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Self-service push drives new data analytics project processes

As shadow IT units and self-service business intelligence tools proliferate, forward-looking CIOs turn to analytics innovation and more collaborative management of data and applications to keep their IT teams involved in the BI and analytics game.

So says Jill Dyché, a longtime BI and data management consultant who is now vice president of best practices at SAS Institute Inc. -- a job that involves working with the software vendor's customers to optimize their data analytics project management processes. Dyché is also the author of several books, including The New IT: How Technology Leaders Are Enabling Business Strategy in the Digital Age. And she's a regular participant at the Pacific Northwest BI Summit, an annual July gathering of consultants and vendors to discuss BI, analytics and data management trends.

In a Q&A recorded at the 2015 summit, Dyché talked about the issues addressed in The New IT, which was released in an audio version this month. The book examines the changing nature of IT operations in companies, and Dyché identifies six archetypal models: They range from a tactical, keep-the-lights-on approach to an "IT everywhere" culture, with dispersed ownership of systems and a thin layer of governance and oversight by the IT department.

In companies that move toward the latter model, "data management becomes more federated," Dyché said in the video. "The people who own and use the data make the policies on [governing] that data."

Responsibility for managing analytics applications and systems also varies depending on where a company is culturally and organizationally, she added. Toward the higher end of the scale, the IT department might collaborate with a business unit on purchasing the tools to support a data analytics project and deploy them -- but get out of the way after that. In such cases, "IT will help procure software and establish some lightweight [service-level agreements], and then it's all yours," Dyché said.

One way to foster that kind of buying collaboration is to set up what Dyché calls an innovation lab -- a place where data analysts and business users can try out new software from various vendors, then rely on IT to take the lead on negotiating potential purchases. That can give IT departments "a shot in the arm" on providing value to the business at a time when many are shifting operational responsibilities to cloud providers or seeing those duties subsumed by shadow IT teams in business units, she said. And to Dyché, it makes perfect sense: "One could argue there's no one better than an IT leader to build out a set of innovation capabilities in a company."

Watch the video to hear more from Dyché on IT roles and responsibilities and the different ways organizations she works with approach technology deployment, data governance and data analytics project management. Look as well for our coverage of the 2016 Pacific Northwest BI Summit, which takes place July 21 to 25 in Grants Pass, Ore.

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