by Vic Bhagat

Why we need to change our approach to measurement to drive innovation

Sep 28, 2017
CIODigital TransformationInnovation

How do we measure the true impact of IT on the ability of a business to innovate and provide better consumer experiences?

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As a CIO at an organization that assists other CIOs to deliver more value to their business, I often speak to peers to determine what they’re doing (or need to do) in their own businesses to drive results.To my mind, with the IT team generating so much data and a wealth of information readily available at the fingertips of the C-Suite, the key to determining our impact ultimately comes in calculating how we enable and drive revenue. And the primary way we can achieve that is by creating a better experience for consumers.

People like to be measured or, perhaps more accurately, measure one another. That’s human nature. Businesses – and IT functions, with our fondness for hard data in particular – are no different. However, while the desire to measure the true impact of IT on the success of a business is common, the ability to actually do so is much less usual.

Delivering real business impact

How can you put the right measurement approach and metrics in place to ensure you’re having an impact on customers and revenue, while still supporting and driving internal priorities such as innovation and “keeping the lights on”?

I believe the opportunities are endless if you can get the formula correct. For example, financial institutions can learn if they’re delivering on mobile banking applications for consumers, retailers can evaluate if their digital shopping experiences are translating to in-store purchase, hospitals can enhance medical care via direct communication… the list goes on and on across all consumer touchpoints in pretty much every industry.

How we measure our worth

Despite the power of IT and technology to drive business growth, enhance the consumer experience and deliver innovation, for most organizations metrics are still too old-fashioned. Many CIOs measure the success of a business by the success of the leader or CEO. Instead, CIOs need to show how their knowledge contributes to the organization’s bottom line and why they are still necessary and relevant

Currently, most companies are only analyzing information such as availability of resources, ticket open to ticket close times, and other similarly granular data. Here are four other factors CIOs may not be measuring, but should be:  

  • Process excellence: Delivers on revenue – leveraging technology to empower the salesforce, driving product innovation & accelerating deal closures. 
  • Simplification: Delivers on margin – implementing a new operating model to deliver on cycle time reduction enabling efficiency, using agile tech stack & robotics to drive automation and digitization. For example, factors contributing to why a customer calls nine times before reaching a representative.
  • Contemporary IT: Transforming IT to be more aligned to the business can dramatically improve performance and reliability. Verizon does this with a focus on three particular aspects:
    • IT Proven (leveraging our own products we use internally for our customers),
    • IT as a Service (leveraging depth of IT to help our own professional services offerings and create a benchmark for work with customers ), and
    •  IT organization (organizing IT in a way that enables all of the above for customers).
  • Security and compliance: Security and compliance must be built into the business every step of the way from development to cloud and cannot be an afterthought. The only way to achieve success means having security and compliance in the solution from the very beginning.

Evolving measurement to match our ambitions

To accurately evaluate the impact of IT, many CIOs need to change the way they approach metrics. The technology we deploy has changed vastly in the last decade but for many, measurement has not evolved at the same pace.

We need to be more flexible, and our measurement more elastic, than we might traditionally be used to and link performance as tightly as possible to the business and the experience of its customers. Focusing on these areas forces us to determine how to be problem solvers on a big picture level, as opposed to getting stuck in the weeds – which a focus on granular, traditional metrics can encourage CIOs to do.

Only by approaching measurement in the same way we want to be viewed – as strategic partners directly supporting the business – will we succeed in demonstrating why we deserve to be seen as such.