CIO and report roles changing, of course

This article had a fantastic sentence about IT roles.     

“They need greater political skills to deal with senior-level executives who may feel threatened by global business processes.”

I could not agree more.  The CIO and his IT group will be matrixes deep into the organization as IoT, analytics, cloud services along with new mobility optimize legacy processes and create brand new services.

This will create threats.  Optimizing a process by removing inefficiencies may also eliminate control points that line of business executives and managers are not happy to give up or the downsizing of their staff that might be no longer needed.

I recall a manager who over a period of 3 years lost 20 people in their 80 person department in 3 office locations.  When I was hired in the 3rd year, the finance person was explaining to me how my budget got hit for the amount of space my division used in all the buildings globally.    Asking for a breakdown by department for the past 3 years, I noticed that this same department’s salary and other expenses reduced significantly each year, but not their overhead expense or the stated office space utilized.

In speaking to the manager he explained that he had been there for 20 years and they would reduce staff and then 3 – 4 years later add them back in.  If you gave up the space, it would take another 3 – 4 years to get the additional space, so you held on to it. Use it as a storage area, move a contractor over to the desk, stop sharing for different shifts – anything to keep the space.

Oh did I open up can of angry cobras (worms are just wiggly, not mean).  Finance went through each area and found globally almost all departments guilty of the same.

I am sure that still happens today and what IT evolves into will only run up against this more and more.

IT is already a matrix.  Per a prior blog, each line of business area has that tech savvy person or persons.  Marketing has those web and/or analytics hot shots.  Finance has their excel guru’s who became analytics gurus.  Operations application gurus and everyone is becoming cloud based services gurus.

You have to work across all of them.  But, that is merely about application upgrades, new services or changes to the same.  They still see that as changing what IT does.

Now IoT, analytics, cloud and mobile technology can impact the business operations by changing them radically.  Thing Uber and taxis along with retail stores vs Amazon mobile app.  What will happen with self driving cars.

The issue is that protective nature over the status quo.  First you will hear IoT is unproven, analytics is too hard and cloud does not save you money.



This is where Harry Truman make some sense.   

If you can’t convince them, confuse them.  

Align your proposal with their specific concerns (illogical as they may be).

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.

Make it their idea, give up ALL the credit when it is seeking approval for this GREAT business strategy idea and most of it when you are successful.








How to REALLY optimize business processes


For anyone who has worked with Six Sigma or Lean to drive waste out of business processes, that first year or two of full commitment is exciting and often results in large type savings.






Following that it takes a different mindset.  Kate Tayler captures that well with her article about Panera Bread.



The simple line that ‘what they found was that there wasn’t one thing that needed to change, but instead “hundreds of little things” to adjust.’ tells it short and sweet.  changes

Continuous improvement will occur not with big changes, but many many little ones.  Be prepared to experiment, fail and experiment some more.  That failing more

These Six Sigma experiments are greatly improved with current and emerging analytics, AI, IoT and the speed to market of cloud services.

A lot of fun too.




Cannot find or afford a data scientist – yes you can.

Mr. Vashishta’s is perfectly correct in his article for Fast Company “What If The Data Science “Skills Gap” Is Just A Hiring Hot Mess?”.

Specifically his formula, Platforms + Business Problems = Required Skills could unlock a pool of candidates.puzzle key

Hire that graduate out of university with mad math skills mad mathand they will crunch and crunch, build data sets, dashboards and what insights will be drawn.  Not much.

But like Vin states find a candidate solved the business problem on the same or a similar platform before?  You likely have a person like that if not in IT, then see who is solving business problems with data in accounting or marketing.  Customer Service is another hot area for those data technology savvy folks.

Ask those candidates whether internal who know your business and processes best or outside candidates from similar industries and ask them as Mr. Vashishta would to tell you the problems, their platforms, and their data.

dataoceanYour need deeper analytics to stay competitive to find new markets, strengthen customer retention and identify new opportunities. The heavy math you can rent, but the experience and knowledge of what questions to ask and provide the measure of confidence in the accuracy/quality of existing data.

You have to look past the hyped job description of the role you need and what candidates current titles are now to what their skills fully are capable of doing to uncover the talents that are already there or nearby.hidden talents.jpg

What is a Data Scientist? I know I am not one…

Below is a lovely infographic of what it takes to be a data scientist.  I can say that I have plenty of the domain knowledge, soft skills and a good amount of communication skills, but bayesian inference – please.


I accomplished my MBA, but I will humbly state that statistics almost made me quit.

The point here is to fully understand that depth of skills and reason these people are rare and in short supply.  Art-template

If you find one – hold on to them because the are like Marino Rivera in your bullpen.  rivera

The closest thing to a sure win against your competition as there could be.

So what is one to do if they cannot find this ‘perfect’ person.  Well a team of 3 would work very well I say.

  1. with the deep business knowledge, real world experience and ability to go toe to toe with c-level executivespower-rangersa number two with the deep statistical math capabilities – a phenom who looks and can talk numbers the way I can about single barrel bourbon or a ribeye
  2. the third is the database/developer who alone with Python and R, is a wise with Hadoop

Number 1 or number 3 could fulfill the cloud and data migration experience or that could be a fourth role.

If you are in retail, financial services or healthcare right now this is a NECESSARY role in your organization do don’t wait.  Other industries for the moment might be able to wait until 2020 before needing this role on a consulting basis every quarter or so.





Video article: big or small data no difference

If you look through this blog you will see analytics pop up often as I am a strong proponent that analytic is needed everywhere in every business.

However, as Ms. Steeley Reed states in this video, just measuring and reporting on everything is not effective for your business.  She speaks of make the data actionable.  images

More so, she points out you must measure and report on what impacts the customer and I will add visualize that data to make it actionable.Capture

Having actionable data focus means that you move away from reporting on everything and focus on both what impacts your customer (internal/external).  Then present that data in a visual manner to allow the employee, manager or executive to take action.

Therefore, big data or small comes into play here.  Start small with using the readily available data to create actionable data visualizations.  Then add to that data from the harder to get to structured and that unstructured data that requires data governance.

Be mindful here of data that is available in real-time video, social media and so forth that you can stream into visualizations to provide improved customer engagement immediately.

  • Tracking customer wait lines in videos streams to start offering discounts on product/service items that are quicker to deliver


  • Display support line hold times and hang ups to contact those customers to offer them alternatives to phone support


  • Health providers leverage mobile technology to track out-patients health conditions to detect needed adjustments treatments

Many other to be mindful of as you progress.

Business functions separated by a common language.

Two nations divided by a common language“, this quote normally attributed to Oscar Wilde is about Britain and the USA.  Brit and the USSince my daughter has become engaged to a Brit, this is a frequent occurrence in my family.




So when I was reading the latest Gartner CIO survey results and read the below chart –

Top 10 Business Priorities


Top 10 IT Priorities


Increasing enterprise growth
Analytics and business intelligence
Delivering operational results
Mobile technologies
Reducing enterprise costs
Cloud computing (SaaS, IaaS, PaaS)
Attracting and retaining new customers
Collaboration technologies (workflow)
Improving IT applications and infrastructure
Legacy modernization
Creating new products and services (innovation)
IT management
Improving efficiency
Attracting and retaining the workforce
Implementing analytics and big data
Expanding into new markets and geographies
ERP Applications

My first thoughts were to the quote above.  When the line of business, be it finance, marketing or another department talks to IT or vice versa you can see from the chart above that they are speaking English, but not the same language.

On the left business is saying what they want to DO and on the right IT is saying what they should BUY and IMPLEMENT.

The issue is who is ensuring that the right side from IT will DO what business wants on the left side.

That is an important exercise that both line of business and IT must do is not just at budget time, but throughout the year.

Let’s start with Increasing enterprise growth.  growthWhat is IT doing on the right to increase growth?

1. Analytics and BI can identify untapped markets, great customer sales potential and run tests to improve market success of new products/services.

2. Analytics, Collaboration technologies and ERP apps tied to Mobile technologies can provide field sales the ability to outshine competitors in front of customers.

Delivering operational results – results

1. Again analytics and BI can play a large role in provide visibility to internal processes, tie that to mobile technologies to speed decision-making and leveraging optimized ERP applications to improved processes.

2. The most obvious is that Cloud computing, Virtualization, and Legacy modernization can reduce IT cost and thus help the bottom line.

Reducing enterprise costs – see above  reduce

We can go through the entire list, but you get the idea.  The important note here is that both IT and the lines of business should have their strategies and tactics matrixed to clearly demonstrate alignment is clear.  Also, they need to communicate, measure and promote this alignment throughout the company during your fiscal year and across years for longer range projects.

Performing a constant translation is important, as this year it is Cloud, Analytics, and BYOD requiring translation from the IT to the LOB side.  Depending on  your industry there are several business terms IT will need the business to ensure they have clear translations.

Book Review – Super Crunchers

Author Ian Ayres

Not the fastest reads as the author and the many people he sites like to use their university vocabulary.  I met the author at a speaking event where he spoke of the book and with a number of others I received a signed copy.  While the book held my interest, he is a much better speaker.  If you have the chance catch him giving a talk.  1 supercrunchersIn short, this book explains the use of number crunching can dramatically improve everything from medical to marketing successes.  It does focus on the fact based decision making versus intuition and past experience alone, which the book and frankly my experience is a major culture change for the majority of businesses.

–       Keeping an Eye Out for Chance on page 69  1 math

  • Along with analytical insights from crunching numbers that exist, the tools available today allow experiments to be run to quickly determine a successful course of action.

–       Follow the herd versus evidence based tactics on page 89

  • Regardless of level of education and experience we develop biases and that will drive our decisions.
  • Using evidence based information systems corrects for bias.

–       An average of 17 years for new knowledge generated to be put into practice on page 91

  • In the medical field, it can take that long for a new discovery to become procedural due to habits and bias.

–       1 cokeCoke-can predication on page 114

  • We can predict that a coke can will spurt if shaken and that is how we often rely on a experts opinion.  We treat their knowledge like it is absolute, yet have they continued to refine it, add to it and question their own expertise?

–       But What if it’s Wrong on page 184

  • The culture of the current day super crunchers are different than the ‘older’ analyst, they like their social media they share everything, publishing the data.     1 y generation share

Is this book for everyone, no, I recommend mainly for Chief Information Officers and Marketing Officers.  Like I said above definitely try and hear Ayres speak.