We're now only one day away from the grand opening of Business Analytics Forum
@ Information On Demand 2010
and before we all dive into the heady mix of breakouts, networking, demos and cocktails I wanted to present an idea that Harriet Fryman
and I have been working on for a while.
Malcolm Gladwell was last year's keynote speaker. You're probably familiar with his 2000 book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference
. He calls the book "an investigation into how and why change happens
" and identifies common attributes that must be in place for an idea, a disease or a piece of news to spread throughout a community to become pervasive.
These attributes are:
- Connectors: people with a special knack for bringing the world together and who can span many different worlds.
- Mavens: the information specialists we rely on to connect us with new information. Mavens are really information brokers, sharing and trading what they know.
- Salesmen: these are the persuaders: charismatic people with powerful negotiation skills.
Gladwell cites Paul Revere's ride and the overnight popularity of Hush Puppies as examples. But it's also a great way to think about your business analytics deployment � because your deployment needs to demonstrate all three attributes to become pervasive.
Think about it this way:
Your Connectors are the people who can cross the IT-Business or the IT-Finance divide. They are comfortable in each others' worlds, they understand the goals and cultures of both sides and can act as mediator between them. Wayne Eckerson calls them �Purple People.�
Mavens make up your core BI team. These are your professional authors, analysts, data stewards and architects who configure your deployment to serve up insights into your business.
Salesmen are your early adopters and visionaries who see the project's potential and who can convince others of it too when there may very little to go on. Very few deployments get beyond their early stages without these folks.
So. When you look at the people on your team, who do you see? More importantly � who do you not see? Mavens without Connectors have no one to share information with. Connectors without Mavens have nothing to share. With neither of these in place, Salesmen will simply find something else to sell.
It doesn't stop there. Gladwell develops his theory further with three more important dynamics. Let's look at how they can � and should � play out in your deployments.
- The Law of the Few states that a tiny proportion of people do the majority of the work. These people find out about something and through social connections and energy and enthusiasm spread the word. You need people who are willing to put in the time to spread the word about their insights.
- The Stickiness Factor states that there are relatively simple changes in the presentation and structuring of information that can make a difference in how much of an impact it makes. You need to ensure that the insights you provide immediately convey the right message. Matching the data with the right display is a crucial first step to keep people coming back to your reports.
- The Power of Context says that the key to getting people to change their behavior...sometimes lies with the smallest details of their immediate situation. Deployments take hold when you show people how the data you're providing make their daily tasks easier and make them more productive. Find the report or dashboard or plan they use every day. Make it better for them and then they'll actually use it.
Gladwell views The Tipping Point
as a way of making sense of the world. �Changes that happen really suddenly, on the strength of the most minor of input, can be deeply confusing,� he says
. People who understand it have a way of decoding the world around them.
In business it's no different. We are in a time of tremendous economic upheaval but also of tremendous opportunity. And just as Gladwell sees hope in the message of The Tipping Point
, over the next four days you will see how organizations use business analytics to decode the disruptions around them and move forward with confidence.
These are exciting times for business analytics and Business Analytics Forum is an exciting place to be. I'm looking forward to making the most of it. Whatever your goals over the next week, I hope you are able to do the same and I know we're here to help.
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