Project Portfolio Management

Business-IT Alignment: The Dance of Analytics Projects

In the delicate dance between business and IT, it’s all too common to find them stepping on each other’s feet. As Lorain Lawson for IT Business Edge claims, getting carried away with technology is not going to make either side look good. The best approach is to take it slow.

Tripping on Big Data

But with all the improvements in technology recently, it’s hard not to get carried away. Big data has unleashed an analytics environment that Lawson compares to the Wild West, with teams on both sides running their own projects and campaigns. This leads to learning and innovation, but also surprise failures and unwanted side effects.

Lock and Step

In reality, there’s nothing innovative about taking the right steps to collaborate on analytics. As institutional partners, IT and businesses have practiced alignment before. It’s just a matter of one remembering to move with the other:

For its part, IT needs to target its analytics work to what matters to executive leadership. But the alignment shouldn’t end there. Particularly with predictive analytics, the goal is to use the data to change business outcomes or trigger a reaction. It’s critical that IT work with business leaders to determine what those outcomes and alerts should be, rather than assuming they know what will work.

No Going Solo

Lawson gives an example of an IT analytics project that identified university students who were at risk of dropping out. The IT side decided to go solo once it discovered how to identify the struggling students. IT’s attempt to send the students warning emails backfired, accelerating the drop-out rate by a large margin. Only after the university was notified was the correct policy put into place, with notifications relayed to teachers who could effectively encourage students to stay.

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Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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