Gregory Lewandowski manages the analytics, visualizations and reporting for Cisco’s worldwide partner organizations, which make up about 80 percent of the tech and networking vendor’s business. But before Cisco designed any dazzling visualizations for users, Lewandowski and his team instituted a “relentless” attitude to governance with Cisco’s in-house and market data.

“In the past I’d say 'no' [to ad hoc requests] because we simply couldn’t have different sets of data running around. But that's the wrong conversation, where you spend 30 minutes over whose data is right. So we learned to be deliberate with models and definitions,” he says.

With governance in place, Lewandowski built out partner analytics models and helped with a freeware database that cranks out self-service reports for 100 people per quarter. That brought him back to the data visualizations that were put off until governance was in place. With a background in finance “but fluent in IT,” Lewandowski sees the maturation of data visualizations, dashboards and mobile access as new levers to partner retention, risk management and sales.

“These data visualization and exploratory data applications are starting to collapse both the business and IT worlds. They’re starting to overlap a lot and I think it’s a good thing to have people in hybrid roles, where you have business-first knowledge plus those technical skills to be able to understand the data,” he says.

Quotable: “Simplicity is key to projects. I don’t want to get a massive project document. I’m not going to look at it. I don’t want a project plan that goes out over years. It’s going to be hard to support that. I want to work in a very iterative way and talk to people [and] work collaboratively on something. I want to see things from the perspective of my customer, deliberate in design and simple.”

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