Developing Analytic Applications is a Collaborative Process – Research Study of 250 IT Professionals

By Elliot King, Ph.D.
Professor of Communication, Loyola University Maryland & Founder of the Digital Media Laboratory

In many organizations, the IT department has the responsibility and the expertise to explore, develop, and install most major applications, as well as identify technology that can support an organization’s mission. While senior management must sign off on any significant new project, the IT group takes on the burden of such initiatives.

However, the process of identifying, developing, and implementing analytic applications is a much more collaborative process according to a research study conducted by the Lattanze Center, a nationally recognized center of excellence on issues related to business excellence and IT at Loyola University Maryland. To an overwhelming degree, IT professionals and end users work together to select and develop analytic applications.

In a survey of more than 250 IT professionals who indicated that analytic applications were used in their organizations:

  • 71% reported that selecting analytic applications was a joint decision made by IT and end users
  • 10% said that IT alone chose analytic applications
  • 5% indicated that end users alone selected analytic applications

The same pattern of collaboration held true for developing analytic applications. Among the respondents to the survey:

  • 56% said that IT professionals and end users work together to develop analytic applications
  • 24% reported that IT professionals alone created analytic applications
  • 9% indicated that consultants were responsible for developing analytic applications
  • 4% said that end users were entirely responsible for developing analytic applications

This data suggests that in many organizations end users do not have sufficient technical skill to build applications without assistance, nor are they empowered to select analytic applications entirely on their own.

On the other hand, end users do routinely collaborate on both the selection and development of analytic applications. The reason is not hard to determine. Analysis is a quintessential “ground up” activity. End users know what data they need and how they want to analyze it, while IT can identify and suggest new tools that could be potentially useful.

To a degree, the level of cooperation between end users and IT during the development process declines. While end users simply may not have the technical skills needed to assist in development, a high degree of interaction is needed to ensure the analytic tools selected, developed, and implemented can generate data and lead to the answers the end users want.

Stay tuned for part three of this series in the July/August 2011 issue of the Noetix Newsletter! We will take a look at the amount of time it takes for an organization to go from the decision to create a new analytic application, to having the application operational, including the biggest challenges found along the way.

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