Over the years, data has evolved to become an enabler for the enterprise. What was once siloed in IT processes has spread into a broader capacity for analytics — granting businesses the platform to see the whole story so it can act most effectively.

No matter the industry, every enterprise shares a common imperative: resources. Data analytics explains the needs of the business precisely. This allows the IT department to set up ideal configurations, allocate resources to where they are most needed, and optimise performance delivery, throughput and response time.

While data analytics provides the business intelligence required to make informed decisions, it must also align with the objectives of the firm.

Putting more P into P&L

The driving motivation for analytics is to create profit. At the core of every business is the net gain of the Profit and Loss Statement (P&L) of IT. Every IT department wants to achieve net gain but positive outcomes must be tailored to the needs of individual firms to achieve the optimum result.

In a modern environment where processes are always being improved, the real ‘P’ in the P&L is ‘Speed and Agility’. It is increasingly important for IT departments to focus on creating business and technology infrastructure that can offer the profitability of speed and agility to the business.

Achieving Speed & Agility with Data-driven Possibilities

Managing IT departments like businesses is an obligation, not a choice. IT departments need to collectively act like CEOs and business unit leaders, balancing risk and agility, which may feel counter-intuitive or even contradictary. This forces IT departments to embrace a more calculated risk approach. Here are three steps to embrace the virtues of speed and agility while keeping risk to a minimum.

Define your Risk Profile

It is important to understand the capacities of a company and what it may feasibly risk while testing its boundaries. The risk profile must be applied for each individual context, and an IT department must understand how that applies to each particular part of working processes.

Adopt a Data-driven Approach

Facilitating calculated risk is as much an art as it is a science. Data forms the quantitative element towards calculating risk. This is the essence of an approach driven by raw data, to use objective information to make accurate business decisions.

IT departments should have visibility of their responsibilities in four major areas: financial effectiveness; delivery efficiency and speed; security and governance as well as talent. IT is involved indirectly in almost all parts of the business, so it is crucial for CIOs to clearly understand the right KPIs on these four vectors that are relevant to their business. As the business itself changes in size and objectives, the analysis of its KPIs should reflect the reality of changing circumstances. To optimise the business, there must be continual monitoring of the IT metrics in terms of business objectives, which is integrated into the operational workflow as a periodic process.
Use data to find business problems and act swiftly on corrective measures. Using KPIs that are leading indicators may transform the company to be more faster and more agile. Knowing the composition of the company through good, solid architecture enables the creation of a culture of continuous learning and improvement. IT therefore is the facilitator of speed and agility for business.

Focus on Culture

The nature of transformation is to overturn existing processes and this means there is a disruption of normal processes of the workforce. Technology is not just the responsibility of IT. Digital influence in the enterprise, affects all branches of the business. The end goal is to have a culture where everyone may speak their mind to challenge the status quo and improve the business.

Embrace shadow IT

Most innovation tends to involve a period of unrest while the new regime is established. Create a framework to make it easy to bring ideas to IT and vet it through a logical process in an efficient and effective manner. Teach safety to the enterprise. IT should not be leading the business direction because the company feels it has to innovate for innovation’s sake. Instead, the IT department should be an enabler to the desired business objectives of the firm.

As analytics and technology improves, the possibilities of creating value for the enterprise have expanded at the rate of innovation. More importantly, even when value is the objective, firms may not have the visibility or the right tools to measure value.

Since creating value in IT is dependent upon having the full picture of the business, the overarching structure of being data-driven is essential for reaching optimisation and thriving in competitive markets.