by Meg Bingley
In the complex world of the channel, data is power. So it’s not surprising that BI and analytics tools that help channel professionals access and understand their operational metrics are popular. But unfortunately there is often a disconnect between those that have the data and those who can use the data.
Too often data resides with IT because there isn’t anywhere else to put it. But at a fundamental level – think amygdala/brain-core type level – analytics for real insight aren’t about technology or tools, or really even about the data.
Consider what I like to call the three primary ‘swim lanes’ of the technology profession today:
- Swim Lane One: Boxes and wires and networks and software and making all that stuff work together
- Swim Lane Two: Databases and ERP/CRM/alphabet soup systems that leverage data and create data silos
- Swim Lane Three: so-called ‘Big Data’ and squishy data and the burgeoning field of analysis of both squishy and hard data
Of course these ‘swim lanes’ are connected to one another, but are distinct disciplines and each essential to enterprise success. The disconnect happens when the folks in Lanes One and Two are disconnected from the outcomes that Lane Three actively pursues.
Lane Three ought to be about taking action from insight to transform the pipeline or order entry. It’s not about figuring out how stuff works and enjoying that process (discovery and mastery of a puzzle). It’s about making people and process changes that will generate business results.
Hence, I predict that in the coming years BI and analytics will become an area of expertise for those rare folks who: a) are somewhat technical, b) understand data well enough to generate trustworthy and meaningful insights for the business, and c) want to then actively participate in and pursue the changes that these insights dictate.
I think this is why true change is hard within channel organizations. The infrastructure and constituencies (finance, IT, executive management) are deeply invested/entrenched in the existing structures resident in swim lanes one and two, making it very, very hard to drive the recommendations resident in the data.
We all need to re-examine our partner sets, incentive investments, success formulas (aka ROI calculations), margins, OPEX, you name it – and yet start with the end in mind, in order to build backwards to the data points and infrastructure to support those outcomes. Until then, we’re just treading water.