To maximize value, don't overlook solutions that are already popular


Simple analysis says that an analytic solution with low adoption represents a greater investment opportunity than one with high adoption. Adding more users = more value, right? This thinking may lead you to build new solutions or try to generate higher adoption in solutions with low usage, writing off the opportunity to improve an already popular solution.

But it's not always so simple. High adoption content is clearly adding some value or people wouldn't be using it. Users may have no alternative, though. For example, we often come across companies with one heavily used Frankenstein's monster-like solution that seeks to be many things to many audiences, not succeeding well at any of it. The user experience suffers, with overhead from visual noise, extra clicks, and poor performance that penalizes all parties. In this case, the binary metric of usage only means that a lot of people are suffering through the solution, not that it's effective.

Still, it can be said that any high adoption solution is being used to run the business. Indeed, the popularity of a solution may indicate just how much potential it has. Making a 500-user solution 20% more effective may move the needle more than creating a new one, and for less effort. If you are maximizing business value for the level of effort, the biggest opportunity may be in improving analytic solutions that already have high usage.


This insight was mostly influenced by the book, StrengthsFinder. Conventional wisdom says that we should address our weaknesses to be more effective contributors. But succeeding at this (if even possible) yields a well-rounded yet unremarkable individual -- not a standout in any area. The authors of StrengthsFinder argue that, unless a weakness is career- or life-limiting, you will get farther focusing your energy on maximizing the value of your natural strengths. For example: find or create job roles that enable you to leverage your unique strengths. An added benefit is that you'll likely be more engaged and happier in those roles than tasks that are a poor match for your strengths.

The insight occurred while I was actively reviewing my practice's values, specifically effectiveness:

We spend time on work that creates value for our customers and Axis. We question the value of efforts before acting. We are not satisfied to provide data without insights. Humans are able to understand our solutions. And if people will not use a solution, it has no value. Our communication is clear and purpose-driven, from emails to presentations to visualizations. 

I was soberly considering the ROI of adoption, the way it is normally measured -- is a solution used or not? But if you're truly prioritizing value, binary usage alone lacks context. High usage may indicate high potential. Maybe we should make the most of the solutions that have the most eyes on them.

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