Out in the open…

Organisations are flooded with more data points than ever before. For us as CIOs, the constant challenge is collecting, collating and interpreting it, in order to make something relevant, useful and actionable.

And it’s not just the sheer quantity of data that makes this challenge so daunting: it’s that new sources of data that are constantly emerging, too, as new services, capabilities and reporting methods come online. Some of these are more useful than others. But, in many businesses, there’s one vast and potentially incredibly valuable data source that simply goes unrecognised and untapped: service desk management systems.

Locked away in here are records of interactions with people right across the organisation. It’s a treasure trove of insights into all your internal customers’ working patterns, at a scale no other function can match. From these ‘day in the life’ records, you can build an amazingly detailed picture of how individuals, teams and the workforce as a whole consume technology and make use of the tools and services available to them.

This in turn allows you to start modelling and predicting behaviours, particularly around people’s responses to change. Combine this with experience data and you have some truly powerful data to support your business cases.

But producing this kind of actionable data is only one side of the equation. The other side is how you realise, measure and report its business value. And for many CIOs, this is a bit of a guilty secret. Because, if we’re honest, how many of us build value realisation into our business cases? Does the plan include a clear line to value – measurement points, assessments of whether we actually achieved the promised savings or efficiency gains, or even just a definition of what ‘good’ looks like? In some respects, this gap is a product of the context we work in. Non-specialist colleagues see what we’re proposing in isolation – it’s ‘an IT project’ – and therefore assume that a) we’re the experts and know what we’re talking about (which is true); and b) even if we explained it, they wouldn’t understand it (which is now probably less true than it was historically).

That’s not to say for a moment that we can’t actually show the value we add to our organisations; we just don’t prioritise it. Since we’re not asked, we don’t press the point, and we move on to the next important thing. As experienced professionals, we all have a gut feeling about how well a particular project has performed; what we’re sometimes not so good at is communicating that value in empirical, business-relevant terms. And before you ask; yes, I have to put my hands up and step into the searchlight too!

When we combine actionable data with value realisation, good things flow from it. The business cases are more robust and easier for us to present and others to understand. That means it’s more likely to secure backing and also smooths the way for subsequent proposals. The business itself has more understanding of what we as IT leaders are trying to achieve, and the benefits for overall performance. It might even help others get a handle on the CIO’s Dilemma! And not least, being able to demonstrate the value IT adds brings kudos to our teams.

If you’d like to find out more about the wealth of data locked up in your service desk systems and how you can draw that clear line to value, please drop me an email at [email protected]

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