You’ve heard the somewhat dated term, “Make IT part of the business” or
“Align IT to the business,” but I have a better question for you.
How can you “Empower the business to partner with IT?”
Yes, I’m turning the question around 180 degrees. Seriously, we’re at a
point in the evolution of technology, data, and innovation that we want to
foster a collaboration where business people pull tech capabilities into
their operations and can self-service their data, apps, and workflow
IMHO, this future of work starts with data-driven practices
What I mean by that is how can you equip business people with technology,
practices, and, dare I say, a governance model that empowers them with data
to make smarter, faster, and safer decisions?
My answer? There are several ways to enable this highly collaborative,
digitally enabled, and experience-driven “future of work.” Recently, I
shared one post on
three ways data-driven organizations enable the future of work, and at the end of the post, I promised to share two more ways.
I provide them in Episode 55 of
Driving Digital Standup. In under twelve minutes, you’ll get quick answers where I jargon-bust
“data-driven organization” and the “future of work” and then provide two
more data practices that truly help make the business part of IT.
No spoilers here, but one practice is really basic (though most orgs still
don’t employ it), and the other is more advanced (though it should help more
organizations bring machine learning models into production). The video is
embedded at the end of this post, and if you find it valuable, I hope you
will subscribe to the channel.
Addressing business-IT alignment, finally
Honestly, I don’t know who coined these phrases, but I suspect it’s the very
large research and analyst firm that advises CIOs. The phrase made sense a
decade ago when IT ran dysfunctional service desks, managed data centers,
focused on end-user computing, and struggled with ERP and other enterprise
Sadly, I’m sure the phrase is still relevant today, which is one reason I
began my first book,
Driving Digital, with these questions and a proclamation
Did you build a customer-facing website in the nineties, invest in
enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM),
and business intelligence (BI) through the 2000s, and are now working on
mobile, social, or cloud-driven transformations? Did your teams figure out
how to be more agile, virtualize servers, or enable continuous delivery? Did
you partner with marketing to improve lead conversion or efficiently
generate new mobile and web customer experiences? Did you put in a new data
warehouse and invest in data governance? Did you enable employees to bring
their own mobile devices and launch collaboration tools so that the global
organization could share information and innovate on new ideas?
If you are a technology leader and didn’t do some of these things, chances
are you were replaced or will be soon. You will be disintermediated by
spending too much effort just keeping the lights on instead of driving
change or being the business steward of risk instead of being a solution
provider. — Isaac Sacolick in
Folks, I wrote that five years ago! If you’re still stuck with business-IT
alignment, that’s one indicator of future disruption for your business – and
maybe your job.
The three capabilities that empower a data-driven partnership
We messed up twenty years ago when rolling out Microsoft Office, Excel, and
Access to business people by providing little to no governance on using
these tools without creating mountains of
data debt. Today, we have better self-service BI capabilities with tools like
Tableau, Power BI, KNIME, Sisense, and Domo, but we must still guide
employees on best practices.
In the video, I provide the structure for setting up a data-driven
organization for success, enabling a future of work based on a collaborative
partnership, and leaving “business-IT alignment” to the depths of
last-generation data centers.
Here’s a quick summary:
- Encourage more employees to partner with citizen data science centers of excellence
Foster agile, multidisciplinary teams
on all data and analytics program
proactive data governance, DataOps, and analytics work as part of a program’s objectives