In the last post, we introduced the problem of healthcare provider organizations who have sophisticated business intelligence tools and forays into advanced analytics, yet they still have individuals in the organization who can’t get basic volumes and who often become critics of the EDW/BI effort. We discussed one of the reasons for this, which was that the team moved on too quickly from the basics on to more interesting and exciting things. This time we’ll tackle the other reason organizations with strong BI and analytics still have underserved groups among them: poor or no marketing.
If you are a BI developer, data warehouse data architect, or data analyst, chances are there was a time in your life when you looked at the career opportunities ahead of you, and you made a (probably very easy for most of you) choice to pursue technical exploits such as statistics, data management, and programming instead of “fluffier”, more subjective endeavors such as poetry, fashion design, and, yes, marketing. You thought as you entered your field you could succeed merely by gaining really good technical skills and then keeping your head down and producing high-quality output. To be sure, this approach can take you a long way in the field, and with the right team around you it can work out swimmingly. However if the whole team is just like you and has no patience for things like marketing, you can find yourself losing favor with your customers and competing against snazzy point solutions that your ostensibly underserved departments keep bringing in.
So like it or not, your awesome analytics and BI solutions are only awesome if people know about them. And it’s not enough for a few people to know about them – you need to be proactive in getting the word out about the new ad-hoc query tool that lets people quickly and easily define their patient population and get basic counts and amounts. Or if you build a surgery dashboard for one hospital in your system but it works in other hospitals, get out there and show it to the other hospitals too. In short, you need a marketing plan and you need to stick to it. The more users of your solutions means more fans of your solutions, and that leads to less criticism and fewer surprise analytics tools being purchased by underserved departments.
But what do we mean by “marketing” in the context of business intelligence, data warehousing, and analytics? Here are some suggestions:
- Take your show on the road – whether it is to departments in your hospital or hospitals and clinics within your system, a road show is a great way to get to know your customers and share with them what is available to them (especially if it is a metadata tool that they can use to find what is available themselves in the future)
- Regular webinars – Get a monthly meeting on the calendar and invite your customers to log in to hear what is new and exciting: find a good mix of training, what’s new, and show-and-tell presentations from customers themselves (expert tip: Friday afternoons may not be the best choice)
- Newsletters – Share with your constituents what is new and highlight something that they may not know exists via regular email communications (hint: work with your marketing and communications department to make something that actually looks good)
- One-on-one – When we think of marketing, we tend to think of mass-market communications, but one-on-one meetings are the best way to clear up confusion and help your customers find exactly what they need
The bottom line is this: if you don’t plan for marketing, it won’t happen. We’re all just too busy. Develop a marketing plan to force you and your team to get out of your cubicles and help your organization get the fullest benefit from their investment in business intelligence and analytics. In other words, act now!