IT Leadership Group Discusses Governance and Analytics
I recently got to talk to several senior IT leaders about their views on information governance and analytics. Participating were a telecom company, a government transportation entity, a consulting company, and a major retailer. Each shared openly in what was a free flow of ideas.
The CEO and Corporate Culture is critical to driving a fact based culture
I started this discussion by sharing the COBIT Information Life Cycle. Everyone agreed that the starting point for information governance needs to be business strategy and business processes. However, this caused an extremely interesting discussion about enterprise analytics readiness. Most said that they are in the midst of leading the proverbial horse to water—in this case the horse is the business. The CIO in the group said that he personally is all about the data and making factual decisions. But his business is not really there yet. I asked everyone at this point about the importance of culture and the CEO. Everyone agreed that the CEO is incredibly important in driving a fact based culture. Apparent, people like the new CEO of Target are in the vanguard and not the mainstream yet.
KPIs need to be business drivers
The above CIO said that too many of his managers are operationally, day-to-day focused and don’t understand the value of analytics or of predictive analytics. This CIO said that he needs to teach the business to think analytically and to understand how analytics can help drive the business as well as how to use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The enterprise architect in the group shared at this point that he had previously worked for a major healthcare organization. When organization was asked to determine a list of KPIs, they came back 168 KPIs. Obviously, this could not work so he explained to the business that an effective KPI must be a “driver of performance”. He stressed to the healthcare organization’s leadership the importance of having less KPIs and of having those that get produced being around business capabilities and performance drivers.
IT needs increasingly to understand their customers business models
I shared at this point that I visited a major Italian bank a few years ago. The key leadership had high definition displays that would roll by an analytic every five minutes. Everyone laughed at the absurdity of having so many KPIs. But with this said, everyone felt that they needed to get business buy in because only the business can derive the value from acting upon the data. According to this group of IT leaders, this causing them more and more to understand their customer’s business models.
Others said that they were trying to create an omni-channel view of customers. The retailer wanted to get more predictive. While Theodore Levitt said the job of marketing is to create and keep a customer. This retailer is focused on keeping and bringing back more often the customer. They want to give customers offers that use customer data that to increase sales. Much like what I described recently was happening at 58.com, eBay, and Facebook.
Most say they have limited governance maturity
We talked about where people are in their governance maturity. Even though, I wanted to gloss over this topic, the group wanted to spend time here and compare notes between each other. Most said that they were at stage 2 or 3 in in a five stage governance maturity process. One CIO said, gee does anyone ever at level 5. Like analytics, governance was being pushed forward by IT rather than the business. Nevertheless, everyone said that they are working to get data stewards defined for each business function. At this point, I asked about the elements that COBIT 5 suggests go into good governance. I shared that it should include the following four elements: 1) clear information ownership; 2) timely, correct information; 3) clear enterprise architecture and efficiency; and 4) compliance and security. Everyone felt the definition was fine but wanted specifics with each element. I referred them and you to my recent article in COBIT Focus.
CIO says they are the custodians of data only
At this point, one of the CIOs said something incredibly insightful. We are not data stewards. This has to be done by the business—IT is the custodians of the data. More specifically, we should not manage data but we should make sure what the business needs done gets done with data. Everyone agreed with this point and even reused the term, data custodians several times during the next few minutes. Debbie Lew of COBIT said just last week the same thing. According to her, “IT does not own the data. They facilitate the data”. From here, the discussion moved to security and data privacy. The retailer in the group was extremely concerned about privacy and felt that they needed masking and other data level technologies to ensure a breach minimally impacts their customers. At this point, another IT leader in the group said that it is the job of IT leadership to make sure the business does the right things in security and compliance. I shared here that one my CIO friends had said that “the CIOs at the retailers with breaches weren’t stupid—it is just hard to sell the business impact”. The CIO in the group said, we need to do risk assessments—also a big thing for COBIT 5–that get the business to say we have to invest to protect. “It is IT’s job to adequately explain the business risk”.
Is mobility a driver of better governance and analytics?
Several shared towards the end of the evening that mobility is an increasing impetus for better information governance and analytics. Mobility is driving business users and business customers to demand better information and thereby, better governance of information. Many said that a starting point for providing better information is data mastering. These attendees felt as well that data governance involves helping the business determine its relevant business capabilities and business processes. It seems that these should come naturally, but once again, IT for these organizations seems to be pushing the business across the finish line.
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