CIO objectives

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The authors of Competing on Analytics say technology only takes a CIO so far. Aligning people around the numbers produced by business intelligence is essential for future success.

At the telecommunications firm Verizon, the CIO's objective is to create a similar change in analytical culture. Verizon and other firms arising out of the "Bell System" have long been analytically oriented, but decisions were generally made slowly and were pushed up the organizational hierarchy.

CIO Shaygan Kheradpir is attempting to change this culture through continual exposure to information. He created a form of continuous scorecard in which hundreds of performance metrics of various types are broadcast to PCs around the company, each occupying the screen for 15 seconds. The idea is to get everyone—not just senior executives—focused on information and what it means, and to encourage employees at all levels to address any issues that appear in the data. Kheradpir feels that he is beginning to see signs of cultural change from the use of the scorecard.

The CIO may also provide a home and a reporting relationship for specialized analytical experts. Such analysts make extensive use of IT and online data, and they are similar in temperament to other IT people. Some of the analytical competitors where analytical groups report to the office of the CIO include Procter & Gamble, the trucking company Schneider National and Marriott. P&G, for example, has consolidated its analytical organizations for operations and supply chain, marketing and other functions.

This will allow a critical mass of analytical expertise to be deployed to address P&G's most critical business issues. The group reports to the CIO and is part of an overall emphasis within the IT function on information and decision making (in fact, the IT function has been renamed "information and decision solutions").

Of course, the most traditional approach to analytics for CIOs is through technology. This is certainly necessary for CIOs in analytical competitors—although an architect and a leader are necessary. Those roles may not have to be played by the CIO, but the person(s) playing them would in all likelihood at least report to the CIO.

CIOs wanting to play an even more valuable analytical role than simply overseeing the technology will focus on the "I" in their titles—the information. Analytical competition, of course, is all about information.

Do we have the right information? Is it truly reflective of our performance? How do we get people to make decisions based on information? These issues are more complex and multifaceted than buying and managing the right technology, but organizations wishing to compete on analytics will need to master them.

Research from one important study suggests that companies focusing on their information orientations perform better than those that address technology alone. The authors of the study argue that information orientation consists of information behaviors and values, information management practices, and information technology practices—whereas many CIOs only address the latter category. While that study was not primarily focused on analytics, it's a pretty safe bet that information orientation is highly correlated with analytical success.

Reprinted with permission from Harvard Business School Press. Davenport is a fellow at the Accenture Institute for High Performance Business and holds the President's Chair in Information Technology and Management at Babson College in Massachusetts. Harris is an executive senior research fellow and director of research at the Accenture Institute for Higher Performance Business.

Page 3: Vendors and software packages

This article was originally published on 2008-01-09
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