How to Use Analytics to Save Your IT Department

As times change, so does the role of IT. A generation ago, it had to embrace PCs and client/server solutions. Now IT departments are faced with the consumerization of technology. Could the same analytics that helps companies predict customer behavior help IT departments stay relevant?

By Rob Enderle
Fri, December 06, 2013

CIO — About every other decade, IT goes into decline. The 1980s was the first time I witnessed this; PCs, client/server solutions and outsourcing became the craze. IT recovered, embracing the changes. Now, a little more than 20 years later, we have BYOD and Web services doing much the same thing.

In both cases, IT was perceived to be too expensive and too hard to work with, so users moved to displace or replace this functionality with something else. So far, IT has recovered every time. But look at what used to be peer functions, like telephony and fleet services, and you'll see that these are gone, having been outsourced, eliminated or absorbed by another group. Survival is by no means certain.

The seeming disconnect between users and IT isn't causing the problem; that's just a symptom. The problem is that technology changes user perceptions more quickly than IT can anticipate. To fix that, you need analytics and marketing communications.

EMC Sets Example for Using Analytics to Track Customer Needs

Big Data Analytics

A conversation with an EMC executive several months ago got me thinking about this. EMC met with a big client and, on a lark, briefed the firm about customer analytics process inside EMC (using Greenplum). EMC monitor its customers closely and knows what's working and what isn't. EMC also know which customers are the most loyal and valuable — and which ones it would rather let a competitor take off its hands, since it's not worth the trouble despite the revenue its generates.

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The customer, a huge multinational, got upset — not because it was being monitored but because EMC hadn't offered the solution so it could do the same thing to its customers. The end result: Stronger, more satisfied customers and higher profits, thanks to greater customer retention and more sales to every customer.

In addition, analytics helps EMC decide where to spend its money, as it points to expenditures that a customer will prioritize over ones it doesn't care about. EMC's customer wanted this advantage for themselves, too. Given this power, I'm surprised that the process remains relatively unique to EMC and a few powerful customers who convinced EMC to share it.

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