Why it’s so difficult to see the big picture
People responsible for managing a company need to see the big picture in order to understand how their company is doing. The challenge is, the big picture is made up of a lot of different elements and therefore is not easy to see.
Simply put, the big picture is all the elements you need in order to tell a complete story. In an IT context, it’s everything you need to know to understand the IT department – what it contains, what it does, how it works, what vulnerabilities it has, how much it costs… the list goes on.
The big picture is useful because it’s of greater value than the sum of its parts, in the same way water is something more than just two hydrogen atoms bonded to a single atom of oxygen. In other words, the IT big picture is more than just data, it’s data arranged in a way that tells a story. Just like a painting is more than just colours on canvas – seeing the big picture in IT is an art form.
The big picture challenge in IT is daunting because it is based on technology and technology changes quickly. The story that you told six months ago is not the story that is true today or the story that will unfold six months from now. In addition, there’s a subtle shift going on in IT departments. It’s not just about the technology anymore, it’s about the business of technology.
In the past, people were thrilled if you just gave them the numbers. Now they want to be able to do something with the numbers. These days, the big picture is in effect business intelligence (the information) plus business analytics (what that information means to you).
How do you get artistic with IT data?
You can throw a lot of operational people at it and most organizations do! This can be significantly expensive and comes with a fair amount of uncertainty. You can also try working with an outsourcing company to reduce your investment risk. Regardless of the approach you take, you have to be able to create new insights from the raw data you’re already managing. It’s about looking at data in new ways, creatively, to get more out of it.
You have to have knowledge and skills to create the big picture – a picture customized to your company’s needs. If you have a problem with incident management, for example, do you have the skills to gather information from silos across your entire business so you can see where you are feeling pressure? What’s more, once you have the big picture, do you have the skilled resources to really focus in on the details?
Once you can see the big picture – in its entirety or only the problem areas – you can more easily see what you should prioritize. You’ll be making evidence-based decisions instead of relying on your gut. The big picture can be scary. But better to be scared of something you know for sure than of some vague feeling.
To close, yes… my company has a creative solution to the big IT picture challenge.
Thanks for reading,
Susan Odle is chief operating officer and managing partner at RAPA Consulting. She has been in enterprise IT for over two decades, is ITIL Foundation V3.5 certified, enjoys anything outdoors with family and music (playing, singing and listening).
Post picture by Barry Badcock.