Increasing Tableau Server User Adoption: It All Starts with Awareness


Increasing Tableau Server User Adoption: It All Starts with Awareness

In this series, our team unpacks how to boost user adoption of Tableau Server through strategic planning, enablement and quality control.

Build it and they will come. Well, not always. Unfortunately, people cannot adopt a new tool if they are not even aware of it. So the first question is: how do we make everyone aware of a new tool, and for that matter, what even is “knowing”? Woah, woah woah … Before we get stuck in deep philosophy, I just mean it’s not enough to say, “Hey, we have Tableau now.” People need to really know its purpose and what it can do for them.

Don’t Just Tell Them. Show Them

Some of the ways to reach everyone are email blasts, showing off a new dashboard in a company meeting or presentation and putting banners or posts in common tools the company uses. If your company has an internal intranet or a CRM, you can (and should) utilise this to your advantage. Also, please remember this is not a check-box exercise; once is not enough. Do not be afraid to remind users often, and the more directly relevant your examples and demo, the more people are going to take notice. There is a place for showing a really flashy infographic-like visual on Tableau Public, but people will really catch on when they see their own data being visualised effectively.

Three Steps When Phasing in a New Tool

With one client, we developed a simple three-step method when switching to Tableau. There were more things bubbling behind the scenes, but these stages stood out the most for our users:

  1. Inform – We used email blasts for this step, but we also hosted “lunch-and-learn” demo sessions. This was not just to inform users but also to sneakily identify who our champions and evangelists were.
  2. Optional Link – They used an internal tool where users would log in and navigate to a few areas they cared about in order to see the numbers they needed, like viewing out-of-date tickets or finding out if they were nearing set thresholds. On each of these, we had the site replaced with Tableau but provided a go-back link at the top to view the interface in its classic version, and we included a warning that it would be replaced in a set period of time. We also had a feedback window here. This was designed to get users to tell us what the new tool didn’t do compared to the old or what they wanted.
  3. Replace – Finally, we cut ties with the old system. The link was removed. We kept the feedback form, though!

Finding Evangelists and Champions

At the heart of nearly all successful deployments are evangelists and champions who can help drive user adoption at more of a grass-roots level. The challenge here is to find and recognise them and then empower them to have maximum impact. Champions can be challenging to define as there is not a set archetype of a champion. They don’t have to be the most gifted users in the organisation, but they frequently have qualities which are often overlooked and undervalued. However, they often have several of the following traits:

  • Insight and intuition – making connections and seeing beyond the problem presented
  • Pioneers – often found listening, observing and then questioning
  • Connectors – they have a (basic) working knowledge of what’s out and what’s possible. They are then able to effectively connect different groups to solve a problem. Gravitate towards collaboration
  • Gregarious – Infectious, energising, approachable, noisy, empathetic, produce, drive and motivate others naturally. Storytellers

The best part of your champions is that they often emerge naturally. You don’t need to go and tap someone on the shoulder. This is a case where “if you build it, they will come” actually holds up. Champions are early adopters. They are vocal. These users will test the new product, and they will come find the team and try to volunteer their efforts or offer assistance.

Empowering People Leads to Powerful Organisations

In our experience, you get wonderfully impactful results by enabling these users at all costs.  Empowering those who are most eager, who can have the largest impact, and who can drive and lead others will have a lasting effect on your organisation. If you want to know more about champions, have a look at Tableau’s Data Champions program, and keep an eye out for a blog on champions based on InterWorks’ experience and research.

Come back next week for another installment in our series on Tableau Server user adoption.

More About the Author

Carl Slifer

Analytics Consultant
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