tl;dr – to kick off 2020 we’re starting a new BI Polar video series focusing on building a data culture, and the first video introduces the series. You should watch it and share it.
Succeeding with a tool like Power BI is easy – self-service BI tools let more users do more things with data more easily, and can help reduce the reporting burden on IT teams.
Succeeding at scale with a tool like Power BI is not easy. It’s very difficult, not because of the technology, but because of the context in which the technology is used. Organizations adopt self-service BI tools because their existing approaches to working with data are no longer successful – and because the cost and pain of change has become outweighed by the cost and pain of maintaining course.
Tool adoption may be top-down, encouraged or mandated by senior management as a broad organization-wide effort. Adoption may be bottom-up, growing organically and virally in the teams and departments least well served by the existing tools and processes in place.
Both of these approaches can be successful, and both of these approaches can fail. The most important success factor is a data culture in which the proper use of self-service BI tools can deliver the greatest value for the organization.
The most important success factor is a data culture
Without an organizational culture that values, encourages, recognizes, and rewards users and teams for their use of data, no tool and no amount of effort and skill is enough to achieve the full potential of the tools – or of the data.
In this new video series we’ll be covering practices that will help build a data culture. More specifically, we’ll introduce common practices that are exhibited by large organizations that have mature and successful data cultures. Each culture is unique, but there are enough commonalities to identify patterns and anti-patterns.
The content in this series will be informed by my work with enterprise Power BI customers as part of my day job, and will complement nicely the content and guidance in the Power BI Adoption Framework.
Back in November when the 100th BI Polar blog post was published, I asked what everyone wanted to read about in the next 100 posts. There were lots of different ideas and suggestions, but the most common theme was around guidance like this. Hopefully you’ll enjoy the result – and hopefully you’ll let me know either way.
 I strongly believe that pain is a fundamental precursor to significant change. If there is no pain, there is no motivation to change. Only when the pain of not changing exceeds the perceived pain of going through the change will most people and organizations consider giving up the status quo. There are occasional exceptions, but in my experience these are very rare.
 Including any number of variations – these approaches are common points on a wide spectrum, but should not be interpreted as the only ways to adopt Power BI or other self-service BI tools.
 By day I’m a masked crime-fighter. Or a member of the Power BI customer advisory team. Or both. It varies from day to day.
 Hopefully this will be true. I’m at least as interested in seeing where this ends up as you are.