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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

Is Your Analytics COE Losing Juice? -- Q&A with Jill Dyché

Do you need to modernize your center of excellence? Consider these tactics to guide your enterprise analytics to the next level.

In my last Upside Q&A column I advised oil and gas manager Dave K. how to modernize his analytics center of excellence (COE) to become an analytics marketplace. Many companies are migrating away from single, centralized analytics teams and toward marketplaces: specialized services focused on supplying guidance and resources for various layers of the analytics stack.

Eager to get the ball rolling, Dave followed up with a question about execution.

Hi, Jill.

Thanks for posting my question and for your response. I'm intrigued by the concept of an analytics "marketplace." I think our stakeholders would find it a compelling conversation.

What should I do to get started?

--Your friend Dave in Houston

Fair enough, Dave. Here are some tactics I've seen COE managers use to enlist allies in transforming their teams. Consider a few of these to help you guide enterprise analytics to the next level.

Call a meeting to introduce the marketplace concept

It's an intriguing topic that will draw stakeholders and sponsors -- who doesn't want to hear about a fresh new model for analytics? In that meeting present a framework for a more expansive, service-focused version of analytics, one that allows your emerging independent teams to keep doing what they're doing while at the same time establishing charters and boundaries between them and your current COE crew.

Devise a collaboration framework

Take what works from your COE model and merge in new development processes and technology paradigms the emerging upstart projects have adopted. Make sure that the vision is inclusive -- open source, cloud, smaller vendors, homegrown code, and outside data sources are all fair game -- and avoid any longstanding COE shibboleths that might compromise your objectivity.

Create a "Knowledge Exchange"

This is a forum -- it should happen both in-person and online, formally and informally -- that lets the various marketplace teams interact and share ideas and skill sets. Small teams of people can learn from one another and collaborate more effectively. You'll witness barriers between organizations and charters dissolving as people embrace new domain ownership.

Cultivate an apprenticeship program

Let developers from different teams sit in on design reviews and scrums. Studies have shown that learning new skills correlates with employee satisfaction and tenure.

Assign case managers

These people interact across teams. They ensure that activities are sequenced between projects, help avoid duplicate work efforts, and share progress. Think of a complicated machine learning effort that might involve a "stack" that includes open source projects and proprietary software developed by different experts. Using the best technologies for the job is the hallmark of an analytics marketplace.

Consider a new name for the COE

Once the marketplace idea takes shape and stakeholders see progress, a new name might enhance your marketplace brand and cultivate additional interest.

Now that "agile" has entered the business lexicon and analytics has hit executives' radar, the marketplace model is timely. By articulating the vision, you can own the change. Good luck!

About the Author

Jill Dyché has advised clients and executive teams on their analytics and data programs for as long as she can remember. Longer, in fact. She’s the author of four books on the business value of technology and regularly talks to teams about what keeps them up at night. Ambivalent about analytics? Maddened by management? Constricted by your culture? Check out Jill’s Q&A column, Q&A with Jill Dyché, here.

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