This was probably my favorite of the myth-busters webcasts I have been spewing about, and now I definitely want to meet James Dallas so we can discuss and nod emphatically at each other’s insights on this topic!
The “You can’t have analytics without IT” myth is the fourth myth covered in the webcast series that busts four analytics myths. The series features Keith Collins SAS CIO and James Dallas, former CIO of Medtronic. It also features interview clips from IT peers in multiple industries.
As I've stated before, with technology being so prevalent in every line of business, as well as in our personal lives, today's IT leaders have to come to the table with more than just geek knowledge. The IT leader must understand how to drive significant change with technology as an enabler. But the change management required to move to a data driven analytics culture is much more difficult – and important.
When I was the Director of Enterprise BI at Kimberly-Clark, reporting to the CIO, I started an “experiment” to illicit the right behavior of the IT business analysts and developers that worked on my team. I knew that we needed to be more than just technology providers – we needed to SOLVE PROBLEMS. I started a small nimble team called "BI Consultants” – and gave them a sandbox to develop in new tools.
Then I sent these internal consultants out to business teams – to uncover specific, targeted problems that we could help solve in a fast turnaround. We called our task force deliverables “Rapid Value Realizations” (or RVRs because we are IT and need an acronym). I was developing not a true shadow IT, but a small group to penetrate the walls between IT and the business for all things analytics. By putting resources out into the business this way, I accomplished what Dallas said he doesn’t mind – enabling shadow IT as long as he was the one casting the shadow!
What did we learn from this experiment? We learned that the business wanted to FAIL FAST and iterate solutions. They wanted IT to understand their business problems and come up with a quick hit solution that could be tried and tweaked until we got it right. The business did not want to come up with a huge project charter, fight for funding and prioritization, and then just hope they got requirements right the first time. With an ERP or transactional system they understood the need for traditional project discipline, but for BI and Analytics they wanted an agile and business-savvy IT problem solver who could implement quickly and not have to wait for the business case paperwork to be complete.
As Collins states in the webcast, the business has been doing analytics “for years” without IT. IT kicked analytics out because it did not fit the traditional IT development and support framework. But now that big data is on the table IT feels they need to be involved.
So, how does IT position itself to be a part of the analytics power? Not by being the “long pool in the tent” that Dallas refers to – but by being embedded in the business process and truly walking the walk with the business.
If we want to be respected enough to be part of the solution, we need to own the problem too. For BI and Analytics, this is an imperative for IT. Sometimes we are slow to the game because we are keeping the proverbial lights on for the rest of the company, but we need to carve out a slice of talent to groom for more consultative and fast-paced solutions to help business leaders realize their strategies by leveraging all the information – not data - that we can provide.
Watch the full Webcast to learn more from Dallas, Collins and fellow IT pros.