It’s all about a portal that is social, discoverable, and fun.
When it comes to good knowledge management within an organization, there is no doubt that it is important to establish a centralized spot for employees to find and share information and insights. It is not unusual for companies to house multiple, unconnected analytics/BI and reporting technologies across departments - a little Power BI here, a little Tableau there. Each team may be finding value from their specific reports and dashboards, but are those insights benefitting the organization as a whole?
To truly follow best knowledge management practices and get the biggest bang for your buck on analytics investments, a centralized BI portal is essential. Companies of all sizes can benefit greatly from a common BI portal (aka, analytics portal) that connects all of the organization’s dashboard technologies and assets, serves as an incubator of knowledge and collaboration between teams and acts as a welcoming entryway into an organization’s information and insights. Unfortunately, many organizations either do not have a portal in place that serves this purpose or they have one, but it gets no traction.
A common remark I hear is “I went through a lot of effort to develop a centralized BI portal for my company, but no one is interested in using it” The reason could be either (1) the portal is not actionable or creating enough value for users, (2) B-O-R-I-N-G. Your portal isn’t engaging and exciting enough with a poor user experience or (3) not enough people are really aware of its existence or capabilities.
So, if your current BI portal consists of a company logo, mission statement, a weather widget and a few links to outdated analytics reports, then answer the phone – 2008 is calling and it wants its portal back. Your BI portal should pull users in with modern and even cutting-edge functionality and features and should be a place to maximize the use of an organization’s investment in analytical insights and dashboard assets. In order to truly get the most engaging portal possible, it’s all about stellar design and user experience – a process that involves user research, user-focused design- and then adoption through training and change management. I’ve written extensively about the dashboard design process here and here. For more of a deep-dive into the specifics of dashboard design, check out my webinar.
In this article, I want to elaborate on a few features to include in a BI portal to make the portal more relevant, timely, personal, and actionable for users. Really honing in on user needs when designing the portal will lead to better engagement and adoption of the BI portal and ultimately promote analytics-driven culture within an organization.
Social. Discoverable. Fun.In 2018, these are the keys to an engaging BI portal.
Leverage those habits of “liking, commenting and sharing” and include social features across the BI portal to boost user engagement and create buzz.
Files, reports, documents, videos and dashboards should be easy to locate.
Take a cue from the gaming world and maximize interest, engagement and adoption through gamification techniques.
It’s no secret that our culture has been obsessed with digital social engagement for going on a decade now. Leverage those habits of “liking, commenting and sharing” and include social features across the BI portal to boost user engagement and create buzz. A couple of ways to make a BI portal more social is to (1) create areas for open discussion and comments and (2) allow ratings and favorites. Social engagement and discussion about assets shown on the BI portal not only drum up interest, but the data about how users engage with the portal contribute to the improvement of the future iterations of the BI portal. Continuous improvement of a system through analysis of user feedback is an integral part of the Enterprise Dashboard Process. Social engagement also promotes cross-team collaboration and information sharing. Let’s say the marketing department has produced some impactful insights about changes in market share. If these insights are shared on the BI portal homepage, users across the company will see the insights and have the ability to “like, comment, or share”. This takes these insights out of the marketing department silo and allows them to be informative and useful across the organization.
In addition, including a real-time chat feature is also important for creating a feedback mechanism that will lead to improvements of the system over time. The chat feature connects users directly to the appropriate channel for addressing their needs. This feature is also a great way for IT, research, or UX to understand user challenges and fix any issues quickly. Another perk of the chat feature - When a new person joins the team, they can quickly get up to speed on a dashboard by reviewing the chat history.
No one wants to waste time combing through a portal looking for a particular asset. Bad portal architecture equals poor user experience and then leads to decreased user engagement. First and foremost, the navigation should be simple, uncomplicated and user friendly. Files, reports, documents, videos and dashboards should be easy to locate.
Next, it is necessary to include an instant search feature. These days, having a robust search function means the difference between user satisfaction and a frustrated “close screen”. Search must consume the tags, as one would expect, but what happens when a user doesn’t enter tags? The search feature must also index terms within the dashboards themselves.
Also, leverage the social features mentioned above by highlighting popular assets each day. Is there a certain insight about market trends that is getting a lot of buzz from the sales and marketing teams? Feature it. Did the company produce a new video explaining how upcoming regulations will affect the organization? Tag it and highlight it front-and-center for maximum exposure.
Machine learning algorithms are already being used in some BI portals for smart search functionality and personalized recommendations. I predict that in the next few years, we will begin to see machine learning used more and more to display predictive insights and personalized dashboard views.
Rewards, badges, points. Take a cue from the gaming world and maximize interest, engagement and adoption through gamification techniques. Incentivize the sharing of reports and dashboards to accelerate user adoption of current assets and new contributions by content curators. Gamification techniques encourage collaboration and user engagement. They also fulfill our basic human needs to seek rewards, and most important, they make the experience fun.
Designing a BI portal to be more social, discoverable and fun is the key to improving user adoption and continued engagement. Boosting interest and traffic to the BI portal through engaging features gives an opportunity to display an organization’s most important assets and insights and make them more actionable. As a result, the organization as a whole will become more informed and collaborative. Over time, by analyzing the portal’s user interactions and user feedback, the BI portal can be refined to adjust to changing user needs.
BI portals allow you to access all the dashboards in your organization, irrespective of technology, location, and department. Learn more here.