IT infrastructure is the organizational common denominator running across all of your business and operating units.
IT infrastructure can unite your organization structurally and functionally. Alternatively, IT infrastructure can divide and fracture your company.
IT infrastructure reflects your organization’s culture and business model.
IT infrastructure describes the set of hardware, software, databases, networks and facilities that develop, test, deliver, monitor, control and support IT services.
The power of analyzed information has the potential to become the fuel that runs data-driven organizations. Raw data that is accessible, analyzed and acted upon becomes your key to catalyzing growth and expansion.
Do your teams regularly extract and share insights from current data? Are these insights shared and leveraged to impact business and operational strategy?
Or would you describe your corporate culture as “Us versus Them”, pitting departments against each other? If so, that mindset will be reflected in your IT infrastructure. That mindset impacts your organizational decision-making.
Liberate Data from Departmental Data Kingdoms.
IT infrastructure governs how, when, where and why data is stored, extracted, combined and analyzed. In the best of all possible data-driven worlds, that data is accessible, shared and leveraged. However, in non-data-driven organizations, access to timely information is sequestered within departmental silos. Information is doled out sparingly and sporadically, with an air of exclusivity.
When IT departments remain “keepers of their data kingdoms” organizations remain mired in “what got us to where we are today” mindset. Data used for decision-making is anecdotal and experiential and/or outdated quantitative information. In these non-data-driven companies, teams lack tools and qualified personnel to analyze information and extract insights. These types of companies are non-competitive compared to organizations with data-driven cultures.
A recent study by Aberdeen Research, aptly named Winter is not Coming: Eliminating Data Silos and Ending Information Hoarding reports findings from 189 organizations in its 2015 Business Analytics survey. These companies currently struggle competitively due to limited data access as a result of data silos. I strongly encourage you to read the report in its entirety for full context of research, methodology and insights.
Key findings (pp 8-9) from this study include:
- While all organizations studied focus on becoming more competitive by becoming data-driven, top performers are 40% less likely to report problems with data silos.
- Organizations with cultures fostering data silos have difficulty improving user experience, speed of decision making and user trust.
- Data silos impede analytical decision-making and create negative user experience and hence less users per capita than top performing organizations.
- Best-in-Class organizations enable the free exchange of data, governed data discovery and data preparation in the line of business.
Let the children learn to play with one another.
The Aberdeen study compared these 189 organizations to top performing organizations (measured by year-after-year improvements in organic and operating revenue as well as availability of searchable/discoverable data). Comparisons between organizational structure, culture and performance were striking. Top-performers had taken solid steps to poke holes in data silos by deconstructing their departmental data hoarding cultures.
The result? Increased productivity and competitiveness.
Best in class top performing companies recognize that data silos are impediments to growth and expansion. Leadership in these organizations made the decision to wrestle with their own legacy corporate cultures and business models to achieve timely, data-based decision making and strategic planning. Their futures are driven by IT infrastructures committed to sharing information and analytics across corporate silos. Their futures are driven by CIOs who see their role as organizational catalyst.
Data silos force decision-making without data. (Aberdeen study, p6.)
How would you rate the health of your organization’s IT infrastructure and overall corporate culture? Are you data-driven and collaborative or mired in legacy mindset and departmental silos?
Collaborate leveraging your IT Infrastructure as Organizational Common Denominator.
When the leadership team views IT infrastructure as an organizational common denominator, teams become data-driven. Everyone starts rowing together. Corporate cultural mindset fosters collaboration.
When IT infrastructure functions to serve internal customers throughout the organization, IT personnel create a high level of positive customer experience and satisfaction. Workflow becomes horizontal, focusing on collaboration and throughput.
When business units focus on eliminating information access dead ends, everyone is better able to do their jobs accurately, productively and innovatively. Overall internal user experience is enhanced in corporate cultures of data-users. Teams and companies make better decisions more quickly.
Smarter organizations and smarter factories are powered by IT infrastructures which are moving towards embracing their role as organizational common denominator. Departmental silos are being deconstructed, although this will not happen overnight. Information is shared across the organization, with appropriate governance. Decision-making combines qualitative experiential insights backed up by quantitative analyses.
Every decision made in your company should be based on relevant, up to date information which is accessible and shared across business and operational units. IT infrastructure can become the organizational common denominator leveraging tomorrow’s business trajectory.
The decision is yours to make. Accessibility to timely and relevant information gets your organization “unstuck.” Otherwise you remain mired in today’s business mud, spinning your wheels. You remain order-takers instead competitively positioned innovators.
Babette N. Ten Haken is a strategist, analyst, author and blogger. Her focus: the interrelationship between teams, leadership and culture in technology and manufacturing. Her Workshops target excellence in the execution of strategy. Babette began her career in clinical research where she was asked to bring clarity to stalemated cross-functional conversations. Her Playbook of collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com. Photo source: iStock