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HP Software's community for IT leaders // July 2013

The CIO’s game-changing skill: bridging IT and business data

Information is increasingly the key currency of business. A chief information officer has to master analytics for IT and business data—together.
Big data plus an ever more competitive marketplace put a new emphasis on intelligence—knowing how and when to act to improve business performance. That means that the chief information officer is increasingly challenged, both to maximize IT operations’ ability to support business growth and to help the business harness its own data to gain better insights. With increasing amounts of data available, and increasingly sophisticated tools to quickly and effectively extract intelligence, IT leaders need to master the analytics that can give them a competitive edge. 
Within the walls of IT, have you gone beyond the basic metrics of operational reports cranked out by your point solutions? To measure strategic accomplishment, you should be able to track application performance, security events, and cloud usage. You should know how much of your portfolio investment is tied to strategic business issues, and whether your cloud projects are giving you the intended agility and cost savings. In terms of the business, you need to provide the ability to draw genuine insight from your sales data, customer database, and website traffic, as well as from social media mentions of your products or competition.

Analytics is evolving to the point where you can ask your data what you need to know, rather than what the structure that houses it will permit. This means that the enterprise will be increasingly driven by deeper understanding of data, and by the CIO’s ability to deliver that capability.

Go wide, go deep

Consider the depth and breadth of the data you’re gathering now. Look at the kinds of information you can give the marketing or product development teams about how your customers interact with your website, software, or social media. Ask yourself these questions about the data you possess, and how you use it. Start within IT:

  • Can you track incidents, open defects, the status of a given server or app?
  • How about average first-call resolution rate, overall portfolio health, percentage of SLAs being met?
  • Can you measure employee/customer satisfaction with the services you provide?

Then think about how you’re maximizing the value of business data:

  • Sales reporting: Is the traditional stuff of analytics, such as customer history data, available?
  • Web metrics: Are you able to look at the logs from your website to track site performance, abandonment rates, customer satisfaction?
  • Can you identify patterns of behavior on your website that could indicate security breaches or fraud?
  • Can you analyze usage patterns that indicate problems in your offerings—or opportunities to offer new services?
  • Can you analyze external data, such as Twitter and Facebook sentiment toward your company and your competitors?

As you master the data relevant to your IT team and your lines of business, you can begin to blend it in new ways, moving from IT analytics to a more robust kind of business IT metrics.

Go faster

Your IT organization needs to be able to look at performance data from the highest-level aggregate view down to the most detailed, root-cause analysis. You need that data to be current, to be crunched quickly. For some data, that might mean getting weekly or daily sales reports. For security events, you need near-instant correlation and reporting.
Speed doesn’t only mean “near-instant reporting.” Some customer interaction analytics are nearly impossible because of how much human time it takes to play back and extract value from, say, every support call that “may be monitored or recorded.” Increasingly, however, automated analytics tools have the intelligence to derive meaning from such unstructured data. They can also monitor floor traffic in retail environments to detect patterns and do other things that are too time consuming (or mind numbing) for human staff.  
One way to get faster information spanning the data of multiple systems is to avoid adding more isolated point tools, which only add to the complexity of integration and data correlations. You’re looking to bring your data together, not wall it off further.

The analytical CIO

The CIO is in charge of the flow of information, and information permeates every transaction or customer interaction: not just the few big decisions, like where to build a new warehouse, but the endless small, daily decisions—such as what choices a retailer offers a shopper, based on analysis of previous purchases and buying patterns, competitor promotions, and local promotions.
There’s treasure to be had in commingling biz metrics and insight with IT insight and analytics—and IT leaders should be uniquely positioned to spot trends that lead to better services, better products, and a more secure, cost-effective enterprise. It’s not just about providing business analytics, but leveraging them back into IT, and leveraging IT analytics back to the business.
For more about how HP approaches big data, learn about HAVEn, our sweeping new analytics strategy, at


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