Your Firm’s Culture Need to Catch Up with its Business Analytics?

business leadersI met last week with a group of IT executives in varying roles and industries. Included in the group were enterprise architects as well business intelligence leaders. I asked the assembled group about whether their enterprises viewed data as a strategic asset and whether their business leaders were trying to do what Tom Davenport suggests in his book, “Compete on Analytics”.

Breadth and speed of data causing the business to take notice

shutterstock_227687962 (1) - CopyOne IT leader said “clearly the breadth and the speed of data is causing our business leaders to take notice and think a lot more than in the past about using current data for their current decision making processes”.

Several, however, complained, that their firms were not really analytically oriented. “Our business intelligence teams work very hard to create a single source of truth for the enterprise”. However, the collective group felt this is where the problems actually begin. Many said their business counterparts cherry pick through the data that they provide to find data that supports their preconceived opinions. Some said their business counterparts will go so far as to complain that the data provided is not correct when it does not conform to decisions that they have already committed to make. Others yet said that their business counterparts will take the data their teams create and manipulate the data so much in excel or other tools that they effectively create a new source of the truth. And when this happens, business groups argue about which one has actually produced the single source of truth.

Silos of truth still need to be stamped out

siloedAt the same time, most attendees admitted to having silos of truth as well and no true“enterprise analytics capability”. Several attendees said they struggle in getting their customers to be definitive about what they need. “Some of our customers say they just want aggregates but ask afterward where is the ability to drill into raw data”. An enterprise architect in the group said that he wanted to change how they create business intelligence. In the current process—which he stressed is broken, we sit with the business and then spend a lot of time discussing the data that they need and then we create integrations that they later say are wrong. What I would like to do now is create a data lake and then give the business the tools to explore this data and its potential relationships. By providing them access to the raw data at the start, they will be able to determine what is bad and good data. With this, he would like them to build the quality and mastering rules. They need to own data quality because over time quality rules can need to change as the business changes. This will allow him in his words to stop wasting time dealing with changes. As well, he said this is much better because it helps the business operate at the speed of business competition.

Building a culture that supports analytics

We talked too about the importance of building a culture of analytics and having leaders that let the data speak for itself. I shared with them that there are vanguard analytical leaders like Brian Cornell from Target. These leaders have made analytics and focus groups a central part of their approach to doing business. I told them, as well, that Marc Benioff has suggested the following, “I think for every company, the revolution in data science will fundamentally change how we run our businesses. Our greatest challenge is making sense out of data. We need a new generation of executives to understand and lead through data”. My sense was this group was desirous of having a leader that leads through data and consider analytical thinking as important as Cornell and Benioff obviously do. With this the discussion turned to data governance. The assembled group amazingly said that data stewards are hard to get. This makes it difficult for the CIOs to act as an effective data custodian.

Concluding Thoughts

If your investments in analytics, big data, and business intelligence are to pay off, enterprise leadership needs to first drive cultural change. Today’s enterprise leaders to lead through data as Benioff suggests. Doing this needs to start by saying to the organization no data, then no decision.  Only by taking this step can an organization truly have a single source of truth that supports them in making better decisions.

Additional Materials

How does data drive the data ready enterprise (an eBook)

Solution Briefs

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Blogs and Articles

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Twitter: @MylesSuer