Is CIO the perfect analytics evangelist for an organization?

A leading elevator manufacturing group helps transit over a billion people on a daily basis. Although it isn’t easy being one of the Big 4 elevator companies in the world by simply relying upon mechanical systems and equipment, but by wielding the power of analytics and digital transformation, it is possible.

It all started in 2009 when the company couldn’t deliver the kind of customer service it offers today. Back in the days, when there were elevator break-downs, the customer service workflows were manual and it operated through call centers. Today, the company has seen an unprecedented growth in customer service automation, thanks to the digitalization/digitization and analytics which are helping it position itself better against competition.

This is how it works. The embedded technology feeds huge volume of data on elevators to the company’s back-end systems, where an analytics engine processes up to 200 million data points every day. Today, the company’s customer service processes are streamlined and shortened; technicians are not only getting real-time alerts when problems arise, but they also know about potential future issues and can respond even before there’s an outage. The manufacturer’s  digital initiative and leveraging of predictive analytics and big data algorithms enabled it to tackle broader problems by anticipating the technical snags occurring in the equipment and spare parts inventory.

Did the company appoint a dedicated Chief Analytics Officer to lead this digital initiative? No. In fact, the whole program was driven by the CIO’s team. This is one of many examples of how the CIO can lead the successful implementation of analytics in an organization.

Organizations are keen to spend on analytics, but the question is who will lead this change?

Most of the organizations today realize the importance of analytics and are willing to make investments. According to Gartner, IT organizations are expected to spend US$81 billion on business analytics and related services in 2014. IDC forecasts that technology organizations are expected to spend US$24 billion by 2016 on Big Data alone. While organizations are willing to invest, there is a clear need for someone to take the lead within an organization and act as an ‘analytics evangelist’. We believe that CIOs in every organization are in the ideal position to efficiently fill this role.

Why are CIOs the best fit to drive analytics?

CIOs are well placed and competent to help organizations drive their analytics journey. They can identify the right data, validate it and communicate it to the right people at the right time.

  • Given that most enterprise data warehouses are managed by CIOs and their teams, they have access to data from multiple systems and the technology to process it.
  • Typically, there are three skills required for successful delivery of analytics — a business analyst, a data engineer and a data scientist. While data scientists are not critical for all the analytics projects, CIOs team is perfectly placed to play the role of data engineers and business analysts.
  • According to an EY survey, 48% of C-suite executives feel that CIOs do not get involved in discussing business performance and challenges. There is a growing interest among the CIO community to change this and leading the analytics adoption can be an opportunity for CIOs to get closer to the business.

Considering their distinct advantages, the opportunity for CIOs to build and manage organizations’ portfolios of analytics capabilities, supporting business performance, has never been greater. The prize is transformation of an IT organization from pure technology provider to a business advisor, enabler and partner. CIOs who support analytics can enable a real competitive advantage for their organizations by helping them to:

  • Move from a retroactive and intuitive decision-making process to a proactive data-driven approach
  • Build models that more closely predict future scenarios and their related opportunities and problems
  • Uncover hidden patterns and relationships in company data

Where to start?

Analytics has a big role to play in all aspects of business, including in providing customer insights, marketing, finance and HR. While all of these have high-impact, CIO teams are dependent on these functions to get started, and this may lead to dilution or delays in reaping the benefits of leveraging analytics. However, considering that “opportunities multiply as they are seized,” a good starting point would be to leverage analytics within IT organizations.

How can analytics help to improve the efficiency of IT departments?

Let us look at some examples of analytics that can be adopted by IT organizations:

  • Incidence analytics: This involves analyzing system logs and alarms to recognize trends and patterns and identify early warning signals in order to take remedial action. For example, IT departments have access to users’ behavior, anomalies in networks, downtime of systems, violation of policies, internal threats and regulatory compliance-related alarms. These can be monitored by IT departments by conducting log forensics analysis to understand where the infection originated — at which machine, in which department and in which network segment, and so that appropriate gateway protections can be installed.
  • Trouble ticket review: This involves analyzing trouble tickets raised for various issues/requests and can help in identifying areas of concern. Preventive and remedial action can be taken to ensure fewer trouble tickets. For example, an organization rolled out a secured printing solution in one of its locations and the names of the printers were changed. Consequently, there were many trouble tickets raised relating to this issue. A detailed analysis of the scenario indicated that while configuration of printers was an issue, the main one was explaining to users how they could collect their printouts. Based on this learning, configuration of the printers was “pushed” to the users. In addition, videos/reference guides were circulated to them much before the actual rollout, resulting in far fewer trouble tickets.

With such unique advantages and the significant scope for adoption of analytics in functions, CIOs and IT organizations have the potential to become leaders in adoption of analytics in their organizations and lead them on this journey.

Upendra Sai, Director, Analytics has also contributed to this article.

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