Bridges, Not Battlefields: Avoiding the Business Intelligence Disconnect Between CEOs and IT
by Christian Ofori-Boateng on Aug 25, 2020 12:43:00 PMBusiness intelligence is not a program or a system but a concept and a goal — the better you can define this concept and your goals, the more it will work for you and your organization.
Leading By Intelligence and Sensitivity
We are all motivated by inspiring leaders capable of displaying both intelligence and a sensitivity of human needs and drives. Cold calculating intelligence on its own can overlook the larger picture that creates satisfaction with an accompanying sense of worth and value. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, intelligence refers to "the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills." We expand this terminology to also include the ability to effectively communicate such acquired knowledge and skills to others, since we do not live in a vacuum.
The root of most problems and failures in business today stem, not from intelligence failures, but communication breakdowns. Knowledge and intelligence soon reach dead ends when there are no other parties with which to exchange and analyze important data. Intelligence cannot thrive in isolation, but should be viewed as a resource capable of enriching and expanding our current possibilities and framework of operation.
The role of the CEO is to ensure a rich and vibrant landscape in which business intelligence is provided the room to grow and spread its roots, always seeking new territories to discover and new opportunities to unveil.
The Conflicting Demands of the CEO
The Chief Executive Officer is often juggling between pleasing the shareholders and motivating their team. It would be ideal if shareholders and team players saw themselves on the same side, but this is not usually the case. Shareholders are more interested in short-term bottom lines, which drives them to demand immediate information in the form of reports, many of which are designed to appeased stockholders, not inform them. Unfortunately, this places unfair pressure on the CEO to deliver the information demanded by shareholders, typically causing a barrage of demands on the IT team to produce reports which deliver only a partial and inaccurate picture. Even more maddening for IT is being aware that these reports are used as placebos to relieve any imagined shareholder anxiety, not to actually inform them of trends and directions forged by the business.
Because shareholders rarely grasp the true value and significance of business intelligence, their appreciation of this division is lacking. This in turn positions them to demand explanations from the CEO for the business intelligence budget, which they then want to pare back. This short-term bottom-line approach, where expenses are slashed simply because the shareholders cannot appreciate the real value of such a system leads to the inevitable hampering of performance. This type of negative self-fulfilling business prophesying limits the intelligence capacity of your system, further proving stakeholders right at the cost of future profits and performance.
Resolving Conflicting Demands
The CEO, while answerable to both shareholders and employees, is tasked in finding solid and reasonable solutions that will please the ever-impatient stockholders, while fulfilling the real function of the organization, which is to direct future growth towards increasing profits and participation with the world of commerce.
Improving Internal Communications
Improving internal communications can open pathways for future success. When you have the understanding and empathy of your IT team, you are more likely to communicate your needs effectively. There is no need to make the shareholders bad guys; rather, when your IT team views them as less informed by virtue of their minimal involvement in daily operations, you can more easily recruit your IT team to your side.
This also means you can step up to the plate for them, backing them up when shareholders begin questioning their value and cost. Instead of yielding to their demands, being in better communication with your IT department allows you to speak with authority and knowledge about unreasonable demands. Once shareholders are informed of the cost and minimal value of extraneous reports they demand, such requests fall to the wayside. Many demands by shareholders can be acceptably answered with a "No," followed by a clear explanation as to why such a request is counterproductive.
Educate Your C-Suite
Your C-Suite is not expected to utilize business intelligence, but it is certainly of utmost importance they understand and appreciate its value. A proper introduction and demonstration of the power of business intelligence, along with simple training to expose your C-Suite to the true potential of this process, is crucial. Nothing does a better job of convincing your C-Suite than showing its capabilities.
Once your C-Suite grasps the relevance and value of business intelligence, you will find the use of data analytics and business intelligence just got a huge lift.
Focus on Collaboration and Synergy
Business intelligence is not a standalone function; it performs optimally in the midst of activity. Such performance will naturally accrue in a collaborative and synergistic environment, which makes it essential to set the tone for interdepartmental communications and strategizing. Too often, we got lost in the parts of the whole, instead of seeing our holistic role within an organization.
By fostering a collaborative environment, you establish a setting in which synergy naturally arises and occurs. Interview the people involved in a synergistic relationship and you discover a group of people who have learned how to leverage their own energy and creativity through the energy and creativity of valued colleagues.
Keep in mind that these methods for resolving conflict and building synergy are ongoing processes; using this approach allows this type of practice to become ingrained habits and improved methods for reaching company goals. You will also discover increased job satisfaction by team players, because we all perform and feel better working together than apart.
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