A customer of ours recently launched a company-wide initiative to realign processes with a clearer focus on end users. Why? They realized departments had gotten so caught up in optimizing workflows and measuring metrics that they had drifted away from the true heart of their business: serving customers.
We’ve also heard IT leaders share plans to lead their company’s digital transformation, or scale IT growth to meet expanding business demands, or embark on other high-level projects. We understand what IT organizations want to be doing, and where their priorities lie for the foreseeable future. And in a previous blog post we discussed where the role of IT is headed in relation to broader industry trends. Now, let’s talk about how IT organizations can get there.
Bridging the Gap Between Big Ideas and Current Infrastructure
We know that change (or at least the plan to implement change) is afoot for IT organizations of all shapes and sizes. Less clear, however, is the best path forward. A McKinsey survey found that only 10 percent of business executives believe IT is very effective at leading department-wide transformations. Many IT organizations appear unprepared to navigate major transitions, whether due to inadequate processes, a lack of transparency, or otherwise.
The McKinsey survey also reveals a discrepancy in the current versus believed future value of the IT organization. While executives believe that in five years IT will create the most value through innovation, those leaders say business process enablement is how IT presently delivers the greatest value. That’s a huge gap between where IT focuses most of its resources today and where executives anticipate the organization will drive value moving forward — a shift from improving efficiency to leading the company in forward-thinking projects.
Broader structural changes seem necessary for IT organizations to get to a position where you can move away from functioning and toward innovating. To do so, you want to reconfigure how your department operates in a way that maximizes value while creating as little disruption as possible. That’s where analytics come in.
Business Analytics: The IT Org's Yellow Brick Road
We’re not talking here about the business intelligence systems your IT organization may already be familiar with. Business analytics for IT are unique in that 1) they’re designed specifically for the challenges that IT organizations frequently face, and 2) they offer the means to fully leverage your data minus the hassle of traditional manual reports.
In our blog post about IT’s role, we mentioned two key ways for IT leaders to meet shifting priorities: through transparency and the merging of previously siloed data sources. Many department heads might think that sounds impossible — you simply don’t have the bandwidth for more custom reports. But IT business analytics make it feasible for IT teams to drive visibility and aggregate systems of record minus the manpower previously required.
However, that’s not all IT business analytics are good for. We have customers deploying business analytics to address myriad challenges, including:
- Eliminating resource waste so IT can allocate resources to driving service enhancements
- Reducing risks in their IT environment
- Aligning processes between dispersed locations
- Actively overseeing the asset lifecycle and anticipating refresh needs
- Understanding and reducing project management variances
- Merging previously siloed data sources for a complete picture of performance
Why Operational Monitoring Tools Won't Cut It
If you’re like other IT executives, you probably already have an operational monitoring system in place and think it does the job just fine. However, a key shortcoming of monitoring tools is that they don’t offer visibility into the business implications of service delivery issues. System-based monitoring solutions provide a strong foundation for understanding here-and-now operational issues or failures. What they can’t do is connect the dots between an operational issue and how it affects your budget, workforce, revenue, project schedule, and other departments.
Turning IT into a Facilitator of Major Transformations
Let’s return to the customer mentioned in the opening paragraph: Their executive team defined a desired future state, but how is their IT department helping to execute that change? With business analytics, their IT leaders are working toward a goal of drastically reducing custom reports. Their IT team spends an enormous portion of their time on report building. The level of detail needed to understand key metrics means extracting data from separate sources and creating reports ad nauseum to review different performance variables.