At Microsoft leaders across the company have committed to fostering a data culture and are often asked how to drive this type of change. An internal program designed to drive adoption of Power BI internally has been at the center of this cultural shift.
Through a combination of training, a comprehensive communication strategy, and user-centric features and design, BI@Microsoft drives adoption of Microsoft data culture with Power BI. This program enables Microsoft employees to use data visualization, business intelligence and statistical analysis in their day-today jobs. Employees were previously limited by a mindset that they didn’t have the technical skills or time necessary to model data. Or they thought the data was not available or accessible. The BI@Microsoft program has proven that data driven decisions are possible at every level of the organization, while also creating loyal fans that influence their teams to use data to make informed decisions.
As Microsoft’s “First and Best” customer, Microsoft employees have the responsibility and privilege to be the first people in the world to use Microsoft products in production. With Power BI, Microsoft is not only the first customer, but because of the reach and scale of the company, they are a great example of an active and engaged global Power BI user bases.
BI@Microsoft is a program inside Microsoft IT which is responsible for the BI tools Microsoft employees use. They are responsible for two key things, driving rapid internal adoption of Power BI and influencing the Power BI product group so that it builds a product that meets the needs of large enterprise customers like Microsoft. This virtuous feedback cycle ensures Microsoft build better products for their external customers.
The purpose of this blog post is to explain how Microsoft drives adoption of Power BI at scale so that you can learn from their best practices and implement a similar method. That way you too can get the most value out of your Power BI licenses. Like you, Microsoft is always striving do more with less. For that reason, their program is focused on reaching and influencing the behavior of employees at scale.
The BI@Microsoft program uses basic principles of change management to enable change inside the company. They focus on different activities based on the product lifecycle and recent updates. Microsoft might start the cycle over again when promoting a big new feature. The principles drive the following behaviors:
- Awareness—Employees are aware of the product and its features
- Understanding—Employees understand the benefits of the product and its features
- Enablement—Employees learn or know how to use the product and its features
- Adoption—Employees use the product regularly
Microsoft manages their program in what they call workstreams. They’ve found this way of structuring the work very effective, and Microsoft thinks it will be easy for you to see what applies to your situation. They will briefly explain each of the workstreams, and you can determine which of them are most appropriate for your company to help you get the most value out of Power BI.
Here is a list of all Microsoft workstreams, a description of each, and examples of tasks and goals that may apply to an external company. They will limit this discussion only to the activities that a company outside of Microsoft would benefit from.
- Strategy and Program Management
- Power BI Subject Matter Expert (SME)
- Service & Support
- Social & Community
- Reporting & Telemetry
This illustration summarizes all the worktracks and prioritizes which to focus on first.
Strategy and Program Management: The Microsoft leadership team determines the strategy of the program and provides overall program management. This workstream aligns the program strategy to drive adoption of Power BI to your corporate BI and data strategy. If you don’t have a corporate BI or data strategy, this is a great opportunity to determine one. At Microsoft, they were fortunate that the launch of Power BI aligned with their CIO’s drive to foster a Microsoft data-driven culture within Microsoft. Activities include but are not limited to:
- Obtaining executive sponsorship and communicating it
- Aligning program goals to corporate goals
- Planning strategy and execution, and measuring the program
- Obtaining program resources and budget
- Managing all the other workstreams
Power BI Subject Matter Expert (SME): For the program to succeed, at least one person in the program must be a Power BI subject matter expert (SME). This person (or persons) is a BI professional with deep experience and knowledge of how the company uses BI, and helps the program make all decisions related to Power BI usage inside the company. Activities include but are not limited to:
- Understanding Power BI and how your company will use it
- Continually learning and keeping current with the Power BI roadmap and features
- Sharing knowledge about Power BI roadmap and features with the program and the company
- Power BI content and timing for all other workstreams
- Liaising with Power BI product group and Microsoft on behalf of your company
- Advising the program and employees on features, timing, training
- Vetting or creating content to publish through all workstreams
- Planning and executing any early adoption and testing programs for employees
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