As a Gartner recent report states, IT organizations must “shift from a control strategy to an influence strategy regarding IT and all things technology”.
Basically, it’s time to think about decentralized IT. For many IT teams within the BI world, this is a bit of a shocker.
But first and foremost, remember that decentralized IT isn’t a threat to you and your job. However, as with all change, it’s going to require a new strategy — especially one that encompasses the different technologies that are cropping up.
In traditional BI, the IT vision was a centralized group that established standards and dispatched best practices consistently across the organization so that any department or individual could get the most out of BI.
A lot has changed since then. Gartner is clearly hearing about organizations that continue to struggle with creating BI deployment models that enable more information democracy while avoiding analytical chaos.
Many factors have made it harder for firms to try to standardize their BI environments. These changes aren’t a bad thing, but they’re forcing an evolution in modern BI thinking.
IT’s New Role in Modern BI
Let’s focus on that evolution, and what those benefits are going to be for you:
The cloud has made it easy for departments to select a solution for their own unique needs. They no longer have to approach a standards committee or even IT to do this.
- Self service
New software and business approaches make it easier to try out BI and analytics software. BI used to be what marketers call a “high-consideration purchase.” Not any more. Gartner has predicted that by 2017, “Virtually all analytics purchases will begin as a free or low cost proof of concept.”
BI and analytics have gone from nice-to-have to a competitive imperative in businesses of any scale, piling more work than ever on IT teams.
Markets are as fast-paced as ever and digital disruption rolls on. Business leaders can’t wait for standards or be constrained by centralized one-size-fits-all approaches. Allowing analysts to focus on discovering answers to the questions that matter ensures more results for the organization.
So what does this mean for you, in IT?
Remember that moving IT from a control strategy to an influence strategy doesn’t mean your value is lessening.
There’s still a great role for people with passion and expertise around BI and analytics to play. It’s just going to be different, in a few key ways. Here are some best practices for you.
1. Shift From IT Control to IT Influence
With the change from IT led to IT enabled, the opportunity to establish standards is largely gone. But the opportunity to help those new to BI is tremendous.
Every department is embracing BI, but they don’t know all of the speed bumps, pitfalls and quick-wins that more experienced BI people do. Influence them towards achieving success and determining the best use cases for data , and your influence across the organization will only grow.
2. Balance Data Autonomy With Governance
Complete control won’t work. On the other hand, limitless autonomy will become information chaos — and we’ll be right back to the days when most of the business meeting was spent arguing over who had the right numbers and not what to do about those numbers.
That balance comes in many forms. From a technology perspective, helpful data governance options abound like access controls, semantic layers, master data management and dynamic modeling. Good process design with an eye towards balance will help as well. In Gartner’s words, “IT leaders need to move from ‘gatekeepers’ to ‘air-traffic controllers.’”
3. Make Collaboration Your Cornerstone
I’m not talking about putting threaded discussions on a report. This is about helping the organization learn to maximize the value of analytics as a team rather than in individual groups and silos.
At Datameer, we maintain an internally-accessible wiki page that defines every marketing metric we use. Not to centralize and standardize, but to give other groups visibility so they can voice their opinions as we evolve those metrics. And it’s important. If the definition of a qualified lead is only marketing’s definition and not understood or embraced by sales, we can’t have productive conversations about metrics.
It’s ironic that even as BI and analytics adoption is expanding, the classic IT model is going the way of the dinosaur. But there’s a clear path to productivity.
IT teams can take this opportunity to provide a more consultative, expert role — and begin steering the topic towards determining data use cases and other success-oriented projects.
IT can now work more effectively with business needs to identify challenges. The BI Champions out there might see far greater success now that they’re not constrained by a centralized model.