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Tips for aligning IT with business for big data success

Executives talk about getting IT and execs on the same page for analytics implementation

Left to right: Martha Jane Avstreih-Ross; Ann Woloszynski; James Miller

Big data is not about the velocity and variety of data; it’s about how you use the data to push your organization forward. When IT execs talk about big data, they say they have to start with baby steps; they have to get buy in from many areas of the organization. Martha Jane Avstreih-Ross, Ann Woloszynski and James Miller give some tips for getting both IT and executives on board with analytics implementations and data governance policies that will help the organization make the most of data – big or otherwise.

Avstreih-Ross is Vice President of Enterprise Decision Support Systems at RBS Citizens Financial Group. She heads the Enterprise Data Initiative for the Citizens. The initiative aims to establish core infrastructure and capabilities that will allow RBS Citizens to do analytics reporting and modeling in a consistent way.

She says to start at the beginning. Avstreih-Ross says that her team spends a lot of time on education before they even begin writing code. “We visualize what success looks like to us in order to implement: What are we going to do with the analytics?” She says, “This helped define our needs. At Citizens, we aligned around revenue expansion.”

Miller says that getting buy in “starts with the mission. IT is super aware of the mission and this is making them very successful.” Miller is Vice President of Enterprise Decision Support Systems at USAA. He says much of their success lies in their approach. IT used to be very disciplined about requesting requirements from the business units before starting the project. Now there is a business unit representative sitting alongside the IT representatives.”

In some cases, though, outside powers help get stakeholders on board. Woloszynski, Administrative Vice President of Enterprise Risk Management at M&T, says that getting buy in was very difficult before CCAR Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review). “The requirements of the regulation meant that M&T needed to move quickly. So executives were no longer questioning why we were interested in analytics.”

She says that it can often be good to show results from the “fire drills” as examples of how analytics can help master other big data issues in the organization.

Other tips:

  • Promote the idea that data governance is a responsibility.
  • Be careful that you don’t push too hard; this can turn data governance into a dirty word.
  • Find a champion who can generate some awareness from the top.
  • Present tangible  results from other implementations, such as regulatory reporting, to help execs see the need in other areas of the organization.

Final advice from Miller: Business cycles are shorter now, so IT is trying to deliver within a couple of days. He suggests setting up a business intelligence lab to allow executives to experiment. This lab can help gather future requirements and create a sense of inclusion, ownership.

IT has the opportunity to not only drive business value but truly lead the organization. Read more about how you can help your organization can use data to be more competitive.

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