Too many projects, too little time: That's the sad lament of many IT professionals who must constantly balance the needs of the enterprise against the desires of business users -- all while keeping a close eye on the newest technologies coming at them from every direction.
Still, some less obvious projects may pay bigger dividends in the long run, both for the company and, more important, for your career. A sure hand on the reins of the massive influx of mobile devices into your network will be a boon to the organization -- and will get you noticed. So too will sussing out a sound social media strategy, spearheading a crisis response team, or merging your development and operations teams to accelerate your ability to bring new apps online.
Then there are the troves of data your company has been collecting just waiting to be mined to improve decision-making.
Done well, these five projects will make you a hero to upper management while enabling the organization to move forward:
What IT projects do you think are essential? Post your comments here (Add a comment) so that all our readers can share them.
Essential IT Project No. 1: Streamline your company dataIt's hard to resist the allure of big data. Gather enough data points, harness enough computing horsepower to crunch them, and you can predict what your company's customers will want before they even know they want it. You'll be a hero, and the business will own a license to print money. That's the promise, anyway.
The problem? Most organizations already have more data than they can handle, much of it inconsistently defined and captured in incompatible ways. So when decision-makers show up at meetings, they spend all of their time arguing about whose data is correct, not what the data is telling them to do, says Chris Stephenson, co-founder of Arryve Consulting.
The project you want to own is to simplify that data, make sense of it, and use it to propel the company forward.
Step one: Take the conflicting streams of data collected by different systems in your organization and consolidate them into a single database before business users ever get their mitts on it, advises Stephenson. To do that you'll need to work with business users to identify the important data points and arrive at common definitions.
"That's much easier said than done," he says. "But it will ensure that a company is managing to one version of the truth and allow multidepartment conversations to focus on the decisions the data is driving, not the data itself."
But even big data doesn't have to be that big. While you're waiting for that multi-million-dollar business intelligence initiative to pay dividends, you can employ "tactical BI" -- isolating the information that really matters to business leaders so they can make decisions more quickly, says Bill Brydges, managing director in MorganFranklin's Performance Improvement practice.
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