Governance, Analytics and Standardspost by Chris Curran on May 6, 2010
Today was the first day of MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) sponsors board meeting. CISR is a research program funded by 70+ companies that looks into important strategic management issues facing IT and its leaders. While the center’s name has “information systems” in its name, the groundbreaking research it produces is more about the planning, governance, investment, risk and innovation approaches that add the most to businesses, rather than software or specific technology issues.
To start out the session today, Jeanne Ross posed a simple question to the 50 IT leaders in the audience, who span industries and come from all corners of the globe. The question was in three words, describe what you do to get the most value from IT. The Wordle cloud shows the results, with the largest words representing those words with highest frequency. The top 3 words/themes were:
My friend Steve Romero will be happy to know that governance was by far the first choice. Honestly, I’m surprised that this would be the top choice as it doesn’t jump out as something that is associated with value. The responses here say otherwise. Maybe it’s because governance is seen as the mechanism to maximize the efficiencies, sharing and standards efforts IT works so hard to develop? I’ve always wondered if treating governance as a separate thing is a good idea as opposed to building the checks and balances into the core processes used to run IT. Like it or not, IT governance is here to stay and there are some good lessons to learn in doing it well and how not to do it.
The second theme is analytics, which isn’t a word according to my spell checker, but it a term I have used plenty of late. It refers to the need to deliver some return on the millions we have spent collecting and storing data. I suspect it has gained more momentum now that many organizations have completed or are nearing completion of large ERP efforts and need to figure out what’s next. Some of it may also be due to the market buzz generated by books like Freakonomics. For some great reading on business analytics, check out John Sviokla and Tom Davenport’s piece on business analytics in healthcare and Diamond’s blog, The Information Advantage.
Standards are everywhere. While the first thought may be about adding value by standardizing laptops or DBMS software, there are some important business process standards that IT can drive. Jeanne has a simple but powerful framework to help companies think about the way that business process standardization will drive the resulting business model.
The most profound thing to me about the responses to this simple question are how, aside from analytics, very few of them focused on things outside of the IT operation. Yes, a few said things like flexibility, agility and competition, but not as many as I would have hoped.