5 ways data can make you a better IT leader

Data analytics is not only essential for optimizing business performance, but it also plays an important role in leadership success. Consider these real-world examples
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All successful organizations require strong leadership, whether it comes from a captain on a baseball team, officers in the military, or a founder/CEO at a tech startup. We’ve all seen first-hand how poor leadership results in inefficiencies, lack of organization, poor collaboration, and overall lack of innovation. Today, all companies rely on software and tech, so effective IT management can make or break an organization.

Future-ready CIOs, CTOs, and other IT leaders require certain skill sets to run teams efficiently and effectively, no matter the size or scope of the project. Some of these skills are soft skills such as empathy, compassion, and open communication, but data also plays a key role. You can’t manage what you don’t measure, and data is essential to measuring anything – including IT leadership quality.

[ Also read Future-proof your IT organization by focusing on these 5 priorities. ]

Analyzing data can ensure that managers are properly suited and trained to direct their teams, as well as benchmark personal improvement. Here are five examples of how data can enhance IT leaders’ effectiveness while increasing efficiency and optimization of business processes.

1. Visibility

Data provides IT managers with a holistic view of their teams and of the ongoing processes that take place every day at a business level, from systems integrations to cybersecurity. When organizations are committed to collecting and analyzing data, they can gain a clearer understanding of what is happening in their organization.

By collecting data, you can identify any blind spots in internal and external business processes, which enables you to help your teams focus on things that need attention.

[ Related read Analytics director: A day in the life ]

Data collection is necessary to direct projects and to fully understand how businesses are operating, both of which are key to effective IT leadership.

2. Automation

A major challenge for all IT leaders is the rapid pace of change. Many teams are slowed by mundane, time-consuming tasks. As more employees and businesses rely on technology to assist them in everyday tasks, it is important to understand how technology can be leveraged to speed tasks up and how data plays a role in this.

Data collection is essential to implementing key technologies such as automation and machine learning, which are used to expedite internal and external processes. Historically, employees have had to spend hours manually sifting through data to analyze it, but automated technology can now reduce time spent on these tasks.

Automated technologies allow you to reallocate your teams’ efforts toward higher-priority strategic projects and planning so that business initiatives can be completed faster.

3. Risk mitigation

As discussed, data collection provides an overview of your company’s daily performance. However, it can also be used to better understand threats and risks and how they could impact the organization.

Large-scale data analysis unveils threats that could affect the company and its internal and external operations. Early detection and comprehension of these threats allows you to mitigate risks early and create a plan of action to reduce any impact or negative repercussions.

[ Also read Edge computing: 4 key security issues for CIOs to prioritize ]

Furthermore, many IT companies must maintain strict security measures to ensure their clients’ data and information are secure. You can optimize your security measures by testing potential breaches against your security systems and analyzing the data collected.

Optimize your security measures by testing potential breaches against your security systems and analyzing the data collected.

4. Employee sentiment and performance

Data can be instrumental in helping you better understand your employees. By relying on large-scale data collection and analysis, you can identify gaps in employee performance and address areas of weakness and other problems early.

Furthermore, collecting employee feedback on work-life balance, stress levels, and overall relationships with colleagues and managers helps improve business performance: When employees are happy and engaged, they are more productive.

5. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) evaluation

Just as data can help you understand employees’ performance and sentiment towards the business, it is also a valuable tool to measure employee demographics. This information can help you evaluate and, if needed, adjust your hiring strategies to ensure that you are supporting diversity in the workplace.

Diversity in a workplace improves business performance by providing a broader range of perspectives. Reviewing the data collected from employee surveys and using it to hire a more inclusive workforce can go a long way toward improving business performance.

Data is not the only key to success in IT leadership. IT leaders must also understand the best ways to implement data into workflows and how this can enhance employee experiences, business performance, efficiency at all levels, and customer satisfaction. By focusing data collection and analysis efforts on the five areas listed above, you can encourage innovation, boost efficiencies, and help your business succeed.

[ Discover how priorities are changing. Get the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report: Maintaining momentum on digital transformation. ]

Vikas is part of the executive leadership team at Persistent reporting to the CEO. He has partnered with CXOs across the globe to deliver several transformational programs leveraging data, analytics, and digital technologies. At Persistent, his role is to bring digital capabilities together to the benefit of our clients.