In his series on the top tech stories of 2010, InformationWeek's Bob Evans says IT could be the department most jarred by the rise of business analytics.
He says vendors such as IBM, SAP and SAS talk about the need for two different conversations with business customers: One with line-of-business leaders who want to buy and use the technology and the other with IT, where the discussion tends to be more about features, deployment and management.
As a result, IT organizations that can't embrace these new analytics tools as engines of growth and customer engagement, and instead continue to view them through the lens of their technical features and deployment, will relegate themselves to permanent roles as back-office, non-strategic cost centers that are oblivious to business value and impediments to the real-time objectives of their companies.
If you think 2010 was a tough environment for people in those categories, just wait until 2011-as corporations realize that their ability to compete will hinge largely on their ability to not just deploy analytics widely and effectively but to master analytics widely and effectively, IT will become the gating factor between those two outcomes.
As my colleague Mike Vizard reported recently, IBM's analytics category is growing three times faster than traditional transaction-processing applications. And while software vendors keep working to make the technology simpler to use, there comes a time when companies have to act on the data delivered-and it's being delivered closer to real time than ever.
Ventana Research's Richard Snow told fellow blogger Ann All recently that "people don't really know how to use" data analytics. In this post on CTO Edge, she wrote that too many companies remain focused on data designed to improve their operations, not data that will improve the customer experience.
So is it any wonder that jobs dealing with analytics and data figure prominently in this list of hot jobs for 2011 by Robert Half International? Where there's a need, there's a job, or at least more indispensable skills.
If you don't do it, someone else will. Vizard reports that Frank Balboni, global business leader for business analytics and optimization at IBM, said he expects a fairly large number of third-party service providers to emerge to provide analytic-based services.
For the internal IT department, Evans writes:
For CIOs, the choice is clear: eagerly embrace and focus on the business value and customer-engagement benefits of analytics, or continue to see it as just another complex application that has to be jammed into the infrastructure and babysat.