From The Expert Feature Article
August 21, 2017

Facing IT's Headwinds: Increasing Difficulty for IT to Quantify Value to the Enterprise

Note: This is the second article in a series of four. 

As I mentioned in my last article, IT organizations are facing several “headwinds” that can severely hamper their progress and effectiveness. The first headwind I discussed was on the pressure for IT to “Do More with Less.” With enterprise technology advancing at an increasingly exponential rate, IT is being stretched to their limits just to keep up.

This leads to the second headwind we identified: The increasing difficulty for IT to quantify their value to the enterprise.

What Have You Done for Me Lately?

IT—and every other department in the enterprise—faces a non-stop evaluation of what they cost versus the return on investment they generate. This is not new; this is just business.

What is new for IT, however, is that the C-suite expects the tech-savvy IT department to deliver near-instant reports, results, forecasts, and solutions—overlooking, perhaps, the increasing complexity of the IT world.

This world, our world, is a proliferation of digital migrations, cloud conversions, legacy systems, app development, service management, project backlogs, rampant coding and citizen developers—all against a backdrop of tech change at increasingly blinding speeds that challenges IT to keep up.

How does IT manage all these moving targets to not only deliver results, but also to quantify them for the C-suite?

Show Value through Performance Benchmarks

Fortunately, developers are equipping IT teams to not just execute, but also clearly show what type of value they bring. Software and apps can help you quantify your success, qualify it relative to peers, and forecast what it will look like in coming quarters.

Thanks to reporting tools tied to cloud-based metrics and aggregated, anonymized data, you can know how you’re performing relative to your industry peers, based on industry averages and trends over time. In other words, you can set and communicate benchmarks based on a more extensive catalogue of KPIs. It’s a concise way to show the C-suite your areas of strength. It’s also a great way to show how you’ve transformed or are transforming areas of weakness into strengths.

Show Value through Performance Analytics

Historically, IT has done a great job of looking into the past and dissecting data on what has already happened to reveal how and why it happened. We’ve struggled, however, to accurately look into the future, relying on linear forecasting based on spreadsheets.

Performance analytics changes all that. It delivers predictive capabilities that rely on highly evolved, intelligent algorithms and modeling. It puts the power of better, more advanced forecasting into your hands. You’ll be able to make better, faster, more informed decisions based on interactive analysis. For example, you’ll be able to take into account seasonality and import data sets that can be accounted for now, as well.

It all enables you to see where you’re going—and know when you get there. In other words, you can provide a forecasting roadmap to executives and show them successes as you hit each predicted milestone along the way.

Performance Analytics Part 2—Make Nimble (News - Alert), Fine-Tuned Adjustments

It doesn’t end with performance analytics: analytics engines also help you quantify your value to the enterprise. For example, we created and use the analytic engine Spotlight, which constantly runs and analyzes numbers, recognizing and alerting us to anything that threatens expected results.

With such analytics engines, you can monitor real-time data through a dashboard, and you can set automatic notifications based on the KPIs you want to monitor. It lets you know quickly when things are deteriorating or when they look like they're going off course. This allows you to nimbly adjust, prioritize action items in response, and ultimately steer results toward the expected performance.

Imagine running—and presenting—reports that document how your team identified potential problems. You can also show in granular detail or big-picture overview the steps you took to solve the issues you saw coming before anyone else even knew that trouble was brewing. The C-suite will value this capability immensely.

IT Delivers Everyday

No matter what realm you reside in—IT Service Management, IT Operations Management, or IT Business Management (or if you oversee it all)—tools exist for you to document and quantify the value you bring to the enterprise. When that happens, anticipate the C-suite investing more in you, since you can clearly show them what kind of return they’re getting.

In my next article, I will be talking about the growing problem of app and projects sprawl and why IT should be particularly mindful of this often overlooked area. Thanks for reading.

Edited by Erik Linask