"Say Company A acquires Company B," says Brydges. "The CFO of Company A needs to look at the consolidated financials of both companies, and he doesn't have time to wait for IT to run it through its data warehouse. You need a tactical solution that can quickly pull data from multiple sources into a tool like Excel or SharePoint so your CFO can use it right away."
The key is to do it in a structured way so that results are consistent no matter what data is input or who does it, Brydges says.
"If you're going to create a spreadsheet where you mix the financials of Company A and Company B, you need to define the architecture so the next time someone asks for this, you don't start with a blank spreadsheet that produces different results and then have to create a third spreadsheet to reconcile the two," he adds.
That means business and IT need to work together to identify the bits of of data that drive results and figure out the best ways to mine them.
So, if this is such a great idea, why isn't everyone doing it? "Because it's hard to do," says Stephenson. "There are tons of companies stuck in the middle of $6 million BI projects. People are afraid it's too big to tackle. But our definition of 'big' is changing. In 10 years, everybody will be living in the world of what we consider Big Data today. There's no reason you can't start out by using smaller subsets of data to validate your ideas before investing too much time or money in a big initiative."
Essential IT Project No. 2: Master your mobile devicesThe consumerization of IT is here to stay. The question is, What are you going to do about it?
You have two choices: Resist and kiss your career ambitions good-bye, or embrace it and win the undying respect of the C-suite executives who really want to use their iPads at work, even if they're not entirely sure why.
The project IT pros need to wrap their arms around is the mobile device dilemma: How to manage devices securely, provision them efficiently, and make your bosses happy without compromising the integrity of your network, says Mike Meikle, principal of Hawkthorne Group.
Even if you or your enterprise aren't quite ready to jump with both feet into the realm of mobile device management, you should at least be conversant with all the options available to you, he adds.
"A lot of IT folks will simply say no, they don't want those devices in their environment," says Meikle. "That's not going to fly, especially if this is being driven by executives. If you're approached by senior management about what it will take to integrate these devices into the enterprise and you say they're too risky or that you want to take a wait-and-see approach, you're not going to look so good. Being knowledgeable about what solutions are available will make you look like a pro to the business side of the organization."
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