My job changed. And so did yours.
We’re surrounded by headlines about how data scientists have the No. 1 Coolest Job at the moment. Rise of the geeks, software will eat the world. Companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Netflix are shaking up the world.
Analytics and big data are positioned as solutions to some of the world’s fundamental problems. Urban planning, smart cities, personal health care... No doubt about it, if you work in Information Management and related disciplines, you’re ‘IT’!
But how did we arrive at this point? Here are 10 factors driving change across the IT, business and data landscapes.
1.The users: Nobody talks about management information systems (MIS) anymore.
Time was when we used to work in Management Information Systems. Think again about those words: Yes, the customers for our systems were management. We gathered data, organized it, and presented it to managers in the form of dashboards and reports so that they could make better decisions. The users of information architectures that we’re designing now aren’t even necessarily in your company or human at all. A quick list would include everyone in your company and much stuff outside. Operational workers in all roles, suppliers, customers, smart devices. MI isn’t what it used to be.
2. The use case: Not just making money for finance.
We used to focus BI on finance-driven use cases, typically for the finance function. BI grew out of the need for accurate financial reporting. Now the use cases are diverse, from big to small. How to hire the best people? How to determine the best journey plan? How to optimize patient care? There is hardly a question in the world that can’t be answered more intelligently through the use of analytics. There is even a developing school of thought that sees technology and analytics as the solution to many of mankind’s most vexing challenges – social inclusion, global warming, food security... and that is very exciting.
3. The sources of information went exponential
Big data happened. Velocity, Variety, Veracity, Volume, and a load of other Vs. Data everywhere, sensors, social media, video, sound, geospatial. One day we’ll be adding echo location and smell. By taking information from everywhere we vastly increase the scope of questions that we can bring information analysis to bear on.
4. The name of the team has changed
We used to have a Management Information team. Then it moved to Business Intelligence, then Information Management, but now it’s analytics and digital transformation. In the case of my company we just reorganized and renamed from Business Information Management to Insights & Data. Why? I like to think it’s because we’re not just about business any more… it’s for everyone, and insight is the goal
5. The ‘how we do it’ has changed
More off-the-shelf packages that need to be assembled rather than specified and designed from scratch. The movement towards no requirements and emphasis on standardized small components that get plugged together. From an IT perspective we’re often more like orchestrators or assemblers than pure makers. The effort then is freed up for the designer, or the data scientist to create value from the system with less focus on the actual construction.
6. Delivery approach – getting agile
Along with the change in the look of our solutions we’ve changed the way we deliver projects. Gone or going are the days of multiyear waterfall data warehouse projects that deliver dubious value. In are the agile and iterative approaches that focus on value and eliminating big risks early. Thinking like start-ups we want our projects to start fast and fail fast.
7. Collaboration – who is in the team?
As the delivery approach changes so does the composition of the team. We’ve moved our efforts from onshore to offshore and perhaps they are coming back again? Perhaps, but offshore still has a big part to play I believe. What is happening, though, is a move towards greater collaboration between smaller teams and organizations. I’m interested to see what this means for the big consulting organizations like ours here at Capgemini. I think we’ll become collaboration hubs for many specialists.
8. The customer has changed – it’s not just the IT crowd
The IT function is getting smaller, it’s losing power, and is at risk of becoming irrelevant -- now that would be a pessimistic viewpoint. Perhaps exaggerated? But certainly the role and pressures are changing. Cloud, commodity IT, and direct-to-department selling have changed the landscape. IT becomes more of an enabler, thinking like a shopkeeper to deliver value – more like a ‘yes’ person rather than a ‘no’ person. I was at a big data conference last week and the majority of customers I spoke to were from non-IT functions like marketing, sales, HR.
9. The rise of digital
I don’t work in IT anymore. I work in digital transformation. Many companies are now creating chief digital officers or digital transformation leads. The emphasis is on disruption and transformation. We deliver value, not software, systems, or even projects... It’s a new paradigm of thinking that will even lead to new IP and service based ways of doing business.
10. Hipster imagery and the way we all dress
Have a look at the latest Capgemini branding around Insights & Data… You’ll see funky looking people in scarfs, check shirts, and flat caps smiling in big open plan offices… A far cry from the ties and formal suits that were our corporate image when I started out as a management consultant a decade ago. Oh, and we also have table football tables in the office.
The world is changing and we’ve changed with it. I think the profile of success has changed too. Different skills and profiles are valued and it isn’t just your ability to look good in jeans and a checked shirt. Adaptability, flexibility, collaboration, investigation and quick learning, orchestration, and a creative eye for business transformation are the new winners...
Can you think of anything I’ve missed?
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