For IT, “data driven” usually means we are driving everyone’s data initiatives but our own. Nonetheless, we need hard numbers to effectively manage IT and help the business understand the massive value we provide across projects, tickets, personnel, servers, mobile initiatives, and more. A recent survey on CIO.com found that business stakeholders view IT largely as a service provider (38%), or worse, as a cost center (18%). What will it take to get IT the respect that it deserves? In short: hard numbers.
Gartner’s 2016 CIO Agenda Survey found that 66% of CIOs see a critical talent gap, with 40% of that gap in the area of analytics. There just aren’t enough analysts to go around — which means that we all need to learn more about analytics ourselves to compensate.
Yet considering that analytics is such a broad topic, many wonder where to start to beef up their analytics skills. Fortunately from our point of view, analytics can be broken up into three core areas. Below we suggest a few resources in each category to help you start your IT analytics journey.
Math and Statistics
The award for the most compelling analytics book title since How to Lie with Statistics goes to Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data by Charles Wheelan. Written by someone who hated calculus but loves statistics, Naked Statistics is the perfect book for those who never took a statistics class or barely passed math but can benefit professionally from understanding statistical analysis. Charles Wheelan’s writing style will amuse you while his real-world examples will keep you engaged.
Your next stop should be Data Smart: Using Data Science to Transform Information into Insight by John Foreman. Foreman, the Chief Data Scientist for MailChimp, sets out to demystify data science. Using math and basic spreadsheet formulas, Foreman gives you the practical information you need to start analyzing data. Foreman explains a variety of techniques such as clustering, mathematical optimization, time series/forecasting, and simulation, including when to use them and how they work.
Data Visualization Best Practices
When it comes time to present your weekly IT performance numbers, who wants to see boring spreadsheets? Visually rich analyses can win the minds and the hearts of your audience. Here’s a book you should have on hand to make sure those charts and graphs tell a clear story. In Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals, Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic explains how to communicate effectively with data – whether you’re creating charts in Excel or working with a commercial visualization tool. This book will give you the principles behind well-designed visualizations so that you can present results effectively to business stakeholders. You’ll absorb best practices painlessly as you page through this visually compelling book.
Now that we’ve mentioned various resources for understanding data, what should you use for IT analytics? We know from talking to IT leaders that they use Excel to slice and dice their data, create charts, and then present their findings to the business. Open-source tools like D3.js are also gaining prominence, and Udacity offers a free course on using these tools. And of course we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that we’d love for you to check out Numerify, which gives you comprehensive IT analytics on all of your data from ServiceNow and other sources.
And just for fun (maybe with your next cup of coffee), have a look at Nate Silver’s site, FiveThirtyEight. The site takes a data-driven approach to the news of the day. With a variety of topics covered – including politics, sports, science, economics, and popular culture – you’re sure to find something of interest.
Regardless of whether Numerify is right for you, we’re happy that analytics are of interest to you, and hope that you will continue to follow our blog. And for more on how to implement analytics into IT, be sure to check out our eBook on becoming a Data Driven IT SaaS manager.
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