For many, the true story-turned-movie Moneyball is a biological sports drama about how two Oakland A’s managers turned around a failing baseball team by overcoming outdated industry practices. But if you work in information technology, particularly with massive amounts of data, it’s hard not to see Moneyball as a business intelligence story — one that is especially powerful for IT leaders, and is even starting to spread to basketball and football leagues.
Until the world caught on to the secret weapon of the Oakland A’s, baseball insiders were relying on the same statistics — such as stolen bases, home runs and batting averages — that every other team was using to recruit players.
This system of only measuring the most popular statistics is comparable to businesses only measuring revenue or customer growth to show how to win against competition — these metrics alone won’t tell businesses, much less IT leaders, what they can do to gain competitive advantage. Instead, IT leaders, just like the Oakland A’s team managers, should take an analytical view of player performance to uncover better indicators of overall IT health and success. Here are a few ways for IT leaders to get more creative with what they measure:
Identify Unlikely MVPs: On-base and Slugging Percentages
The Oakland A’s broke the status quo by identifying (through statistical analysis) better indicators of offensive success, such as on-base and slugging percentages. IT leaders can do the same with IT analytics that take a deeper look and return new insights into which employees take the shortest or longest times to complete a specific IT work order or service request. Once presented with data, most IT leaders are shocked to learn that 50 percent of tickets miss the average resolution time.
One IT leader we partnered with was surprised when he discovered that once he removed password reset requests, the average resolution time for sales requests jumped by more than 3 times. For a fast-paced sales organization, that was a big efficiency barrier. To resolve this, managers can do some investigation to find data that shows what drives these longer lead times — the key to understanding how to shorten them.
Maintain Home-field Advantage: Environmental Factors
Baseball player performance isn’t just impacted by individual skillsets; environmental impacts are also important to analyze and track. Different coaching styles, other teammates, the weather and even the ballpark they’re playing in all influence how a player performs during any given game. This also holds true for workforces. For example, IT leaders can use analytics to measure how teams are impacted by environmental factors at work by asking questions such as:
• What types of managers are driving the highest-performing teams?
• How do certain seasons and holidays compare in service quality over time?
• What are the external drivers of call volume? New hires, product releases or upgrades?
By examining environmental impact, IT leaders can avoid repeating circumstances that cause systems to fail or break down.
Remain Competitive: Watch for Curveballs
In Moneyball, when the competition picked up on the A’s new strategy for recruiting players, they were fast to replicate them. The lesson here is for businesses to maintain a competitive advantage, analytics must be used on an ongoing basis.
The A’s did this by proactively looking for other undervalued baseball skills such, as defensive capabilities, to stay ahead of the competition. IT managers can do this by proactively seeking out data on events that impact the business — such as system failure, high ticket volumes or even spikes in productivity — and then track how these events correlate with business relevant items, such as store location and billing systems.
For example, one IT leader separated out revenue generating e-commerce systems and incidents that had any impact on those. Using analytics to see what systems stall or fail during busy periods will give IT leaders the insights they need to staff up team members in certain areas accordingly.
Analytics won the game of baseball, and it’s winning the game of business, too. Many businesses cite a lack of tools and resources as barriers to using data to enhance performance, cost and capabilities. But there are exciting new solutions emerging and, of course, great incentives for adopting analytics early – across all business units, but especially within IT – to spot the curve-balls and score some home runs.
(About the author: Gaurav Rewari is founder and CEO of Numerify)
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