Gartner has a long history in creating terms to describe trends, best practices and emerging technologies in the IT industry. A few Gartner examples are ‘Hype Cycle’, ‘MQ’, ‘ITOM’, ‘ValueOps’ and my favorite, ‘the trough of disillusionment’. One of the more recent terms Gartner has put out is IOBVD, which is an acronym for Infrastructure and Operations Business Value Dashboard. IOBVDs differ from traditional executive dashboards in that their purpose is to present performance measures in terms of how they impact business.
Not Just a Dashboard
Traditional executive dashboards present highly summarized views of performance in the context of initiatives, capacity, efficiency, speed and cost. IOBVDs are focused mostly on how IT impacts the ability of a business to produce revenue – a simple concept that makes the most sense to business stakeholders. Interestingly enough, the IOBVD quite possibly is the most important and compelling reason for developing a metrics management strategy – yet all too often it is the most overlooked. One reason why is because producing IOBVDs is a non-trivial, orchestrated undertaking that requires the involvement of multiple camps including technical and business stakeholders. The solution has to gather and consolidate operations-level metrics, merge in business context, summarize extensively then present results in near real-time and in the form of ‘just answers’. Most lumbering BI/analytics platforms and general-purpose dashboard/visualization tools are disqualified from being prospective IOBVD solutions because they just don’t have the capabilities critical towards the implementation, use and support of IOBVDs.
The IT Solution
Gartner research suggests that if the development of IOBVDs as part of an enterprise metrics management strategy is ignored, the result is simple – IT budgets will continue to shrink. The idea makes sense and is completely in line with the notion of running IT like a business. Unfortunately, it has set the stage for a mad scramble for dashboards, resulting in virtually every ITOM/ITSM vendor building into their products a dashboard of some sort. But most are vertically-focused technical tools and none truly answer questions that business stakeholders ask. An IOBVD initiative should answer how business-value metrics are derived and managed from the constantly changing Infrastructure and Operations systems landscape.
So what constitutes a successful IOBVD? From an executive’s perspective, it would be trust and confidence in the answers provided by the IOBVD. This naturally leads to the IOBVD being the most important and relied-upon tool in an executive’s portfolio. Success is when you get to a point where business stakeholders can’t live without their IOBVDs. Successful IOBVD deployments are the result of a properly designed and executed end-to-end metrics management strategy. An end-to-end metrics strategy accounts for the aggregation, consolidation, cataloging, transformation, visualization and best method of presentation for metrics. Most tools focus on the dashboard, the visualization or the eye candy in the dashboard which is a surefire way to ensure that your audience will tune out in short order.
PureShare’s mission as an enterprise software company is to be the de-facto, single system-of-record for end-to-end enterprise metrics management. The results of the Gartner evaluation reflects the focus PureShare has placed on solving the most difficult aspects of deploying IOBVDs.
PureShare’s Metrics Legacy
PureShare has been deploying IOBVDs since the early 2000s. The only difference is that we bundled IOBVD capability into our own version of ‘Executive Dashboards’. We’re happy to see that Gartner has introduced the term ‘IOBVD’ to define a practice that we see as the most valuable component of our product suite – that is, the ability to roll up operations metrics, merge business context, then transform them into business-value metrics all neatly summarized in line with the business’ organizational hierarchy. With the IOBVD, business stakeholders can make decisions to materially affect performance outcomes in near real-time.
It was exciting to hear that PureShare received the highest scores in the Gartner research paper. Some of the capabilities evaluated include the Interface, Usability, Integration with Data Sources and Proactive Alerting. Years of experience, development and customer successes certainly have had a play in aligning PureShare’s product suite towards what the market need in the relatively new field of IOBVDs for IT. It is gratifying to see this reflected in the results of the Gartner evaluation.
IT is a Business
While the transformative impact of IOBVDs still remains to be seen across IT as a whole, we have seen this practice result in material improvement to IT performance, particularly when the mission is to operate IT ‘as a business’. On the other hand, it is surprising to see how many organizations are still just starting to recognize the potential of IOBVDs as a key component of a cohesive measurement strategy. Like any business initiative, it is key to tailor the strategy to your organization’s maturity level and plan for the incremental move upwards. Wherever you are on the scale of maturity, one thing is for certain: executed properly, IOBVDs will positively impact your business!
Gartner, Critical Capabilities for Infrastructure and Operations Business Value Dashboard Tools, Jeffrey M. Brooks | Robert Naegle, 1 April 2014.