Archives For Analytics

I am presently waiting in the Boston Airport for my flight home to Seattle after attending the “8th MIT Chief Data Officer & IQ Symposium” this week and wanted to reflect on the above while the thoughts were still swirling around in my head.

The Symposium was extended by 1/2 day to support discussion on “Bridging the Data Science Talent Gap”. There were presentations from Industry, Consultants/Recruiting & Academia with almost a singular focus on the so-called “Data Scientist” (a fictional character resembling a Unicorn in my opinion) and how to create them, find them and leverage them for success. As expected given the demographics of the audience and the presenters the point of view was very much through the lens of technology with a smattering of business speak to provide some balance.

What was so obviously absent from the entire dialog was the role of Business Executives as Leaders of the Data & Analytics Initiatives across their enterprises. Instead, they were relegated to the role of providing the vision (a very limited one), funding, head count requisitions, capital investment funds, consulting contracts, etc. in support of the Chief Data and Analytics Officers, the CIO/CTO and Other Interested Parties and their plans of action. A clear belief was indicated by many that Business Executives were just not up to the task of Leadership. Why is that one should ask?

From my vantage point as an Executive Consultant I have seen this dynamic play out many times and the root case is that the Senior Executive Team is “Missing in Action”. There is a total disconnect between the Strategic Leadership that they provide and the requirements to successfully execute the Disruptive Strategy that Data & Analytics portends. This must change and immediately.

Today’s Senior Executive is not shy when it comes to expansion of their operational portfolios or the pursuit of risky endeavors such as Credit Default Swaps (CDS), Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), etc. especially when it feathers their nest or vanquishes the competition. However, when it comes to Data & Analytics they are Missing in Action (MIA). This situation has created a management conundrum. Senior Executives cannot be Masters of their Universe when they do not understand the fundamentals of Astrophysics. In other words, their strength (and success) manifests from deep domain knowledge and acumen and applying these to creating sources of competitive advantage for their organization, not cheerleading a disruptive change in their business model which they neither understand nor can work from a position of strength to drive to success. In spite of being strong believers (and advocates) for Data & Analytics the vast majority of Senior Executives are not Analytics Literate. They have never worked in an evidence (or fact) based decision making environment, much less one where everyone across the Enterprise leverages Information & Insights in every task they are responsible for. I could go on for quite a bit more here, but will leave that for later.

I believe that we need to immediately change the dialog in the Data & Analytics Community from “Big Data, Data Scientists, Chief Whatever Officers, Data Lakes, etc.” and focus on Executive Leadership Development (not IT) and determine how to put the entire Senior Leadership Team on a trajectory where they can ultimately assume the Full Accountability for all Strategic Outcomes from applicable Data & Analytics Strategies and Plans. If we do not change this Organizational Dynamic in short order all bets are off.

I will be developing an overview of how to accomplish this in my upcoming series (and presentations) on what I am calling “The Data Leadership Nexus”. Look for an overview of this in early August.

RL

July is shaping up to be a busy month in terms of Editorial that I will be pushing out.

Below is a handy reference:

July 2nd – IBM Big Data & Analytics Hub – The Privacy Corner: – “Data brokers: Just how much should they know about you?” – http://ibm.co/1j9vXNK

July 3rd -16th – IBM Developer Works – “Champion Spotlight” – (http://ibm.co/1j2NyfB)

July 11th– InfoMgmtExec.me Blog – “Transformational Leadership for Big Data & Analytics Success (series)Part 2.- “Top Down Accountability”

July 15th – Information Age – July 2014 Digital Issue – “Leadership in the Age of Disruption” – (http://bit.ly/1sU3yol) http://www.information-age.com

July 23-25th – The 8th MIT Chief Data Officer & Information Quality Symposium (Cambridge, MA) – Live Commentary Twitter: InfoMgmtExec & Daily Blogging: Infomgmtexec.me

July 20th– InfoMgmtExec.me – “Transformational Leadership for Big Data & Analytics Success (series)Part 3.- “Organizational Design & Cultural Adoption”

Week of July 21st: Live Blogging from MIT Chief Data Officer & Information Quality Symposium

End of July – August & September: IBM Big Data Hub – The Privacy Corner: “Privacy & Social Experimentation”, Information Age (September Issue): “The Data Leadership Nexus”

 

Churchill_V_sign_HU_55521As many readers of my articles, blogs and other social media postings well know I am a strong advocate for Business Leaders taking full accountability for all of the Big Data & Analytics strategies & initiatives employed across their enterprises. This accountability manifests from the fact that they are not only positioned at the pinnacle of all strategic endeavors within their organization, but have full responsibility for the stewardship of all Assets as they are defined in both a tangible and intangible fashion. Having said this the $64,000 question that lingers is: “Are they prepared, much less competent enough to take on this accountability?”. The answer for the most part is a resounding NO.

Why is this? As I outlined in my June 2014 article in IBM Data Mag (http://bit.ly/1vvhwea) and April 2014 article in Information Age (http://bit.ly/1j16Vk6), the paramount issues regarding the successful adoption and exploitation of Big Data & Analytics are two-fold: Business Leadership Shortcomings & Lack of Cultural Adoption. Both are very much inter-related and one takes its cue from the other i.e. Culture follows Leadership for the most part. The articles speak to the specifics in more detail than what I will address here, but let me excerpt a few salient quotes;

  • “Today’s Executives & Managers are trained primarily in Operations, Finance, Marketing & Sales, along with a bit of Strategy thrown in for good measure. If you review the profiles of the vast majority of senior executives about 50% have an advanced degree in their field of expertise (MBA, JD, CPA, etc.) but virtually none have been schooled in Decision Science, Information Theory, Analytics or Risk Management.”
  • “Organizations’ remain hierarchical in both structure and cultural behavior today. To change either of these requires engaged & competent Senior Executive teams who are committed to the outcome and will influence & align behaviors to support it.”
  • “The Big Data & Analytics paradigm is based on the notion that Organizations must more fully exploit their information assets and move to a culture of fact-based & data-driven decisioning in order to create new sources of sustainable competitive advantage in a disruptive world around them. To accomplish this, you clearly must engage all elements of the organization, not just a select few. Everyone must make this cultural shift away from hierarchical thinking & “gut-based” decision making to one where the full hierarchy is empowered based on their role & responsibilities to perform analysis and to make decisions as close to the “customer” as possible”

Based on all of this, I will get back to the theme of this posting; “The need for true Transformational Leadership to insure the pervasive success of Big Data & Analytics”. This was the message that I hammered on during this week’s #CXOAnalytics tweetchat with Tom Davenport and John Lucker (Deloitte, who sponsored the tweet-up) and will continue to reinforce at the upcoming MIT #CDOIQ event as well as in my presentation at October’s “Data Leadership 2014” event in London (http://bit.ly/1wFl2n2). I cannot emphasize to everyone enough that we are not going to solve this challenge by appointing Chief Data Officers, Chief Digital Officers, etc. to act as “Communicators and Influencers” between the IT Organization, Risk Management and Business Leadership. No matter what the pundits say and prognosticate, it is not a sustainable model and distracts from the true issue at hand – “Getting Business Leaders to rise to their Accountabilities”.

In my management consulting experience, much less as an executive in senior roles across my career, I have never seen Business Leaders shrink away from the opportunity to take on more and more strategic responsibilities in order to grow their portfolios as well as to deliver transformational results to their business. So why are they not taking ownership of Big Data & Analytics? We know that they are out there cheerleading these efforts based on customer testimonials and event presentations, but virtually none of these same folks “own, much less are fully accountable for its success (or failure)”. Most continue to leave this to IT or some surrogate. I believe that this is due to a lack of any fundamental competency, acumen and mastery in information theory, data science and analytics which leaves them extremely deficient in confidence, vision and leadership potential. In other words, “You cannot lead if you don’t understand what it is you are asked to lead”.

To overcome this we must take actions in the following areas;

1.- Define, Fund & Execute – Mentoring, Coaching and Instructional Programs to bootstrap the current generation of Business Leaders up the level of knowledge (and confidence) required to Lead existing Big Data & Analytics endeavors.

2.- Identify candidates for Next Generation Leadership roles and Mentor & Educate them to advanced levels of competency and acumen such that as they mature into more senior roles they have both the foundation in Big Data & Analytics required, but the hands-on leadership skills (and organizational knowledge) to succeed.

3. – Engage with the Organization’s Culture at Large to make the Big Data & Analytics Vision and its exploitation “Job No.1” for everyone. This engagement requires not only top-down leadership to drive it, but appropriate Change Management and Organizational Design experts to facilitate Cultural Adoption in the Transformed Organization.

These three points each merit a number of detailed follow-up postings which i will focus on for the balance of this Summer, but I did want to live up to the spirt of my title; you need “Transformational Leadership to achieve Big Data & Analytics Success”.

Cheers,

RL


June in the PNW

After a very long journey back from the UK including sleeping on a bench in Terminal 6 at LAX (along with many other Stranded Passengers & Generally Homeless Folks) I am now back in Washington where Spring has finally arrived in all of its glory (you can just see Mt. Rainier in the background, a barometer of good weather here). It is a welcome sight given how grim it was when I left at the beginning of May.

I begin my summer with a flurry of activity including; two pieces for IBM this month; 1x for the Big Data Hub Privacy Corner on “Privacy, Big Data & Analytics: A Perfect Storm” (http://bit.ly/SAC9qX) and 1x on “Attaining Big Data & Analytics Literacy” for the IBM Data Magazine (due sometime soon) and the roll-out of the digital version of my Information Age article “Why you still don’t need a Chief Data Officer” appears.

I will be following these up with new pieces on Privacy, Analytics Leadership and a no doubt controversial piece with a working title of: “What do Chief Data Officers and their Advocates do besides attend conferences, engage in shameless self-promotion and search for Unicorns?” Stay tuned for updates on these.

One of the highlights of the Summer will be the MIT CDO & Info Quality Workshop in Cambridge in late July where I hope that we can have a “CDO Throw-down” to liven things up. I will be reporting live from this event which should be a great build up for the Information Age “Data Leadership 2014” Event in London this fall.

Cheers & Ta for now.

RL

My month long visit to the UK winds down today. I travel back to the PNW tomorrow and will hopefully be greeted by better weather than when I left.

For the past two weeks I have been staying in Nethy Bridge in the Highlands at my friend Bob’s estate – Aultmore. For anyone contemplating a visit to this area it is an excellent option to consider.

I spent my fortnight re-familiarizing myself with the area having lived here in the past. I made a visit to Glencoe and the Great Glen, the Cairngorms, Findhorn, Laggan, Spey Bay, Elgin and many other stops along the Spey.

The highlight of my visit was my weeks’ fishing on the Spey at Craigellachie, a fantastic 3-mile beat on the middle Spey. No caught fish to report, but it was fabulous being back on the water again and working my way through all of the pools and fast water with my new Sage gear.

I was also very pleased to see that the Craigellachie Hotel is now open again after its major refurbishment (the whisky bar there is one you must visit), along with visible signs of major progress at the Macallan distillery in its expansion efforts. I also enjoyed some great food and drink in Aberlour at the Spey Larder and newly updated Aberlour Hotel.

In total my “May in the UK” was a very successful and relaxing trip. I participated in a number of great events in London, along with getting deep into the planning for Data Leadership 2014 this fall where we will focus on supporting business leaders in assuming their natural accountability for their organizations Big Data & Analytics endeavors.

Finally, I met with a number of my strategic planning peers at the Strategic Management Forum and Strategic Planning Society where we got deep into “all things strategy”. Some great things on the horizon for both of these bodies which I strongly support. Stay tuned for more developments on this front.

Look for my next posting on the IBM Big Data Hub (June 8th) where I will get deep into the challenges associated with Big Data, Analytics & Privacy. My Information Age June article “Why you still don’t need a CDO”, has created a lot of interesting dialog which will continue to build as we get ready for the MIT CDO & Info Quality confab (July – Cambridge) where I am hoping that we can have a true ‘CDO Throw Down”.

Cheers,

Richard