Your org chart may be your problem
As humans we’re good at sorting things into piles — very young children can put all the blocks together in one pile, all the little animals together in another. It’s easy, and we can see the sense in it. Now that we’re grown up, we’re still tempted to group things together that seem similar, but sometimes it slows us down.
A lot of businesses group their analytics departments with their IT — all techies together, we think — they’ll keep each other company. But there are some genuine costs to this simple choice: when the IT department is in charge of the analytics department, we shouldn’t be surprised if analytics begins to elevate the priorities of the IT department, at the expense of the core values of the company. With analysts under the thumb of IT, the KPIs that are being delivered are about optimizing IT processes.
Claravine CEO Craig Scribner illustrates this point with a story about a deep regret surrounding a missed opportunity at his first web analytics consulting job. Working as a digital analyst within the IT department, he developed a set of corporate KPIs that his boss, the CIO, felt should be standardized company-wide. After developing some robust reports, he was assigned to give presentations throughout the organization, showing people the data that IT had made a priority. When he got to the VP of Sales, Craig could see that the reports were not warmly received. The VP said to him, “If you would just sit with me and my team for one day, and see what we’re doing, you would understand why these numbers aren’t working for me, why they are not reflective, and why they’re not helping us be more effective in our jobs.” But Craig didn’t report to the business, he reported to IT. There was a plan in place — and plans once in place have a way of defending their turf. And there were IT-oriented deliverables keeping him occupied. So he never did spend that day with the Sales VP that would have made such a difference. The people who needed to make use of the data for implementation had minimal input on the original data strategy — and the resulting data didn’t serve their business needs.
If your analytics are designed to fit the needs of IT, they may not be a good fit for the departments in the company that need them the most. Your Analytics group may not look like the other divisions with C-level offices, but if the group is going to contribute meaningfully, it needs robust connections to the key deciders in your company. It might be time to revisit your org chart.