Why Knowledge Transfer is the Key to Effective BI Education Today

I was recently at one of my favorite places, the British Museum in London, viewing the Egyptian galleries. It does not matter how often I go there, I always seem to see something I have never noticed before. This time it was a wooden statue of a goddess giving praise. Although it was over 4,000 years old, it was beautifully carved. The artist was talented and knew how to use his tools effectively.

Creating Business Intelligence solutions also requires talented people who know how to effectively use BI tools. While BI vendors put so much effort into selling you their tools, they neglect, for the most part, teaching you how to use them effectively. This often results in mediocre and poorly adopted BI solutions and organizations left wondering why they spent so much money on this supposedly amazing BI software.

Today it’s not so much the BI tool that is important (as they can all do similar things), it is the developer who creates the solution. Yet most organizations spend so little on training.

Some BI vendors claim that their tools are so easy to use that you don’t need any training. While that’s a great software selling line, it simply is not true. Sure, tools like Web Intelligence, SAP BO Dashboards and even Tableau are very graphic and have intuitive interfaces but without training you are likely to learn less than 15% to the tools functionality and produce mediocre results at best.

In fact, it is quite common to see most organizations using less than 20% of the functionality  of their BI tools, simply because they have not invested in training their developers or have farmed out the development to offshore consultants, who also have had limited training.

So why is training so low on the totem pool in most organizations?

There are many reasons, but the most common is that a lot of organizations have not seen great results with their previous training experiences.

Many BI training courses particularly from the BI vendors themselves or professional education companies tend to be basic and generic training in order to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. This often results in what could have been covered in a day being stretched out over two or three days. People come back from these courses without a great deal of advanced knowledge on the tool.

The best type of training for most people is hands-on with lots of real world exercises so you learn as you do. In fact, InfoSol created a service many years ago, called “Knowledge Transfer Consulting” which remains highly popular. It consists of an experienced BI consultant working hands-on with a small group of people (1-4 works best) and guiding them through the usage of a tool like Web Intelligence, IDT or SAP BO Dashboards (Xcelsius).

The learners drive and the consultant navigates and guides. This form of consulting training is not just highly effective but can be delivered in less than half the time of conventional training.

InfoSol took the concept of knowledge transfer and applied it to our offerings at IBIS by creating modular Hands-on training boot camps. These boot camps condense key topics of a tool like Web Intelligence Into 2-hours hands on knowledge transfer sessions. This allows attendees to pick just the topics they need or want to learn and skip the ones they don’t.

There is little point in investing in a BI tool today, unless you are also prepared to invest in training for your people on how to use it effectively.

Moreover, if you feel you have not seen a return on investment on a BI tool you purchased 5, 10 or even 15 years ago, you need to look at investing in some effective training for that tool now. The good news is, it’s not too late.

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