The Death of Business Intelligence

IT Zero or IT Hero

Posted in Business, Business Intelligence, CIO, Crisis & Turmoil, IT, Microsoft, Office 2010, SPARQL, SQL, Value by jenniferrhowell on April 26, 2010

IT Specialist, IT Manager, CIO these titles used to strike fear in the hearts of many a CEO and CFO. Back in the good old days an IT specialist was like a God. The IT specialist would walk around with the power to transform companies by saying magical words no else could understand. It was fine that no one else understand because normal people aren’t supposed to be able to directly communicate with Gods.

For years this was how it went, IT would declare they needed something new (a piece of expensive hardware or software) and companies would blindly follow or fear being left behind.  Today, the IT officer isn’t special anymore. Today, IT within companies is seen like a Greek God, interesting historically but not relevant for bringing lasting change to the business.  Today, IT is supposed to do more with less. CFO’s demand IT cuts before any other department. IT implementation is a thing of the past; instead IT manages the current systems and adds new employees to the systems. IT managers, instead of fighting for their place within the company, are accepting the role of being outdated relics of the IT Golden Age.

Can the IT department be relevant again?

In a world where technology is everywhere and everything is technology, how can an IT officer and the IT department become relevant again? At a recent seminar by Peter Hinssen, a group of CIOs were told to ask themselves this same question. The answer it appears is surprisingly simple. IT needs to become risk takers again. When the world-wide-web was first becoming popular, IT implementers were the pioneers, guiding companies into the new world through our knowledge and the sheer force of knowing that IT was the future. The IT gurus in the company knew the Internet was going to be huge and they were sure they could make it work for their companies. Today, IT needs to take risks again. IT managers need to look at a company through fresh eyes and guide businesses into the future.

The forgotten bottom line

How can this happen if IT budgets are all about keeping current systems in place? Again, the answer is like a big, duh! The IT department needs to start thinking like a business. Look at the marketing department in your company. They have a budget to keep things like the website up to date and the marketing papers current, however, their second remit is to find ways of creating value for the business. If they seek $10,000 for a social media campaign, you better believe they’ve done their homework on the ROI this is going to bring to the bottom line of the company. The same needs to happen within the IT department. How many projects have you recommended that are going to bring a ROI within a year? In fact, in the last 5 years, how many IT projects have you recommended that will bring value to the company and did not simply support existing databases?

The Crystal Ball of the 21st century

One way of making the IT department relevant again is to sit in on each department and see what they do on a daily basis. What does Marketing, Finance, Operations and HR do and how can you help them do their job more efficiently? One really important question to ask is where are they doing the bulk of their work? As Michael Singer wrote on his blog Internet Evolution “The mobile phone and the laptop have replaced the desktop PC and cubicle as the workspace of the new millennium. So the challenge for enterprises today is to ensure that the mobile workforce is not only connected, but pretty much psychically linked.” As IT Professionals, you should be the crystal ball of the company. Where is technology moving and how can you implement this technology to give your companies the competitive advantage? Looking at the management team, are the software solutions you’ve recommended helped facilitate open communication and collaboration? Have these solutions enabled managers to make better, real time decisions? Is there a way to facilitate this decision, helping increase productivity and contribute to the bottom line of a company? Microsoft Office Suite 2010 is trying to offer this solution. Also, Business Intelligence packages like Power Pivot embedded in Excel 2010 or to get your organization on the right trace, solution that embeds advanced, unified planning and reporting capabilities right into excel. Performance Canvas Planning, offers a solution that offers complete information synthesis between departments as well. There are simple solutions that can start making your IT department relevant but they do require putting your IT department back into the corridors with the rest of the workplace.  As Mark McDonald said, “the value of IT exists through time, so any measure of IT should be shown across time”, while, it may be the case that you are no longer feared as Gods but in the 21st century you can still be relevant as productive, innovating and entrepreneurial where your input contributes to the bottom line of the company and doesn’t just diminish it.

To learn more about Office 2010 and planning functionality, go to the DSPanel website.