Getting Past the Metrics DisconnectBy Samuel Greengard | Posted 11-11-2014
If there's one thing every business and IT executive can agree on it's the need for metrics. Unfortunately, from that point forward the situation degenerates into a netherworld of chaos and confusion.
It takes only a quick glance at the overall woeful state of sales, service and support to recognize that many organizations are measuring the wrong things, or not enough things, or an incomplete collection of things.
"At an operational level, everybody's scorecard is green," says Sean O'Driscoll, a partner at consulting firm PwC. Unfortunately, "At an enterprise strategic level, the scorecard is red, and people are asking how this can happen and what they should do about it?"
In many cases, he adds, there's a lack of focus on business, technology and cultural change—and how to measure for impact. "Organizations keep doing the things they have done in the past because it is what they measure, instead of thinking differently about how to achieve a given outcome," O'Driscoll points out.
Here's an example: Let's say that IT nails metrics based on system uptime, Web performance and IT costs. Customer support nails metrics based on incident resolution rates, speed of resolution and costs. Yet customer ratings are trending negative, and customers are increasingly agitated and dissatisfied with service and support online.
In this imaginary case, a clunky knowledge base or failed social media approach could serve as the riptide, but since no one is measuring these things—or, at least, has them linked to key performance issues—they remain invisible.
One thing is absolutely clear: CIOs and other enterprise leaders must rethink, remap and rewire metrics to better reflect today's digital technology. In a world where business and IT are connected like the H and the O in H2O, there's a need—perhaps requirement is a better word—to view business activities beyond the flat earth of individual departments, technology tools and processes. Business is the combination of ecosystems, not the sum of disparate activities.
How best to approach the challenge and achieve meaningful results? It all comes down to a few essential things: Gain input from different players about what they require; fully understand the business case for different technologies—and how different information technologies impact performance; and, finally, tie everything to value and the customer.
In the end, it's not about the IT department, and it's not about marketing or customer service. It's all about connecting enterprise performance and results to the customer.
Samuel Greengard, a contributing writer for CIO Insights, writes about business, technology and other topics. His forthcoming book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press), will be released in the spring of 2015.