IT and the Cobbler’s Children

Ventana Research just released a fantastic piece of survey research titled “IT Analytics: Benchmarking the Analysis of Data to Gain Business Insight.” It’s an independent survey on the current state of data analytics in IT and the need for better systems and processes.  The executive summary is a free download and well worth the read.

I am very pleased to see someone finally doing good quantitative research in this space. As Ventana states, this has long been the case of “the Cobbler’s Children have no shoes,” where companies spend millions of dollars on business intelligence (BI) and analytics systems for other areas of the business, but IT - even those with billion dollar operating budgets - are left with spreadsheets and ad hoc processes for managing their business.

According to Ventana, some of the benefits of better analytics systems include the ability to:

  • Analyze and determine the priorities for improvement within IT [leveraging hard data]
  • Determine where to focus resources and IT investments
  • Build business cases for cost reduction or cost avoidance programs
  • Resolve the “conflict” between IT-centric and business related priorities (in our parlance, align IT with business objectives)
  • Provide access to source data that is timely and readily accessible
  • Improve the productivity of IT, IT Finance and IT business relationship managers

“IT needs to be able to analyze both historical and real-time events involving data and processes… In short, the CIO and IT staff need to manage their portfolio as a business asset, not merely a collection of technologies.”

The report goes on to talk about key performance and financial metrics as well as the current state (and shortfall) of existing solutions. It also does a great job of quantifying the need for better analytics capabilities and highlights a number of key challenges:

“The research found that users in nearly two-thirds of all organization spend most of their time in unproductive chores that precede analyzing their data….In more than half (52%), [collecting the data] is very difficult or a challenge that impedes creating metrics and performance indicators.”

“For analytics to deliver value, they must be available to those who need them; No more than half [the organizations] have analytics generally available to address any of seven major IT management tasks.”

All in all, 64% of organizations recognize that changes are needed and improvements can be made, with 28% making it a priority in the next 12 to 18 months.

The executive summary closes with 13 recommendations on how to leverage IT analytics to improve business value and make it a priority for this year.  Ventana Research is clearly proving themselves as a leader in real guidance to improve IT-Business Alignment.  It’s high time that more research is done and methodologies are developed to help IT leaders “Run IT as a Business.”