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What is the 90-9-1 rule and how can a business analyst take advantage of it?

Posted by Chris Adams

Article Rating // 17966 Views // 2 Additional Answers & Comments

Categories: Business Analysis, Systems Analysis, General, Elicitation (BABOK KA)



The 90-9-1 rule is a popular concept among marketing professionals, but has a much wider application which can serve a business analyst well.  The basic principle is that the behavior of a community of people (or a group of users) naturally falls into 1 of 3 groups with the relative  population sizes of 90%, 9%, and 1%.  Another easy to remember name for this is “the rule of 9s” where the population split is 90%, 9%, and .9% (which is pretty darn close to 1%).

So how do these 3 groups behave.  Let’s start with an online community example (this is similar to behavior seen on social media as well).  

The 90% are the lurkers. They see and read posts from time to time, but you never really hear from these people. They just consume and they often fall in line with the opinions presented by the other two smaller segments. They might occasionally make a comment on an article or post, but they are first and foremost consumers of information.

The 9% are the active users.  They frequently comment on posts or articles or in forums. They share ideas and have debate. They engage in back and forth discussion and give their opinions.

The 1% (.9%) are the thought leaders.  They submit their own original content. They are strong advocates of your community, product, and brand. 

The 90% is persuaded by both the 9% and 1% with the 1% seen as the thought leader.  A company should strive to take care of and nurture both of these smaller segments.

So how can a business analyst take advantage of this information.  If building an internal system or collaboration tool it’s going to align very closely with this model.  Keep in mind the relatively large number of active users you will need to generate a vibrant community. Furthermore, when eliciting requirements, consider ways to build features that will support the 9% and 1%.  Pay particular attention to the development of these features to ensure the expected results are realized.

But beyond community and collaboration tools, really any product has a 9% and 1% segment (roughly speaking).  The 9% will give very positive feedback on your product or system when asked.  They are active users of the product.  The 1% goes a step further and are advocates for your product recommending it to others on a regular basis.  They are the biggest drivers of word-of-mouth advertising and growth. Find ways to nurture these two groups.

Chris Adams
LinkedIn Profile



Anupama posted on Tuesday, December 8, 2015 1:44 AM
As I am new in this field, this article is helpful to understand people responsive nature. Thanks!
AJ posted on Monday, February 20, 2017 7:20 AM
Couldn't stop myself from putting down a comment on this post, for at least not to be categorized as 90% :)..
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Do your homework prior to the business analysis interview!

Having an idea of the type of questions you might be asked during a business analyst interview will not only give you confidence but it will also help you to formulate your thoughts and to be better prepared to answer the interview questions you might get during the interview for a business analyst position.  Of course, just memorizing a list of business analyst interview questions will not make you a great business analyst but it might just help you get that next job.



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