Gartner Blog Network

Upgrade your Data (and Analytics) Strategy – Now!

by Andrew White  |  November 1, 2019  |  Comments Off on Upgrade your Data (and Analytics) Strategy – Now!

I was up at 4am last Saturday (before Orlando Symposium) in order to watch England take on New Zealand in the first semi-final of the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan. I certainly didn’t feel as tired as I thought I would at the end, probably since England won the match! So, I enthusiastically brewed my coffee and plunged into the weekend papers a little later.

In the Opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal I saw an article that caught me attention: “Why ‘Strategic Plans’ Are Rarely Strategic – or Effective”. The article was exploring how strategic plans are developed and what they really mean. The main angle was from the point of view of a university, but the point was related to business too:

  • They (strategies) take too long to draft or define
  • They tend to be vague overall
  • They are filled with platitudes and principles
  • They end up not being that relevant to what actually takes place in the organization

The article reflects a lot of what we have seen over the years. Only 3 years ago (see Data and Analytics Strategies Need More-Concrete Metrics of Success) where we reviewed all the data strategies we had seen in the previous couple of years and less than 15% of them had concrete measurable outcomes. Most of these strategies were effectively based on faith, hope, and charity. And all too often we will see strategy documents stuffed to the gills with principles and guidelines, mostly in the first page or two with reference to goals (albeit vague) later in the document.

We have tried mightily to help organizations recognize what strategy is meant to be. And it’s nothing like the upwards, and sometimes exceeding, the 200-page document examples we see every day. We have been articulating a business-driven data strategy for many years. Over ten years ago I was part of a team that led to the creation of Enterprise Information Management (EIM). Most recently, In the 2019 EIM Hype Cycle, we defined it as: an integrative discipline for structuring, describing and governing information assets to drive business outcomes (see Hype Cycle for Enterprise Information Management, 2019)

EIM suggested a need to directly connect to business outcomes, and a model was developed to help clients implement EIM: the seven building blocks of EIM.  The EIM building blocks could be used to organize the work and alignment of all your data and analytics initiatives. Vision and Strategy were critical components that sought to embed the importance of data and analytics in a business context or strategy. That was the plan, but too often IT and D&A teams were perceived or felt they were seen as services-based teams.  They had a real hard time suggesting that data strategy should be part of, or even drive, the business strategy.

As if to reinforce the difficulty in accepting of these ideas, a large analytics and BI vendor (shorty to be acquired by SAP) renamed part of their technology offering as EIM. That was Business Objects. EIM is not a technology; but at a stroke, such a move reinforced to IT, CIO’s and D&A leaders that they could buy EIM to implement a service.

It’s 2019 and now we have a new model for Chief Data Officers, other D&A leaders, and CIO’s to develop a business-based, data-driven strategy.  And it comes with a refreshed operating model to help improve the execution and implementation of the strategy.

The new model explains the high-level interaction between the business vision, stakeholders and their outcomes, and value proposition. The operating model provides the execution capability to realize the strategy. Our original EIM building blocks have been modernized, taking advantage of newly positioned business relevance. If you are using our current research tools and models, you can continue to do so as they ‘plug in’ to the new Strategy and Operating Model. The better news is the same rigorous, methodical work persists in execution; and strategy is elevated further into the business, for the business, by the business.

Finally, as if reinforce the dialog, I’d love to refer to world beating formula 1 team Mercedes. The team has won a record setting five world team championships this year. I quoted Team Principle, Toto Wolff, in his definition of strategy. It is this: “Strategy is learning by doing”.


Additional Resources

View Free, Relevant Gartner Research

Gartner's research helps you cut through the complexity and deliver the knowledge you need to make the right decisions quickly, and with confidence.

Read Free Gartner Research

Category: data-and-analytics  data-and-analytics-strategy  enterprise-information-management-eim  

Andrew White
Research VP
8 years at Gartner
22 years IT industry

Andrew White is a Distinguished Analyst and VP. His roles include Chief of Research and Content Lead for Data and Analytics. His main research focus is data and analytics strategy, platforms, and governance. Read Full Bio

Comments are closed

Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.