It’s almost Halloween: the one night of the year when everyone becomes something different. As we approach an evening of haunted houses and creepy masks, I can’t help analyzing what it is that really gives us that little shiver of fear. And I think the answer is change. Because when you break it down, Halloween is really an entire holiday built around sudden transformation and the horror that can transpire.  

Take, for example, your neighbors. You’re used to seeing that khaki-clad soccer dad next door waving hello as he starts his minivan each morning. But come October 31st, when he’s swinging open his front door to greet the now-horrified trick-o-treaters staring up at his Ozzy Osbourne makeup, a fake bat swinging from his mouth, there’s bound to be a few screams.  

But it’s possible that if you’d always known that guy, not as a Ned Flanders clone, but simply as the wacky old rock star next door, you wouldn’t even flinch at his proclivity for joker makeup and bat snacks. It’s the epic transformation that really throws you off. Or maybe it’s just seeing a grown man pretend to eat a bat that does that. In any case, change is a frightening thing, and it can send people running for the hills.

Confronting the 800-pound monster

So, I have to admit, when I heard Dell wanted to take on a migration project to move hundreds of our employees onto a new advanced analytics platform in just six months, I couldn’t help worrying that our office might turn into its own house of horrors.

Would the normally reserved analyst in the corner cube leap out screaming that he didn’t want to lose all the functionality he’d spent years building into our legacy system? Would angry mobs take to the halls in protest?

We needed a way to not only calm everyone’s nerves, but more than that, we needed a way to get everyone excited about something new and different. So how did we do it ― and why?  

Let’s start with the last part of that question. When you’re using an 800-pound monster of an analytics solution, you start to wonder if there isn’t a better way. From scary-high licensing costs, to the need for so many of our analysts to transform into coders, the prospect of maintaining the status quo began to seem more frightening than overhauling the entire system.

Meanwhile, we’d just added an advanced analytics product called Statistica to our solutions portfolio. And as we became more and more familiar with its predictive analytics capabilities, we were blown away with what it could do.

Suddenly, we didn’t just want to sell this thing, we wanted to use it ourselves. The fact was, Statistica was just a more affordable and robust analytics platform than the one that was bleeding us dry.

And while those of us who’d seen it in action were sold, we still had to sell it to our employees. So we got together and made a plan that would help us properly anticipate and alleviate everyone’s fear of change.

Making change less frightening

We first had to prove that all the work users had done with the legacy product wouldn’t be discarded. So we sat down and showed them how everything could be replicated and enhanced in Statistica ― while eliminating the need for coding. Once they saw how they’d be able to leverage the same functions and make them better while doing less work? Well, let’s just say we had everyone’s attention.

After we’d communicated the change and addressed everyone’s biggest fears, we gave people early access to Statistica. They began to see how this new tool better aligned with their tasks, and they started to shift their emotional connection away from the legacy platform.

To keep things exciting and build on our momentum, we launched a contest. This inspired teams to get up and running quickly with Statistica, and it was fun to watch everyone build real-world models with their new toolset. It didn’t take long before users were embracing Statistica.

When all was said and done, we’d successfully migrated hundreds of users onto Statistica in just a matter of months. I guess that says a lot about how cool the product is. But it also says a lot about how people can embrace change quickly, if it’s really for the best.

And seeing how happy our users are today, I know it was the right thing. I’m not saying I wasn’t scared at first myself. This was a daunting project. But with a little creativity, we took something that could’ve been a nightmare and turned it into something to celebrate.

Now that I’ve seen just how cool change can be, I’m looking forward to this Halloween. Because the scariest thing I can think of isn’t living next door to a Marilyn Manson impersonator for the night – it’s the thought of going back to our legacy system. Now that I don’t have to worry about that, I’m ready for some fun. 

New e-book: The Great Analytics Migration

In our new e-book, Statistica: The Great Analytics Migration, we explain how we created a plan for managing the people, processes and technologies involved in making our analytics platform switch. To learn more about how we migrated hundreds of users to a powerful analytics platform that reduces costs and coding needs, check out our e-book today.

We hope that our experience will make yours a lot less spooky.

David Sweenor

About David Sweenor

From requirements to coding, reporting to analytics, I enjoy leading change and challenging the status quo. Over 15 years of experience spanning the analytics spectrum including semiconductor yield characterization, enterprise data warehousing, reporting/analytics, IT program management, as well as product marketing and competitive intelligence. Currently leading Analytics Product Marketing for the Dell Software Group.

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