Sunday, September 8, 2013

CIOs as Chief Intelligence Officer: Leadership Qualities for Business Analytics

The quality of analytics leadership will make influences leveraging multiple viewpoints to solving real business issues via analysis and synthesis.

IT and Marketing relationship is a mixing bag, data analytics is the battleground both functions desire to conquer, and they have to work more closely than ever with collective insight and collaborative effort in managing and analyzing data, in order to capture the business value from it. More specifically, what are leadership qualities for business analytics? What do you think it takes to lead an advanced analytics team? How important is competence in analytics, leadership ability, and communication skills? How important is it to manage from top-down or bottom-up?

  • CIOs as Chief Intelligence Officer needs to have business insight. Analytics helps in driving better business decisions. So a leader should not only have a strong technical background but also helps the client understand the complex analytic equations in simple business terms. At the end of the day, the business doesn't care about equations but insights/recommendation analytics can give to the business. And it is very imperative to have good communication skills to explain the results to the end consumer in plain English. Communication is essential. Analytics encompasses a lot of material; understanding of the goals of the organization as well as a basic understanding of the "moving parts" is sufficient. Communication is essential, if not the most important aspect. You can be doing the most sophisticated analysis in the world, but it will fall on deaf ears if it can not be explained or aligned with business goals.
  • The leader of an area like analytics should be proficient in knowledge about the business and technical domain: In a technical world, that is a challenge. Technology and methods change at the speed of light and it is difficult to stay on top of the ball in terms of the latest methods and tools. Communication, personality, and understanding of the business domain are among the essential for successful leadership. Good awareness of various domain-related solutions or areas that can be covered by Analytics - This will ensure respect from cross-functional disciplines. The challenge of leading analytics projects is to maintain that fine balance between those who are business managers or IT professionals working with the core analytics team. The business managers have an advanced understanding of regular analytics, and also have excellent leadership and communication skills. IT teams have oversight upon Data Architecture, Data Management Life Cycle. If they are to work seamlessly with the advanced analytics team and convert the output of the advanced analytics into useful business intelligence, it helps the business and the organization; regardless of weather analytics teams residing in IT or marketing, the close collaboration will better overcome the challenges such as data quality, data integration, and data governance issues. 
  • CIOs as Chief Intelligence Officer needs to focus on bigger business problems with logic inquisitiveness: Leadership qualities or detailed responsibilities for managing analytics may depend on the specific role.  There are a few critical points which are essential to lead analytical projects, such as
1). Organization skills to generate analytical projects and processes, prioritize, identify resources needed, and delegate to assure completion.
2) Communicator: Development and honing of analytical skills with which to identify, analyze, and address business problems.
3) Analytical aptitude: Inquisitive and logical;
4) Leadership skills - Focus on bigger business problems.
5) Fast learner: Should keep the pace with the knowledge of the team as well as industry
6) High EQ: This is quite handy to balance critical deadlines and emotional well-being. Reading people’s minds is not possible; however, understanding their needs and priorities is an advantage.
7) Ability to create indicators and/or measures. Ability to show validated ROI of the department to all levels of the organization. 
8) The ability to act or suggest action to move key metrics to benefit the business based on the analyzed data rather than just reporting the results
9) The ability to mentor direct reports and improve their contribution to the organization
10) The flexibility to know when to manage down vs. up dependent on the day to day business needs.

At high maturity organizations, analytics is the ingredient needs to be well embedded into business culture, to drive data-based decisions both at the strategic and operational level, the quality of analytics leadership will make an influence on leveraging multiple viewpoints to solving real business issues via analysis and synthesis, and make an effective decision via logic and intuition as well.  


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