In a Gartner study published a little more than a year ago, researchers predicted an increase in investments in big data technology and projects. Indeed, business intelligence/analytics/big data are the top investment priority for CIOs today, according to a February 2015 report by the research firm.

In two recent articles, the authors note that in order for companies to acquire the game-changing insight that big data promises, they need to place as much or more importance on ensuring that their employees know how to use the technology.

In a Feb. 23 ReadWrite article, Matt Asay, Adobe’s VP of mobile, writes that big data may be the catalyst for change, but it will take “Big Insights from real people” to deliver value.

If, while investing in big data infrastructure, companies also invest in data visualization tools offered by companies like Tableau, Roambi and Zoomdata, they will enable their employees to understand the data and do more with it.[1] After all, Asay writes, “… your employees are ultimately the ones who make sense of your data.”

Data visualization

Data visualization tools (like Tableau’s, pictured) aim to help people see and understand their data. Click to enlarge.

In yesterday’s Harvard Business Review, Lori Sherer, a partner with the management consulting firm Bain & Company, makes a case for using gamification to encourage adoption of complex analytics tools. Gamification is the application of game elements and game design techniques to non-game challenges.

Analytics tools are often complex and accompanied by a steep learning curve, which doesn’t make user adoption an easy task. User adoption of analytics — the “people factor” — is important, Sherer writes. “Analytics can help codify the logic of the best decision makers, but it can’t replace human judgment.”


[1] Companies are collecting so much data, they are finding it difficult to make sense of it all. As a result, the data visualization tools market has exploded. For a look at 20 of the top-rated tools, see Blu Frame’s review.

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