For a long time, the CIO’s focus has been on managing the IT portfolio of networking, operating systems, middleware and applications an enterprise needs to operate. Each of these layers has specific systems and resources that are used to maintain acceptable levels of service, but it is not always easy to spot, let alone debug, issues about to impact system-level performance and scalability. On top of this demand, IT has to come up with compliance and governance policies. IT rarely has had budgets to spend on helping meet these types of needs and cannot apply the same level of analytics to its own operations that it provides to business.
The reality is that most IT organizations have been last in line for resources to build competencies and systems to access and integrate their own data in and about the IT portfolio. Usually these professionals have to make do with small sets of historical data in spreadsheets found in data marts that are not as well managed as the systems IT developed for business. To break out of this frustrating cycle, IT needs metrics and measurements that can be standardized and routinely generated by analytics on historical and real time data like events so that managers can determine the right level of automation and efficiency to demand from the technology. I recently pointed out the importance of this for IT (See: “Optimized IT and Focus on Information Technology in 2010”), and while some groups are acting on it, most are not. Establishing this sort of working intelligence starts with IT being the master of information for metrics about its own operations and systems that enable people to determine priorities for where improvements must be made.
To fully understand the state of their existing investments and processes, IT organizations should not just measure them with analytics but go to the next step and apply predictive analytics to develop insights on future outcomes of IT systems. This more sophisticated approach to analytics can help IT determine where to focus resources and what to do with legacy systems. Knowing this it is possible to prioritize precious budget dollars and justify IT investments more convincingly. IT should use analytics and planning systems to help set its own goals and objectives for the IT and business strategies of the organization. This innovative approach is IT performance management; so far I have found few organizations that have taken steps to actually manage performance and align, optimize and understand the range of IT processes and resources.
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Mark Smith – CEO & EVP Research