Convincing reluctant business users to adopt visualizations


After talking to many people across all different industries at the recent MicroStrategy World conference, this was my biggest takeaway: Grid is still number one for business users.

The biggest challenge IT practitioners face is trying to convince business users to view their data as a visualization, yet despite the numerous benefits, almost all the people I polled say that business users only want to view their data in a grid form. Why?

In a nutshell, the feedback I received was:

  • Business users are comfortable with grid and have been using Excel for ages
  • The idea of change is foreign to them


So how do we change the mind of a business user to want to view the data differently? My first and most important tip is: don’t rush or try to force adoption. When people are uncomfortable with change, they will shut down if they feel like they are being pressured.

Developers need to work harder to build a compelling case for data visualization and show business users the value of visualizations using their own data. You need to ensure that you fully understand the needs of the company and their use cases, and demonstrate this by taking what might otherwise seem to them a superficial solution and expanding upon the different insights they aren’t currently getting that can only be gained through visualization. You can then showcase relevant visualizations live in Visual Insight using their grids, allowing the business user to discover intuitive methods of analysis they didn’t know existed.

Only then do you drive the point home that visualizations are the best way to view the data because it provides quick insight on how an organization is performing at a glance. For example, if the business wants to do a data comparison, they can use a stacked bar graph for a quick view as to where successes and problems exist. In showcasing value to the business user by showcasing different visualizations and preaching the opportunities for quick insight, user adoption to data visualization is only natural.

Enjoyed these tips? Be sure to follow Nelson on Twitter, and Project X Ltd. on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay up to date with the latest news and thoughts from the business intelligence and data science community.

For more of our insights from World 2017, visit our World summary page.

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