Celebrate the Small Stuff Along the Road to BI Maturity

Wherever your organization is on its business intelligence journey, I hope you’ll take the time to celebrate success whenever and wherever it happens.

My son recently finished kindergarten, his first year of public education. His mother and I were invited, along with the other parents, to a special end-of-year party to celebrate.

I learned from my son’s kindergarten teacher the importance of celebrating small steps of progress. There are lessons here for business intelligence teams and I’ve written some observations in the Business Intelligence Community on the SAP Community Network.

Wherever your organization is on its business intelligence journey, I hope you’ll take the time to celebrate success whenever and wherever it happens.

Read Celebrate the Small Stuff Along the Road to BI Maturity on the SAP Community Network.

Do the KIND Thing by Daniel Lubetzky

Are you doing the KIND thing at the office?

Do the KIND Thing by Daniel Lubetzky describes the ten principles the author has instilled into the culture of KIND Snacks as the organization’s founder and CEO. The book also shares the history of KIND Snacks, from its inception to a major player in the healthy snack industry.

Do the Kind Thing

The key principle, and the first one described in the book, is “Thinking with AND”. The “AND principle” is about making a choice to use “and” instead of “or”. So instead of creating a snack bar that tasted good or one that was healthy, KIND created a snack bar that tasted good “AND” was healthy. KIND has developed a unique product- one made with “ingredients you can see and pronounce”, one that uses whole ingredients instead of less expensive ingredients ground into a paste, and one that uses transparent packaging to “show off” the quality of the product. Of course, these once-innovative features are now being copied (with varying degrees of success) by KIND’s competitors, anxious to slow the momentum of the young upstart. Not only is the product offering unique, but so is the company culture, inspiring customers to share simple acts of kindness through its KIND Movement and donating a portion of company profits to KIND Causes.

In addition to the “AND principle”, the book describes purpose, grit, truth and discipline, keeping it simple, originality, transparency and authenticity, empathy, trust, and ownership and resourcefulness. Mr. Lubetzky openly shares failure just as much as success, making the book both a better “how-to” as well as a more interesting read. The author’s success at KIND was prefaced by a decade of struggle at his other venture, PeaceWorks. His “wilderness experience” reminded me of another famous CEO, Steve Jobs, whose experience at Next, Inc. was necessary for him to be successful on his return to Apple.

As we brainstormed about our brand name and mission, we rallied around a concept that could affirm our three anchors of health, taste, and social responsibility: being KIND to your body, KIND to your taste buds, and KIND to your world. Focusing on kindness stemmed from my belief, which I inherited from my parents, that kindness to others can build trust, and ultimately, bridges between people.

Daniel Lubetzky, reflecting on “purpose” in Do The Kind Thing, page 25.

The KIND mission is similar to the mission of a business intelligence competency center (BICC). We strive to be KIND to our business users, KIND to the IT staff that supports us, and KIND to the organization, whose mission we wish to further with actionable business intelligence. These three goals are often at odds with each other and difficult to hold together. In practice, they are frequently joined together with the word “or” instead of “and”. The AND principle isn’t an easy one, but adhering to it can inspire us to push forward to breakthrough results.

Coincidentally, Disney-Pixar recently launched a trailer for its forthcoming film, The Good Dinosaur, with the taglines “A single moment can change history” and “A single kindness can change everything”.

 

 

Do the KIND thing for your business intelligence competency center and read this inspiring book. You wouldn’t go amiss enjoying a tasty KIND bar as you read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I borrowed a copy of this book from a public library and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business

What can BI managers learn from the restaurant business? Plenty.

I’ve never eaten in one of Danny Meyer’s restaurants, but I did have my first Shake Shack burger during a 2011 trip to New York City to teach classes on SAP BusinessObjects administration. In honor of Shake Shack’s recent IPO (see SHAK quote on Yahoo Finance), I found a copy of Danny Meyer’s Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business at Half Price Books (ISBN 978-0060742751).

Service is the technical delivery of a product. Hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes its recipient feel. Service is a monologue— we decide how we want to do things and set our own standards for service. Hospitality , on the other hand, is a dialogue. To be on a guest’s side requires listening to that person with every sense, and following up with a thoughtful, gracious, appropriate response.

Danny Meyer in Setting the Table

Shake Shack Vegas 2015

In our zeal pursuing “self-service business intelligence”, we’ve often left users on their own, without any helpful assistance at all. Is it any surprise that software vendors are responding with both client and server solutions that business users can install and support themselves?

Shake Shack Los Vegas 2015

Mr. Meyer offers an interesting perspective on hiring. The Union Square Hospitality Group looks for 51 percenters, regardless of whether its hiring a dishwasher, server, or chef. Ideal candidates have 51 percent emotional hospitality and 49 percent technical excellence. Mr. Meyer offers 5 attributes to look for when hiring your own 51 percenters.

The overarching concern to do the right thing well isn’t something we can’t train for. Either it’s there or it isn’t. So we need to train how to hire for it.

Even excellent employees make mistakes, and Mr. Meyer offers a chapter entitled “The Road to Success is Paved with Mistakes Well Handled” and provides some excellent tips about going the next mile and “writing the last chapter” on a guest’s less than stellar experience.

Shake Shack Vegas 2015 01 600

Business users aren’t accustomed to getting hospitality from their IT department. Most, sadly, aren’t accustomed to even getting good service. But an effective Business Intelligence Competency Center must aim for a higher standard. You may be wondering what a book about restaurants can teach you about business intelligence, but I believe successful BI managers will be inspired to write lots of notes in the margins as they read this book.

And plan a trip to the Shake Shack.

IMPORTANT! If you’re headed to SAP Insider’s BI 2015 and HANA 2015 conferences in Las Vegas, there’s a Shake Shack right around the corner.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I borrowed a copy of this book from a public library and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Teavana Experience

The Teavana Experience is the antithesis of the Starbucks Experience.

Teavana teapot

Last year at the 2012 ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conference, I gave a presentation entitled Secrets of a Business Intelligence Barista. In it, I made the case for Business Intelligence Competency Center, or BICC, being as customer-friendly and service-oriented as a neighborhood Starbucks. Just as Starbucks describes their stores as a “third place” between home and work. I shunned the traditional definitions of a Business Intelligence Competency Center and instead described it as follows:

The business intelligence competency center is a third place between the cubicle and corporate IT that provides a collaborative environment to solve business challenges and align execution to organizational strategy.

If you couldn’t tell, I like Starbucks a lot. I visit one at the beginning of nearly every work day. I try to read every article or book I can about their organization (see related book reviews). Early this year, I became a shareholder. So shortly after Starbucks purchased the tea retailer Teavana, my wife and I visited one for the first time.

Sadly, the Teavana experience was the antithesis of the Starbucks experience.

The high-pressure purchasing experience was so miserable, I nearly walked out of the store without purchasing any tea. But curiosity as a shareholder got the best of me, so I let the experience play out. The store employee pushed really hard to sell me way more tea than I wanted as well as an expensive tin to keep it in. When I got home and angrily Googled about the “Teavana Experience,” I found out that my experience was not isolated. I’ve included some links below if you’re interested in reading more.

If only I had Googled before going into the store instead of after. As you can see, I tweeted about my Teavana Experience back in May and it’s taken me a few months to collect my thoughts and relate my Teavana Experience to business intelligence.

Unfortunately, our users can interact with the BICC expecting a “Starbucks Experience” only to walk away with a disappointing “Teavana Experience”. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s look at three ways our BICC team can turn a Teavana Experience back into a Starbucks Experience.

The tea users brew “at home” doesn’t taste like the store samples

At Teavana, there’s never a sample that just contains one variety of tea – it’s always two. And the tea is brewed much stronger in the store than the typical consumer will brew at home. But the result is frequently that a customer cannot replicate the taste of the in-store experience. Similar situations occur in business intelligence when a tool isn’t as easy to use or as flexible as it appeared either during the vendor’s demo. This situation can also occur over time as turnover in the user community erodes the original population of users that received training.

Opportunity: improve user adoption through increased education- both at time of delivery and on a periodic basis such as an internal user group.

Users end up spending more time and money than originally budgeted- and still don’t get what they want

At Teavana, customers who wish to only sample a few ounces of tea are bullied into taking a whole pound. And an expensive tin to keep it in. In my experience, the new trainee that was so helpful showing my wife and I around the store was forbidden to ring us up at the counter. And afterwards, I can see why. He undoubtedly had not yet been brainwashed in the art of increasing the amount of the sale. This sensation can occur with business intelligence projects, particularly when a traditional waterfall design methodology is used. Business users articulate requirements, IT labors over those requirements in near isolation, and the finished product- whether delivered on time or not- doesn’t effectively solve the users’ business problem. Then the finger pointing begins.

Opportunity: Agile methodologies. Beware- going agile can be radical shift both for users and for IT.

Customers are angry after a negative personal encounter with staff

During my first and only Teavana experience, I grew increasingly frustrated at the checkout counter as the Teavana employee kept trying new and innovative ways to increase the amount of the sales transaction. I reached a point where I was ready to halt the purchase and simply walk out of the store. I left the store vowing never to return again. So far, I’ve kept my promise. And I’ve seen no signs from Starbucks that they’ve redesigned the customer experience at Teavana. Instead, the company seems to be focusing on its other acquisitions like La Boulange and Evolution Fresh. Perhaps- like me- the executives at Starbucks have buyers remorse over Teavana.

Opportunity: Train BICC support staff in customer service skills. No budget? Take a team field trip to Starbucks. And as you’re sitting at a table sipping lattes, discuss as a team what makes the Starbucks experience special. Was there an unhappy customer during your visit and how were they treated? There’s many lessons that your team can learn from friendly baristas in green aprons. Include customer service skills in the hiring and review processes.

Coda (9:00 PM on 10/23/2013):

How ironic that the day I finally post this article that Starbucks announces the grand opening of a Teavana tea bar in New York City.

 

Links about The Teavana Experience

Have you had a Teavana experience at your local shopping mall? While interacting with your organization’s business intelligence competency center? Both?

Business Intelligence Competency Centers

Book review of Business Intelligence Competency Centers

Business Intelligence Competency Centers by SAS/Wiley 2006Business Intelligence Competency Centers: A Team Approach to Maximizing Competitive Advantage by Gloria J. Miller, Dagmar Bräutigam, Stefanie V. Gerlach et. al. (ISBN 0-470-04447-0) was released by SAS and Wiley in May 2006.  According to Amazon, I purchased it on August 31, 2007. So as you can see, it’s taken me some time to get around to publishing a book review.

The term “Business Intelligence Competency Center” or BICC is still in fashion after Gartner started using it nearly a decade ago.  Some organizations use the term “Center of Excellence”.  Still others coin their own acronyms that no other organizations use, just to feel special.  But amidst a sea of business intelligence and analytics books, this is the only one that exclusively tackles the creation of a BICC.

While not completely free of “SAS is the best business intelligence tool EVER” bias, the book is surprisingly vendor agnostic. The book, while cohesive, is a collection of white papers, as each chapter has its own set of authors.  The chapters include:

  1. Introduction (What is a Business Intelligence Competency Center)
  2. Business Intelligence in the Organization
  3. Primary Functions of the Business Intelligence Competency Center
  4. Planning a Business Intelligence Competency Center: Using the Information Evolution Model
  5. Human Capital
  6. Knowledge Processes
  7. Culture
  8. Infrastructure
  9. Setting Up and Ensuring Ongoing Support
  10. Cases from the Field
  11. Ten Recommendations for a Highly Effective Business Intelligence Competency Center
I like the book (though not as much as Wayne Eckerson’s) and quote from it regularly.  It contains my favorite definition of business intelligence.
Business Intelligence is defined as getting the right information to the right people at the right time.
I recently reread the book to prepare my upcoming ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conference presentation, Secrets of a Business Intelligence Barista.  The information isn’t trendy or dated— it’s held up well over the past six years— although I’m ready for the publisher to release an updated and expanded second edition. My biggest criticism of the book is that it is a bit thin (224 pages). When you find a topic of interest, you may be disappointed that the author(s) did not go deeper. This criticism is common of some of the other book reviews I read. Also, there is no bibliography.
The core organizing principle of a BICC- combining business savvy and IT savvy into a single, cohesive organization remains as controversial now as it was six years ago.  Most BICCs or similar organizations are maintained in the IT Department, which doesn’t have a stomach for business savvy folks. To many IT managers, A BICC organization chart reminds them of Jamie Oswald‘s illustration of the offspring of a white buffalo and a unicorn. Sadly, the largest obstacle to BI success in many organizations is the Great Wall of China firewall that is constructed between an organizations’ business intelligence systems and its users.
The book isn’t highly technical, so like Wayne Eckerson’s Performance Dashboards, it could be the foundation of a 12-week business intelligence book club in your organization. Its definitions and diagrams can help business savvy and tech savvy leaders in your organization create or reform its BICC.
What resources has your organization found helpful in the creation of a Business Intelligence Competency Center?

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”