While working for a number of large companies over the years, one of the experiences that stuck with me was when I was in IBM and discovered we weren’t using the new technology we were selling. Our pitch was that if you replaced our old stuff with our new stuff, the ROI would pay the cost in terms of increased productivity within a reasonable number of months. But our own IT departments, which got this stuff at cost, couldn’t seem to justify deploying it. When braced on this, our then-CEO Louis Gerstner said something to the effect of, “would you rather I focus on deploying this stuff myself or on helping our customers get the benefit?” I remember thinking, why is that a choice? It wasn’t like we were struggling with a shortage; in fact, since we were in turnaround, we had excess capacity.
Another time, I was called into HP to present on IT technology. I thought I was presenting to the folks who designed it, only to find I was presenting to HP’s IT department and they wanted to know what to buy. This felt like going to Ford and having someone ask me who they should buy a car from. And the last anecdote I want to add was when I was sitting in an Intel meeting and listening to them present why firms should replace laptops every two years, only to point out that the folks in the room had five-year-old laptops.
These separate experiences all relate to my insights on today’s analytics products and the user groups they are designed for – or not designed for.
Analytics is a large and growing market but I’m kind of shocked at how few technology companies (and large analyst firms) use it. I think part of the problem is that, up until now, IT was asked to deploy the solution, but there wasn’t a solution for IT. That just changed with BMC’s TrueSight Intelligence. And I think the user group this is targeted toward is actually a bigger deal than what this product is.
The Problem with Analytics
I’ve been covering analytics from the start and I think the biggest problem is that few decision makers actually have a clue how to use this tool. The need for the tool seems to have an inverse relationship to the people who actually use it. For instance, the folks who need analytics the most are CEOs, but they are likely so far removed from current technology that they are nearly technically illiterate, and data scientists who know how to use the tool typically aren’t even in the chain of command.
This is one of the core reasons why so much effort is going into making analytics tools vastly easier to use, but the typical bridge organization, IT, often has little experience outside of implementation with tools like this.
So, to net this out, not only don’t the executives know how to correctly use these tools but the folks they generally depend on for help generally don’t either.
This situation is why I think TrueSight is more important for what it is than what it does. Yes, it does what an analytics tool is supposed to do: It quantifies and reports key metrics so that IT can make far better decisions. But, more importantly, it teaches IT – the folks who should more easily learn the tool in the first place because they have to remain far more current with technology tools — both the nature and the need for analytics.
With TrueSight experience, IT should become a true analytics advocate and be far better able to help executives use analytics tools. IT will also be able to help executives make better choices when selecting analytics tools, because they’ll have a better grasp on how to measure the quality of a tool like this.
So, with a tool like TrueSight, IT not only becomes more capable of making data-sourced decisions, they become far better at helping the rest of the company wrap their heads around this entire class of tools.
Wrapping Up: Helping IT Help the Company Be Successful
Tools are important, but just as important is the skill set necessary to use them. The problem that analytics faces is that the oldest and most powerful executives are the most removed from current technology and the most set in their way of making decisions. Often, this doesn’t bode well for the results of either the analytics efforts or the related decisions. If IT can learn to use and value analytics tools themselves, they can better perform one of the critical bridge roles they have traditionally had: helping users learn to properly use the tools they are given.
There is no doubt in my mind that TrueSight Intelligence is useful to IT. What folks may not realize is that it may also be critical to the effective use of analytics in general by the company and thus its overall operational success. Something to noodle on this week.
Rob Enderle is President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward-looking emerging technology advisory firm. With over 30 years’ experience in emerging technologies, he has provided regional and global companies with guidance in how to better target customer needs; create new business opportunities; anticipate technology changes; select vendors and products; and present their products in the best possible light. Rob covers the technology industry broadly. Before founding the Enderle Group, Rob was the Senior Research Fellow for Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group, and held senior positions at IBM and ROLM. Follow Rob on Twitter @enderle, on Facebook and on Google+