Do you have a deep-seated conviction about the power of analytics and business intelligence (BI)? Do you have a driving need to convert your colleagues to your point of view and initiate new, data-driven approaches to solving problems across your organization? Maybe you’re an analytical evangelist.

As part of its Analytical Mind Map project, the research group Aberdeen assessed the analytical and emotional traits of 650 BI users, and identified three distinct analytical personas. I’ve already posted on the analytical detective and the analytical gunslinger. In this post, I’ll cover the analytical evangelist. Of the three types, evangelists are the ones most likely to drive cultural change, promoting the benefits of data-driven insights and spurring their organizations to implement new analytics and BI solutions.


So, what exactly is an analytical evangelist? And are you one of them?

Evangelists are proselytizers. They try to convert the masses to the religion of BI. They want their colleagues to see the light and experience the benefits of generating new business insights. Evangelists are true believers and think everyone else in the company should be, too.

They collaborate. Evangelists want to convert, but they don’t look down on the uninitiated. Instead, they see potential partners in the crowd. Analytical evangelists collaborate willingly. They see the importance of partnerships and working together to foster change.
Maybe not surprisingly, evangelists see the value of bringing executives, managers and decision makers into the fold. With friends in high places, evangelists can marshal the financial and organizational support they need to launch new programs.

IT and sales teams have strong potential for collaboration as well. Evangelists want to work with IT groups to introduce new analytics and BI solutions — especially solutions that enable users to access data from a variety of data sources, and that extend BI functionality beyond the realm of specialists. Meanwhile, evangelists want to share analytics and BI capabilities with sales teams, who can use those skills to improve the accuracy of forecasts and identify new business opportunities.

They empower. When evangelists are successful, they help build a community of workers who are strongly — and regularly — engaged in analytics. In that community, individuals are empowered to conduct analytics independently. According to the Aberdeen survey, 47 percent of users in organizations with evangelists engage with analytics in a self-service capacity. Those users don’t need to rely on IT-managed analytics to pose analytical questions or generate answers. 

Does it sound like you?

Are you an evangelist? If so, you’ll flourish in an environment that encourages innovation and supports new initiatives. But no matter how your organization sees the value of analytics and BI, chances are you have a lot of work ahead of you. According to the Aberdeen study, 35 percent of respondents identified as evangelists have some kind of analytics training program in place at their organization. That’s great, but it also means 65 percent don’t have such a program — there’s still plenty of room for change.

Maybe you’re not an evangelist, but you might have one in your midst. Don’t worry, there’s very little downside. Partnering with evangelists can ultimately help you access new insights while improving decision making across your organization.

To learn more, read the Aberdeen report, “Analytical Evangelists: Preaching the Gospel of Data-Driven Insight.”

See whether your approach to BI makes you more of an analytical detective or an analytical gunslinger.


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