In business intelligence (BI), as in life, it’s always a good idea to start at the top. Many of the CIOs interviewed for this article first rolled out dashboards and reporting and decision support tools to executives. The rationale? Get the top dogs on board and everyone else will have no choice but to follow. It’s a fail-safe way to get people to adopt new technologies, and it worked effectively at Hillman Group. Jim Honerkamp, CIO of the $380 million manufacturer, says once vice presidents, directors and managers at his company began getting phone calls from their CEO and CFO asking about information they were getting from their BI dashboards, they realized, “‘I’d better get my butt out there on the portal and start looking at these numbers because my boss is looking at them. It was that trickle-down that really started pulling people to the portal.”
But CIOs can’t unlock the full value and true potential of BI to transform businesses unless it gets to everybody in the organization. So once you’ve gotten executives to embrace BI, the next group of users to roll BI out to are salespeople. Because their job is to increase sales and because they’re often compensated on their ability to do so, they’ll be more likely to embrace any tool that will help them do just that—provided, of course, the tool is easy to use and they trust the information. Once you get them on board, you can use them to help get the rest of your organization on the BI bandwagon. They’ll serve as your evangelists, gushing about the power of the tools and how BI is improving their lives.