Running IT like a business takes talent and technology

Running IT like a business takes talent and technology

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November 06, 2014
CIO Data's Credibility Problem

There are two foundational truths that every CIO and IT services executive understands — that the size and complexity of corporate data is growing exponentially and the cost of running an IT organization continues to rise, year over year. The impact of these two trends on IT leaders is that they are under a tremendous amount of pressure to run their departments like a business instead of a cost center. Meanwhile, internal customers are demanding higher levels of responsiveness, and efficient service delivery, since technology has become an increasingly critical part of their success. So IT executives are on a quest to make sense of oceans of data and extract actionable insights that uncover new opportunities, bring down costs, AND help run their businesses more efficiently.

How nice would it be to be able to answer key questions such as what kinds of service requests are the most expensive to deliver? Are you in full compliance with your SLAs? Or which IT service agents and assets are the most productive and which ones are struggling?

It’s actually much harder than it sounds. Traditional approaches used to extract those insights are simply not working. For the last few years, CIOs have purchased dozens of business intelligence tools and hired a legion of data scientists to work with business managers to formulate hypotheses, code queries, and analyze the results — all for other departments such as marketing and sales. Ironically, it is their own department that have been using a patchwork of basic spreadsheets for analysis and reporting.

When it comes to analytics for IT, business intelligence tools often leave too many questions to ask, a multitude of data sources to integrate, and significant investment. Additionally, there is a real shortage of data scientists and analysts — so even sourcing, recruiting, and hiring people who have these skills is tougher than ever before.

With higher demand for insights and fewer people available to find them, there are two important simultaneous shifts that IT executives should recognize to gain the insights necessary to run IT like a business. Namely, there’s a need for IT staffers to be trained in analytical thinking and for solutions (not tools) to incorporate best practices so that business users can quickly and independently develop insightful analysis.

On the people side of the equation, “Organizations that want employees to be more data oriented in their thinking and decision making must train them to know when to draw on data and how to frame questions, build hypotheses, conduct experiments, and interpret results,” according to the Harvard Business Review. In other words, IT executives should worry more about solving business problems than deploying technology. That brings us to the second development.

On the solutions side, cloud-based applications are now able to integrate data from multiple systems — IT service management software, financial and HR data, etc. — and present findings in an easily understood dashboard. Applications like these enable a broader set of stakeholders to identify areas of opportunity, pinpoint processes that are ripe for improvement, analyze historical trends, and uncover hidden patterns. They can not only benchmark their current performance against previous performance and that of their peers, but they can also provide the business context around how IT is enabling innovation throughout the organization.

Now, that’s how to run IT services like a business.

Read our, "Winning the talent war," roundtable article where three leading IT executives share their personal strategies for recruiting and retaining top-tier technology workers.

Sunil Dixit is VP of Marketing at Numerify. Numerify is a provider of IT business analytics applications that harness the power of the cloud to rapidly provide business insights to IT leaders. With 16 years of experience in building and selling analytic applications across multiple domains, Sunil has held product and marketing leadership roles at several companies, including MicroStrategy, Siebel Analytics, SAP, and Oracle. Sunil holds a MBA from the University of Chicago Booth Business School, a M.S in Computer Science from University of Central Florida and a B.E in Electrical Engineering from University of Bombay.

Sunil Dixit is VP of Marketing at Numerify.

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