Analytics Migration Series: Anticipating Business User Reaction

 Dell’s SAS migration began shortly after we acquired the advanced analytics product Statistica. Within weeks, we had decided to move all of the company’s analytics users from SAS to Statistica. After assessing how the migration would affect employees, the next challenge was to get everyone on board.

 

Change can be daunting, especially when it involves embracing unfamiliar technology to accomplish daily tasks. Our main strategy for getting employees on board was to replace fear of an unknown product with curiosity about how best to accomplish analytical tasks with it.

 

Download the e-book, “Statistica: The Great Analytics Migration"

 

Understanding the Reactions

You don’t expect any sweeping change to be widely met with open arms and high-fives, so we were certainly prepared to address concerns from the Dell workforce. When the news was announced, most reactions fell into three buckets:

  • “But we’ve never used Statistica.” Our co-workers weren't familiar with how robust an analytic platform Statistica is, so naturally they were skeptical. That’s why we hired them. They knew that their work consisted of high-end analytics in SAS and assumed (incorrectly, as it turned out) that Statistica wasn’t up to it.

     

  • “We’ve spent years writing thousands of lines of SAS code. We don’t want to just throw that away.” Our users balked at all the work of trying to replicate in Statistica the advanced analytics functions they had built in SAS. Who wouldn’t feel that way?

     

  • “We consider ourselves SAS professionals and analysts first, and employees of Dell second. For career longevity and our ability to do our job, we believe that it's really important to continue using SAS.” That’s a tough one. We found a number of heavy SAS users who had been working with the product for over 20 years. They were comfortable using it and they had grown, evolved and become pretty good with it over much of their career. Asking them to switch to something they didn't know was a huge imposition.

 

Most users had never heard of Statistica and many of them felt a deep-seated career-attachment to SAS. Once we realized that, we started working on ways to replace their fear of an unknown product with curiosity about Statistica.

Addressing the Concerns

It was our responsibility to arm employees with as much knowledge about Statistica as possible. We began by arranging communication between our employees and our migration leads from Statistica, to show them that their long years of work would not simply be discarded.

The leads examined the techniques and functions our users had worked with in SAS – K-means clustering, polynomial regression, GLM, ARIMA, neural networks, and more – and demonstrated how to replicate and enhance them in Statistica. Nearly all the techniques they had used in SAS were in Statistica, and were easier to implement. In short, they didn’t need to rewrite thousands of lines of code; they simply dragged and dropped icons on the Statistica workspace.

While the discussions eased their concerns somewhat, getting full-scale buy-in required more comprehensive onboarding. We’ll take a closer look at those strategies in an upcoming post.

Download the Dell-on-Dell case study, “Statistica: The Great Analytics Migration" to learn more about anticipating the reaction among your business users when you undertake an analytics migration.

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