Why IT Fumbles Analytics

Analytics is the cornerstone of how business understands the value of IT. In fact, most IT organizations depend on their ability to gather and clean data as a main point of interaction between themselves and the businesses they support. However, IT is beginning to strain under the weight of increased data requirements as much as increased data amounts, and it’s here that Donald Marchand and Joe Peppard write this article about why that is, and what IT can do about it. Essentially, the problem is this: the conventional IT project simply doesn’t match up with the “new” analytics of IT. So much data is being collected that insights can be drawn even if they were not the insights which were planned for – and it’s being able to identify these insights that produce happy executives:

 The conventional approach to an IT project, such as the installation of an ERP or a CRM system, focuses on building and deploying the technology on time, to plan, and within budget. The information requirements and technology specifications are established up front, at the design stage, when processes are being reengineered. Despite the horror stories we’ve all heard, this approach works fine if the goal is to improve business processes and if companies manage the resulting organizational change effectively. But we have seen time and again that even when such projects improve efficiency, lower costs, and increase productivity, executives are still dissatisfied. The reason: Once the system goes live, no one pays any attention to figuring out how to use the information it generates to make better decisions or gain deeper—and perhaps unanticipated—insights into key aspects of the business. So how does IT go from fumbling to touchdowns? The authors list 5 broad instructions:

  • Place people at the heart of the initiative
  • Emphasize information use as the way to unlock value from IT
  • Equip IT project teams with cognitive and behavioral scientists
  • Focus on learning
  • Worry more about solving business problems than about deploying technology


The hardest sell might be the hiring or training of a cognitive and behavioral scientist on project teams, but justifying the expense is much easier if it’s viewed away from an IT lens and instead from a business lens: IT professionals are great at pragmatism and at logic, but perhaps not nearly so great at discovering knowledge. The person needed to fully utilize information is someone who is able to not only understand what data is available, but also how people will naturally seek out and utilize that data – how people perceive problems and the solutions that go along with them. This is where a behavioral scientists or a cognitive scientist come into play. With their skill set, they can help your teams better utilize data, draw strategic advantage from analytics, and move your company further along than just a traditional IT team can.

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