“Big data has the potential to improve your customers’ experience”
– Any Technology Publication Ever
Articles and blog posts are always touting the potential this or that information technology has to improve this or that aspect of your business. The problem is, many organizations then rush out and make purchases figuring those benefits are mere mouse-clicks away – except they are not.
Successfully deploying technology to enable significant business gains is more a function of project management than it is of technology. Sure, plenty of organizations really need new solutions to help them enable particular outcomes. But plenty of others have lots of technology that is either un- or under-utilized. Many times, these latter cases involve organizations that were built through merger and/or acquisition, and whose line-of-business units still work largely independently.
Either way, converting computing potential into operational performance requires approaching all the individual stacks and all the departmental processes as if they existed to serve a single business entity – which, of course, they do!
This means you must create one single plan under which you can address all the interrelated issues of what we like to call Extreme Governance: the “care and feeding” of both structured and unstructured information that may or may not fit into preestablished data schemes, records classifications, or document types.
Without getting all project-managementy on you, here are just a few of the critical elements you must address when developing your plan:
- Goal: what are we trying to achieve?
- Scope: which processes/departments, in what order? Or, put in our own favorite way, “what business problems are you trying to solve, and for whom?”
- Organization: who will be in charge, who will be affected, who needs to do what, and how do they all feel about this?
- Deliverables: what are we actually providing?
- Resources: what people, technology, and skills do we need for this program to succeed?
- Schedule: how much, how soon is realistic?
- Communication Plan: how can we best collect information from as well as give information to all affected parties?
- Risks: what happens if something goes wrong? What happens if we do nothing?
- Success Criteria: what metrics will we use to determine where we are now, where we want to be, and whether we’ve gotten there?
These types of issues are part-and-parcel of most IT initiatives, and they tend to get dealt with as a matter of course. But I’ve noticed that they often are lacking when it comes to information management initiatives, like as not because of how much their success relies on people’s acceptance of and compliance with new rules for handling of what they view as “their” information. Technology, you can usually browbeat into submission; people, not so much.
And therein lies the rub.
The myriad publications referenced at the top of this piece typically don’t get into all this – and maybe that’s OK since many aren’t chartered to do so. But it’s important that you not underestimate the amount of work it takes to turn technology’s potential into business performance. As many of you know, this kind of alchemy has been central to my branding for years, and that’s because helping organizations take it on is what I do. But not for nothing, that’s what you do too, whether you realize it or not, and your professional success depends upon your ability to do the lifting required.