How to Get Most Out of Your Data


Too many companies are burdened with systems that don’t work well – and certainly not together. Michael Del Castillo, Solutions consultant at OpsRamp talks about how “technical debt” can prevent companies from achieving their digital goals. This article considers how a data-centric strategy can help companies achieve IT/b usinessalignment.

CIOs know that IT is at the forefront of customer experience, the differentiator that every CEO seeks. In fact, IT has become such an elemental aspect of the business that it’s often core to a company’s survival. Yet many organizations are still faced with overwhelming technical debt and IT complexity — and that prevents them from being agile enough to bring new, awesome digital experiences to market before the competition does. Without a killer customer experience in today’s modern times, revenues and customer retention are at stake.

I’ve been working in enterprise IT for 15 years, beginning in enterprise data management, and later moving into enterprise architecture roles where I advised CXOs on how to use data to understand their technology investments. As I look back at the advancements in IT over my career, and how technology has changed because of the emergence of cloud service providers, microservices, new software architectures and disciplines like DevOps, IoT, AI and more, the one thing that really jumps out is how organizations have started to use data.

Data is the new everything.

Today, organizations aren’t just using data to make decisions internally, or to reduce the number of manual tasks that IT has to perform; they’re using data to improve everything from maintaining the availability of business services, increasing sales through marketing campaigns, and improving customer service and experiences.

The challenge is that various IT and business groups are running with different sets of data locked within many applications and infrastructure. This creates isolated perspectives on service availability, uptime, health, and customer experience. And it results in too much guesswork, a long time to resolution of issues and failed SLAs.

The Bottoms-Up Approach to IT: Starting with Data

For many years, CIOs and their teams have been immersing themselves into business units to understand their needs, objectives, and priorities. Yet by gaining an analytical, data-driven understanding of business services and how IT is supporting them with appropriate functionality and service levels, CIOs can bring even more to the table. This is where data can provide immense, contextual value.

To achieve the holy grail of IT/business alignment, IT Ops plays a critical role in gathering and analyzing contextual data to improve business services. Contextual operations data is powerful, in that it provides a richer overall picture of the business. Let’s take a closer look at some common scenarios which better IT operations data can help resolve:

Our customer site has experienced increasing churn.

In the old world, sales and marketing teams would panic and run in circles trying to determine why this was happening and how many customers they would lose from it until it was fixed. Now, IT can monitor trends, run algorithms, and build correlation models to understand what has happened. As it turns out, customers aren’t leaving, they’re all showing up at once due to weekly sales ads causing the sporadic site performance. Understanding and correcting the causes behind the periodic outages – by reconfiguring the cloud architecture to prioritize availability of the most high-performing resources to those web servers, for example – allows for a rapid fix of the issue and a reduction in churn.

Portions of the new website aren’t being used by 75% of those who access it via their mobile device or tablet.

The developers say the site works great on a mobile device and tablet: everything renders and response times are excellent. However, application usage metrics that monitor the pages show that on several pages, visitors are leaving quickly. After the product VP reviews reports, she decides to conduct usability tests to understand what’s not resonating with users. By digging deeper into surveys from customers, she quickly learns the difference between a site that is responsive and renders fine on a mobile device or tablet versus an app that was designed for a mobile experience.

The DevOps initiative is not delivering the projected ROI.

The business is complaining that projects still aren’t getting done fast enough, even after IT adopted a DevOps approach. With a consolidated view of the DevOps tools and their integrations, IT can see that gaps in the tool infrastructure are causing glitches and delays in CI/CD processes. For the first time ever, IT can actually see these gaps, identify the root cause of the glitches and fix them quickly to still allow the business to bring new products to market faster than before.

The data-centric view is not just an IT exercise but a business-wide initiative. IT leaders will need to determine how they can best collaborate on, ingest, and share this data out to stakeholders in the business to arrive at consolidated goals, and maintain excellent customer experiences across the digital ecosystem. By ensuring that real-time operational data is driving IT decisions, we can deliver what is most important to the business and in the most cost-efficient manner. And that can be the differentiator that the CEO is looking for.