's also external stakeholders such as customers and suppliers.

If we solely focus on employees who have a license to use a given tool, we miss a big part of the story.
In businesses everywhere, there are new ways to use and consume data that is overlooked by adoption studies. The Eckerson study also tells us that “These new usage trends are most prevalent among leading adopters of data & analytics (e.g., best-in-class companies) as well as North American companies, which are traditionally more aggressive in adopting new technologies and approaches than their European counterparts.”

If these trends are still pretty niche, the most trailblazing companies have already adopted them and they will become paramount for everyone in the coming years. Understanding who are the new users of analytics and how they use their data is key to building more data-driven companies.

embed analytics for everyone in your organization

Our aim here at Toucan has always been to democratize data across organizations. We’ve noticed that BI or analytics tools are often used by experts only, so we’ve tried to make them simpler so everyone can use them.
This is how we came up with our Guided Data Analytics platform Toucan 2.0 : from connecting to data to sharing it, every step of the analytics process is made simpler and more accessible.

But we’ve realized something else in the process: everyone who needs data in a company doesn’t necessarily have the time to log onto a dedicated platform through their desktop. No matter how easy-to-use we made these platforms. 

This is why it became paramount for us to make data available wherever our users are, instead of expecting them to come to us. 
This is particularly true of operational workers who need by-the-minute information to do their job. They don’t have the time to log into complex platforms and study dashboards. They need to find data available to them in an environment that is already familiar.
Embedding dashboards into ERP or CRM applications, portals, and websites they already use is the best way to ensure they use data regularly.
This is something that best-in-class company already do, according to the Eckerson Report :
“Best-in-class companies also outpace laggards in getting 50% or more of all employees to use embedded analytics. Overall, best-in-class companies have 50.5% of employees using embedded analytics while laggards only have 18%.”

embedding for external stakeholders

If embedding is the best way to make sure data reaches everyone in your company, it can do more than that: increasingly, companies are discovering they can become more efficient by providing data to external stakeholders. Building a more data-driven company doesn’t just mean making sure everyone within your organization uses data, it also means making sure you share data across your organization.
Here are some ways it can be beneficial:

  • By providing updated data to your customers on your website or a dedicated portal, you can boost customer loyalty, satisfaction, and engagement.
  • By providing data to your suppliers in a dedicated portal, you can ensure smooth communication and optimize operations.
  • By embedding data for the general public, you can make important information about CSR public or share important results and information in support of your communication effort.

The ways we use data at work are constantly evolving

This is something that every data-driven company out there already knows. It's no longer just experts or managers who consume data. It's important that data be put in the hands of everyone who needs it. From operational workers to suppliers, from customers to frontline workers, new users are using data in new ways.

Asking users to log onto a specific platform is no longer the only way to go: new ways of using data are constantly in the rise in the workplace. It's important to adapt to them.


Get the report

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